Prior to arriving to Russia, I tried not to have too many expectations. My main goal was to enjoy the experience of being here in Russia. Obviously things are different here and that took an adjustment to get used to. Now that my time here is coming to an end, I’m sad to be leaving.

It is a little intimidating to be in a country that speaks a different language. I have realized that my Russian is awful, but it is slowly improving. I still have trouble understanding people but hopefully overtime that will get better if I keep my Russian up. I’m currently going to Russian classes three times a week here and I love it.

The education system here is definitely different. Back in America, you have more freedom to choose your schedule and pick what classes and when you want to take them. Here at MGIMO, your schedule is generated for you like it is back in high school, and you have the same people in all of your classes. Sometimes classes are canceled without noticed and since everyone’s schedule is the same class are often moved around to compensate for a canceled class or some change in the schedule.

One thing I know I had to get used to was not smiling as much. I never realized how much I smiled until I came here. Back in America its not that uncommon to smile at someone you’ve made eye contact with. That is something that does not happen in Russia. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t friendly, they just don’t show as openly as we do back home. It was a challenge for a couple of days to adapt a neutral face or as my program director calls it “metro face” for the metro. At first other people in my group and I couldn’t keep straight faces when we looked at each other, but now we have perfected the “metro face.”

The food is definitely different here. It was a little bit of an adjustment getting used to it. One of my favorite Russian foods is “pelmeni,” which is dumplings filled with meet with sour cream. Another is “blini” which is a thin pancake. Sometimes it is served with berries or sweetened condensed milk or sometimes with an assortment of meat and it is really really good. Georgian food is another one of my favorites that I’m really, really going to miss when I leave.

There are a few things that have surprised me about being in Russia. Most of the Russian college students I have meet here have studied in America for at least a year and are very excited to meet Americans. Also, those who haven’t studied in America are excited to meet Americans to practice their English. They are all interested in our opinions of things like Ukraine, Crimea and Syria or about the American presidential elections. I have really enjoyed talking to Russian students here and getting a different perspective on world events. These conversations plus the classes I’ve been taking have definitely challenged my world view.

I have loved living here in Moscow. The city is huge and there are so many things to do and to see here. Ive enjoyed exploring Moscow. I love being to get not the metro and go to Red Square and walk around. Now that it is spring in Moscow the weather here is beautiful and its so nice to get outside and walk around the city.

I love being here in Russia. Everyday is an adventure here. I do miss home and I look forward to being back with my friends and family but I will be sad to leave. I have made so many friends here. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I know I definitely want to come back to Moscow in the future.