The Brown Girls Take Moscow!


In front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in red square with my mom


Last week my mom came to visit me! We hadn’t seen each other since August and I was so excited to show her around. Unfortunately, I got a nasty cold almost as soon as she got here. But we tried not to let that put a damper on our time together. We ticked off almost everything on her to-do list (including 3 ballets!), and we were both exhausted after our week-long “vacation”.

About to try Adjarian khachapuri for the first time, which she said was the best thing she’d ever had!

It was good for me to see Moscow and my time here through the eyes of someone taking it all in for the first time. Obviously, as my mom, she and I are going to think similarly about things. But it was also nice to have some things I was thinking validated and confirmed. My mom also thought it was weird that each escalator in the metro has someone employed to watch it…

By the Moscow river, Kremlin in the background

Because my mom doesn’t speak Russian, I did almost all the planning and navigating around the city. Being here with someone who has the same knowledge of Russian that I did two and a half years ago made me realize that I really have made a lot of progress. Sometimes in a city full of native speakers it is easy to be overwhelmed by the mountain of Russian I still don’t know. Seeing how far I have come was encouraging.

Thanksgiving in Moscow

My mom was also kind enough to help me cook a Thanksgiving dinner for some Russian and international friends. We couldn’t find a whole turkey, so we stuffed a big chicken and got a huge turkey leg! Everyone really enjoyed the food, and my host mom made the most beautiful pecan and apple pies that I have seen in any country. We even introduced some new foods; in this land of root vegetables, some of my Russian friends had never tried sweet potatoes! Although it wasn’t an exact recreation, I feel that we captured the spirit of the holiday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it calls on us all to be grateful for what we have. If I counted my blessings, it would take all day, so I’ll just say thank you to my mom and all my friends, new and old.

Love, Emily

Russian word: Спасибо огромное (spa-see-ba oh-grohm-no-eh) Thank you so much

Crash Course or Crash Landing?

Privyet from Moscow!

Don’t worry, that title is not literal. I landed safely in Moscow early Friday morning.

First steps in Russia

Stepping off that plane, I couldn’t be more excited. I was breathing Russian air! Hearing Russian words! Seeing Russian people! I was a bit surprised then, at how “normal” everything seemed. Where was that culture shock? I figured, well, maybe an airport is just an airport, and a city just a city, even in Cyrillic. So far everything does seem pretty comfortable, but every once in a while I crash into something that makes me feel, well, shocked!

A brand new playground in Novoslobodskaya Park

The first time I really felt that I was in Russia was when I was walking around a park near my apartment on my first day and I heard little kids speaking in Russian. For some reason knowing that these kids knew more of the language than I did really humbled me!

Breakfast that Alla made my first day, including traditional Russian kasha

Sometimes I feel like I crash and burn a thousand little times a day, as I try to communicate with my lovely host mother, Alla, in my broken Russian. She patiently listens and helps me spell out words I don’t know into Google translate, but I feel terrible for all the things I know she is trying to say to me that I don’t understand!

This church popped out from behind a steel skyscraper as I navigated through Moscow

However, I’m already amazed by how concepts I struggled with in the classroom make sense in real life. For example, the direction/navigation unit was one of my worst in class last year, but after Alla gave me directions and I consulted Yandex (Russia’s Google), I had an epiphany and I have found everything I needed so far! (I’m no expert though… I got lost and was late for my first class!).

The crash course is going well so far, minus a couple bumps and bruises. There is so much I can’t share in a short blog post, but some topics coming up are: the Cyrillic alphabet, food, architecture, the tourist spots, money, getting to know Alla, and much more!

Увидимся! Oo-vee-deem-sya! See ya!