Vacuum Bags and Vitamins

August 23, 2011

With 8 days to go until I depart for Moscow, I’m catching up on my final doctors’ visits until next June, (I hope – with any luck, I will not be able to blog at all about the Russian healthcare system). Being me, I have of course started to think about packing. (OK fine, I kind of started packing, but then got really scared and decided to put it off until approximately 10 p.m. next Monday). Unlike Nate, I only have to make it to Moscow, so I get a full 50 lbs of checked luggage and a carry-on. Vacuum bags will be a lifesaver!

My preparation difficulties have all centered around a common theme in the Russian psyche – whether Russia qualifies as Europe or Asia? Technically it’s a Eurasian landmass, but Russian philosophers and poets have long argued over whether Russians are more European or more Asian… My answer, after struggles with which plug adapters to bring and the like, is that Moscow, at least, is more European. To save future travellers some searching on the internet – Russia has the same outlets as continental Europe. As far as travel regulations and advice goes, Russia is like the elephant in the room – it takes up about 12% of the world’s total landmass (twice that of the US), but no device specs seem to acknowledge its existence.

Russia is caught between Europe and Asia, but also, in my preconceived notions (largely based on tales from students in previous years and many Soviet-era movies), caught between civilization and… not. Luckily, I should be able to find any essentials I forget in Moscow, although they will probably be much more expensive than I’m used to. I’m bringing a year’s supply of vitamins and contact solution, as advised by students in previous years – but I will be sure to report back to my brother concerning his question: “Don’t they have vitamins in Russia?” Detailed comparison of the vitamin availability in Moscow supermarkets versus my local coop to come…

Most of my images of Russia are still based on movies made during the Soviet era or in the early ’90s – and even though I know so much has changed since then, those are still the images in my head! In just 8 days, I’ll be thrust right into modern, civilized Moscow – and I’ll be laughing about my (most likely, silly) preconceptions about contemporary Russia.

Until I pack,
Hillary

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