Me and a few of the guys from my study abroad group (Ben, Landon, and Dan)

Me and a few of the guys from my study abroad group in Moscow (Ben, Landon, and Dan)

 

          Hello comrades, and thanks for stopping by to read my very first blog post! Lord knows it took me long enough to figure out how to work everything (darn new-fangled technology). For this first post, I would like to talk a little bit about myself and my interest in the history of Russia. I am a sophomore here at Virginia Tech and I’m triple majoring in History (my primary major), Political Science with a concentration in National Security Studies, and Russian. I studied abroad in Moscow this past January with eight wonderful fellow Hokies. We stayed mostly in the capital, but we also got to go to Yaroslavl, Rostov, and Sergiyev Posad. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Russia, but actually going there made me fall in love with the country even more. Although the city is not perfect by any means, there certainly is plenty to love in Moscow. My favorite thing about the city, personally, is the metro system (which I’ve heard described as “the most beautiful piece of socialist propaganda in history”). My interest in the history of Russia can be explained by my love for, and desire to know more about, its modern state.

          To close out this introductory post, I’d like to share a story from my study abroad experience. On our second night in Moscow, we decided to go out together as a group. We planned to go to a place called кружка (pronounced kruzshka) after much insistence on the part of the lovely Dan Pcsolyar. It takes us about an hour to get to this place (even though it was only about five minutes away from our dorm building) after many wrong turns, close-calls sliding on ice, and petitions to settle on somewhere else. However, we FINALLY find this place and settle down. The waiter comes, ushering in the moment when we all realize that we seriously suck at Russian. We resolve to pointing at the menu and saying “this” in Russian when we see a picture of something we might like. He serves us by himself during the course of the night and remembers everything we order off of the top of his head; he makes what seems like a thousand trips to bring the nine of us food and the many drinks we continuously keep quasi-ordering (point, this please, thank you x 100) all night. Needless to say, we all feel like quite the handful by the time it comes to pay. We decide to tip him thirty percent for dealing with our never-ending orders and awful Russian communication abilities, hope he doesn’t hate us too much, and head back home.

          FAST FORWARD TO A FEW DAYS LATER

          In one of our classes, we learn about the customs of Russian restaurants (that could have come in handy earlier, am I right?) Our teacher tells us that in Russian restaurants, a sizable tip is ten percent…We all try not to laugh as we think about what the waiter must have thought when he got his tip that night.

           FAST FORWARD TO A DAY OR TWO LATER

          One night when we get sick of living off of the baguette, cheese, and mystery meat sandwiches that we typically ate in our tiny dorm kitchen, we venture out to good ol’ кружка (which, by the way, means “mug” in Russian) yet again: where the food is delicious, Russian, and (most importantly) cheap. We start to walk through the place toward the cave-like den room that we made our hang-out spot during our trip. And who ever might we see but the waiter that served us previously. He waved at us like we were his best friends with the largest smile I had seen on any Russian during those weeks. I think it’s safe to say that our fears that he hated us were put to rest in that moment.

          Moral of the story: Be careful when tipping in Moscow, because you just might make a new friend.