“Why did you decide to come to Russia?”

“Why did you decide to come to Russia?” The immediate answer I usually give is “because I’ve always been interested.” Since I was in the fifth grade, Russia, its culture, geography, language, etc., has fascinated me. I don’t have any logical or practical reason other than I thought it was cool. While it's true, I …

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The Added Benefit of Learning a Foreign Language

There are a lot of things you expect from studying a foreign language and going overseas to be immersed in said language, like funny stories from misunderstandings and an increase in the command over that language. Those things I expected, but there was one side effect of studying a second language I didn’t expect—an increase …

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Language Encounters and Heat in Almaty

I was born in San Francisco and then raised across the bridge in Marin County. Summer nights were spent either lounging on the dock of my neighbor’s house while sipping on ice cold orange juice, or hiking through towering redwood trees. Sometimes the weather climbed to 27 °C and I’d complain about the injustice of …

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It’s All Quite Dream-like Here

A friend from the United States messaged me asking how my trip in Almaty, Kazakhstan was going, and, in my response, I called this trip “peak existence.” What does “peak existence” mean? I guess I’d describe it as a state of being where every interaction and experience feels meaningful and fulfilling. My emotions and feeling …

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Navigating the Waters of Fluid Dynamics in Kazakhstan

It was early February, one of the coldest weeks in Almaty. The wind blew past my teacher, program director, and me as we searched for the Physics building on the main campus of our university. I could feel my nerves heightening, but this day had been long awaited. We found the lecture hall, but having …

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Shuba Hunting

In Russian, the word “шуба” [shoo-ba], plural: шуби [shoo-bee] has two meanings. 1. A fur coat 2. A salad that consists of alternating layers of mayonnaise, beats, and salted herring fish. The full name of the salad is translated as “Herring under a fur coat.” To most Americans, both are foreign and puzzling. Here we’re …

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