Who are you?

I am a junior Midd kid from South Hero, Vermont. I love hiking in my Green Mountains, listening to public radio, and cooking with family and friends. You are most likely to find me out skiing in the winter or curled up on the couch with The Economist or a good book. (At the moment it’s Bill Moyer’s latest – I would wholeheartedly recommend it). I’m excited for Moscow because right now I know what I like in the Vermont outdoors, but also have undeveloped passions for Shostakovich, public transportation, and political intrigue. I think Russia will be the perfect new adventure…

What’s your major?

I am a Russian and Political Science double major. (When I chose these two departments freshman year, I thought I was picking one practical major and one for fun. Any guesses which is which? Hint: It’s not what I thought I freshman year.)

Why Russia?

Why Russia for study abroad is really a question of why Russian for me in the first place.

Why Russian? If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that particular question…I could afford to live in expensive Moscow several times over.

My brother, having taken both German and Russian, planted the seed by talking about how much he loved both. When I showed up at the ice rink (sans ice) for freshman fall class registration, I put my name down at the top of the Arabic waiting list, then glanced around the arena for a replacement class. The three French classes I placed into were full, but right next to the French table was a white-haired man wearing about three sweaters – I think my brother’s constant refrain to take Russian (or German) kicked in right about then, and I marched right up to the table to sign up. That white-haired man? He would become one of my first-year professors, Sergei Sergeivich. Important footnote: I received an e-mail early on the first day of classes, informing me that the Arabic department was opening up five new spots in each Arabic class. Whether out of spite, because I already bought my Russian textbooks, or because I knew (somehow) that this language would end up being a true intellectual and personal joy, I politely replied to that e-mail in the negative, and headed off to my 9:00 Russian drill section.

Over the course of that first year of Russian, after reading Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, proposing to Sergei Sergeivich (we all did, for conversational practice, of course), and grudgingly loving the genitive plural, I decided the Russian language represented an exceptional challenge and Russian culture a unique paradox. Challenges and mysteries – worth a year abroad, don’t you think?

Why Moscow?

Moscow’s appeal for me lies in its museums, concert halls and energy of a big city. I plan to make the rounds of art exhibits, modern plays, and classic operas – all of which will be abundant and accessible in Moscow. As the center of Russian political life, I’m excited to experience first-hand the power struggle between Medvedev and Putin before presidential elections early next year and have the opportunity to visit the Duma (Russian parliament) as part of a class in the fall. Moscow is Russia’s biggest city and the center of the country’s political and business life, and I am ready to jump right into it. (Winters there are also a bit warmer than in Irkutsk…)

What are your goals for this year?

I will:

eat enough Russian sour cream (сметана) to last me until my next visit

visit Lenin’s tomb

read Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita in Russian

walk around Red Square, reading Anna Akhmatova (one of my favorite Russian poets)

travel to Saint Petersburg for the White Nights next summer

see Swan Lake at the Bolshoi

cook real Russian блины, without holes (like crepes or pancakes)

become a champion at elbowing aside fellow commuters on the Russian  subway – playing soccer has given me some great practice, but this will an entirely new sport…

perfect walking in stilettos on ice, like a real female Muscovite (for the sake of the promises I’ve made to friends and family about personal safety, I might have to forgo this one)

speak beautiful, perfectly-declined, unaccented Russian (well, by the end of the year, anyway)


One Response to “Hillary in the Capital”

  1. nateinsiberia said

    Woo, Hill!! Just saying hey to my cosmopolitan. How many things have you already knocked off of your “to-do list”? I think I’ve done or am currently doing four to five. If you substitute Onegin for Swan Lake, I’d bet that you’ve already cleared everything but the White Nights!

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