Author: Marija Arsovska
“What a cold, cloudy and unwelcoming country it is, and by that I’m also referring to the people living here” – was the sentence I used to tell my mother in first year of studies in Moscow, Russia.
Coming to spend my university years in Moscow was never my dream, but it all happened very spontaneously and now I’m so glad I didn’t miss my opportunity.
At my first year at high school I chose Russian as my second foreign language just because I knew I wouldn’t have to do anything to get great marks, “and not that I would ever need it in life” – I told myself. But life follows its strange paths and in no time I was already in my last year at high school and that was when I met my new Russian language teacher who gave me my ticket to see the world. Thanks to her and the support of my family, especially my mother, by the end of the year, after my graduation I got a scholarship and was treading on the Russian soil at the Sheremetyevo International Airport.
I spent my first year in Moscow learning Russian, because I hadn’t spoken it for the last four years at home, and getting familiar with Russian culture and Russian people (who came out to be far more difficult and unpleasant).
In Russia, 2 of 10 people know English, 1 of 10 people would stop if you ask them for some directions and only half of them will listen to you and try to help you.
But that actually wasn’t the problem; after all, you are the one that needs help so you’ll ask a hundred people if you have to. The biggest problem I had was the dormitory and the staff working there. When I first walked in the corridor on my floor I thought I was visiting some ruins left after the war and the room was nothing better. I spent the first week pitying myself, but shortly after the courses were about to begin and things started to look better. With understanding teachers and classmates from all over the world in the same position as you, you can easily find your place under the sun.
Apart from going to classes, I spent my time visiting the Red Square, the Kremlin, churches, museums, shops, old architecture buildings, and just walking the streets of Moscow and trying to feel the spirit. Everything was so big, so beautiful, so loud, and I was part of it, – that was one of the things that kept me going. By the end of the spring semester I already spoke Russian fluently, as my mother tongue is Macedonian language, and had friends from all over the world except from Russia.
Before leaving Russia for going on my summer holidays I prepared my documents for the university that my dean recommended to me and with my suitcase full of presents and me full of new experiences flew back home.
Today after almost four years in Moscow and three at the university, most of my friends are still foreign students and I still spend most of my free time visiting galleries, museums and exhibitions and I love Moscow.
After all this time I just got so used to it, to the 24/5 traffic jam, to the rare sunny days from September to May, to winters reaching 30 degrees below zero, to babushkas buying their daily food supplies and a bottle of vodka early in the morning. Now, almost like home, I have my favorite places to go to like the Carycino park, Zurab Tsereteli’s Art Gallery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and many many more.
I even got used to the food which I really couldn’t stand at first. Now I can’t imagine long time going without “pel’meni” (dumplings filled with meat, potatoes or mushrooms), or “borshch” (a thick soup), “syrniki” (sweet cheese pancakes), and sweet “tvorog” (quark).
Russians have great history and culture, and sometimes I imagine how such a great people like Peter I, Ekaterina II, were walking the ground where I am standing now and it feels so good.
One of the things I like the most, except for millions of bookshops all over the city, are the celebrations. Russian people love their vodka and they just love not to have to work, so we have a lot of holidays throughout the school year.
The important dates for the country are marked by amazing celebrations. There are concerts, speeches, parties, the whole city is colorfully decorated and in the evening thousand of fireworks paint the sky of Moscow.
Almost all of the people I have met so far are just the same, cold and unwelcoming, and I still find people who don’t like me just because I’m a foreigner, but I got used to it and know how to handle it alright, because you are here on your own and you have to stand up for yourself, as no one else will do it for you.
On the other hand, I love the university I am attending. Not only it is one of the best economic universities in Russia, but it has also contributed to the change of my view to Russian people. All of the staff in the dean’s cabinet has been very kind to me from the beginning, and the students accepted me and helped me in my first year, and today they come to me for help with some subjects and I’m glad to help them.
The new dormitories are great, although the furniture is pretty much the same, I have 2 roommates and we did our best in decorating our room, so it feels more like home. We live on the highest floor which is why we often refer to our room as The Penthouse.
Moscow is a very, very expensive city and it’s sometimes difficult to get some extra pocket money, foreigners are not allowed to work by law, considering the fact that the most of Middle Asia is trying to earn money on the black market in Russia.
However, just like every big city, it has so many opportunities, so much it can give, if only you are not afraid to take the chance.
This is one of the winning articles of the Mladiinfo Article Writing Contest. The content of the articles does not necessarily represent the view or the position of Mladiinfo.