Moshing in Moscow

Coming from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., I have been lucky enough to experience two flourishing music scenes. While both cities have excellent medium to large music venues, what makes their scenes so great are their DIY venues. The venues, often located in basements and apartments, are hubs for local artists in their respective communities. I …

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The Suburbs of Moscow

I live with a host family in a six story "brezhnevki" apartment building that was constructed in the 1970s. As a historian, I am in love with my surroundings as my home is a veritable time capsule of Soviet life, complete with carpets in every imaginable orientation and the feverish canning of fresh vegetables for …

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Добро пожаловать в Казахстан

I had very few expectations in mind when my plane touched down in Almaty. I was both mentally and physically exhausted from traveling for almost 48 hours straight, and as soon as I approached customs, I knew that my language skills were lacking, to say the least. I figured that this semester would be challenging …

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There’s a Washing Machine in My Kitchen —Cultural Observations and Shocks

While walking through the streets of my new home, Almaty, Kazakhstan, I can almost hear Green Day’s “American Idiot” pulsing through my brain. “Don’t wanna’ be an American Idiot,” is the goal, but the execution sometimes falls short. Often, these apparent blunders are not informed by the Russian language, as I expected before departure; rather, …

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First Impression in Moscow, Russia

My first impressions of Moscow during my first month here have been overwhelmingly positive. There are many aspects of this city and culture that I enjoy when comparing with the American culture that I am familiar with. I might not be able to go into depth on all of them, but I will mention a …

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Expectations and Realities

I was always “too” nervous to live with a host family. I’ve lived abroad many times before, and the opportunity certainly arose on more than one occasion. However, it always felt a bit scary. Stepping into someone else’s home, with their own customs, traditions, and daily life felt so intimidating. As a vegetarian, I also …

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