Thoughts About Russia

Well, I’m back from my time in Russia and I want to spend some time just talking about my experiences there and how it was doing research in a foreign country.  Of course the language barrier was the most difficult to get passed, just figuring out how to get places was a challenge.  Even with the excellent language instruction I have received at William & Mary so far, there was still a great deal I had to get used to in Russian.  Even at my most confident in the language I still struggled with things which could be a bit disheartening.  But, this immersion definitely improved my language skills by forcing me into new situations everyday and it was awesome to be able to see myself progress.

Another interesting part of my trip was getting to live in a Soviet-era kommunalka or communal apartment from the 1920s.  I lived in one room that my host usually stayed in, while another woman and her two young children lived in the other.  We shared a kitchen and bathroom and my host, who stayed at her daughter’s apartment while I was there, would come to cook for me.  In theory it sounds like it would be the same as living in a dormitory at school, but the experience is entirely different with a family you do not know that only speaks a language that you are learning.  It was entirely different than anything I have ever done before and led to some interesting and unforgettable moments.

Finally, I’d like to talk about the variety of different foods and drinks I experienced in Russia.  Many people think that their entire diet consists of potatoes.  That, of course, is a gross exaggeration.  Russian cuisine was delicious, from pelmeni which are a type of dumplings to shashlik which are fantastic shish kebabs there was always something interesting to eat. Russians have the most diverse section of dairy products that I have ever seen. Last, I would be remiss if I did not suggest for all readers to try kvas.  It is a delicious, refreshing drink made from fermented rye which smells like a loaf of bread.  I have been craving it since returning to the US.

Comments

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Aside from missing the food, are you having any other problems readjusting to life in the states? I imagine that there was probably a little bit of culture shock. Did you have a lot of success with your interviews? It sounds like a fascinating project!