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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    From Russia with love: Russian winter chills desert-dweller

    There is something particular about being an expatriate. It is a difficult experience to describe, even now, as I am sitting in my dorm, thousands of miles away from anyone or anything I know.

    I live on Grazdhansky Prospect, a road that appears to be the northernmost point of the world. The road runs parallel to my dorm, and continues on north into oblivion. During the winter, the sun hardly shines through the blanket of clouds, the snow turns to the color of sand, and it becomes so bitter cold that wherever you walk, you can be certain that it is the quickest route from A to B.

    Besides one student from L.A., I am the farthest expatriate from home. Most of the students live on the east coast, New York state, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., even Minnesota. I am placed far out of my element, as if I was picked up from the desert and placed in a remote, winter wonderland.

    Russia is not simply its own country, but its own world. St. Petersburg, styled the most European city of Russia, seems so far detached from the rest of the world, that it may as well be a chunk of ice floating around the Arctic. Sure, there is something European about the architecture, but nothing European about the people, or the experience. Russia is its own distinctly blended country; a little bit Europe, a little bit Asia, but entirely unique and stalwart.

    For those select few who plan to visit, keep in mind that the way of life here is significantly different from an American one. And that is certainly not a bad thing. One thing that seems to characterize many Americans – or at least those who fall under the stereotype – is that they believe the American way of life equates to the best way of life.

    Whether or not this is true, I cannot help but think of a certain friend of mine from Arizona. I will just call her O. She is in a similar position I find myself in, only reversed. O left Moscow, where she was born, moved to France for a few years, and eventually settled in Arizona. You don’t have to be from Russia to experience the feeling that Tucson is remote, its own detached world in the desert. So, I feel fairly confident in saying that Tucson for O is much like St. Petersburg is for me.

    I guess if you look at it from that perspective, Arizona and Russia are not that different. When you are away from your home country, whether that be Russia, America, or anywhere really, everything will appear different and foreign.

    That being said, I wouldn’t recommend Grazhdansky Prospect to anyone. It is a sad and desolate place. It would be the equivalent of sending someone to 36th street. Not that there isn’t interesting qualities of 36th or Grazhdansky, but if you ever wanted to make a good impression on a foreigner, avoid those places.

    Grazhdansky Prospect is unfortunately Soviet. The symptoms of a post-Soviet city are in full effect here. The dichotomy of people, between the younger capitalist society and the older post-Soviet generation, is so apparent that it feels that the Soviet Union is hanging on with frightening strength, a shadow of the past that will not go gently into that good night. Being an American here is a mix of extreme interest and utter hatred. Although, I haven’t experienced anything but dirty stares and mutterings, the sentiment is there, and I can’t help but feel very unwelcome to a certain demographic. If there is one thing to be said from all of this: nothing is quite as simple as it seems. Anywhere you will experience a little bit of love and little bit of hate – whether you live on Grazhdansky like me, or in Tucson like you. Sweeping generalities aside: seeing the world for what it offers, in any country, region or continent, is an experience that educates unlike any other.

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