Russia– A country of magnificent beauty and culture, and a huge learning experience for me

apartments ARBAT  russiatrainRussia is such a fascinating country, that one can’t even begin to describe it. The moment I stepped off the plane at the Sheremetyevo II Airport near Moscow, I knew I was going to have a great experience. The trip originated in Atlanta, where my friend and I flew off to New York one summer day. That evening, we boarded a flight nonstop to Russia. I was so scared about going to such a “hidden” country. I had always heard of hunger, waiting, and other stories about the Russia way of life. What I found in Russia was something quite different. A way of life which is like ours, yet with several inconveniences. The most vivid memory of Russia for me is the potpourri of smells throughout the city. I’m not saying they were good, but I’m not saying they were bad either. They were just so unfamiliar, and sometimes, when I smell something similar to it, I am flashbacked into my time in Russia.

While in Moscow for the first hour, I was able to stop and see the Grand St. Basil’s Cathedral located in Red Square. To see this masterpiece in real-life was amazing. This surreal image of Russia that had been forever etched in my mind as the symbol of the U.S.S.R. and to see it was an emotional experience in itself. Standing where great communist leaders stood, where great revolutions were fought, and where beheadings took place opened my eyes to a whole nother world around me. After sightseeing for a couple of hours, it was time to board the train for a small city on the Volga, past Ulyanovsk, the home of Ulyanov, Lenin. This train ride was 20 hours long, and was interesting. Seeing different villages on the way brought the rural way of life to my attention. I have never seen such “farm” lands before. What was truly amazing though, was to look out the window, and see a small onion dome of a church way out in the country. So strange that so many beautiful churches were still standing because of the hardships the people had to go through to worship with an athiest government being so prominent in their lives. By visiting Russia, I have learned so many things that have affected my life, and have shaped my personality. During my stay in the small town of Dimitrovgrad, I was able to see the rural way of life. There were so many new things to me, and different methods of accomplishing similar tasks as we, that it kept me busy every minute of the day. I was filled with wonder and excitement. After a while in Dimitrovgrad, I went on the 20 hour train ride again to Moscow. We toured for the entire day, and then returned to the train station to board an over night train to St. Petersburg, previously called Leningrad.

St. Petersburg was so beautiful with its European style of architecture, rich history, and friendly people. St. Petersburg was initiated by Lenin, who wanted it to be a city that showed peace between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, so he insisted on the use of European architecture, to make the Europeans feel more at home. While in St. Petersburg, I was able to see the magnificent Summer Home of the Czars. After a couple of days in St. Petersburg, we rode the over night train again back to Moscow. I went inside St. Basil’s Cathedral, saw the actual Ulyanov Lenin body preserved since 1924, Red Square, GUM, the famous Worker & Farmgirl Monument, and the Bolshoi Theater. These famous landmarks will never be forgotten, and I hope to see them again one day.

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