Sunday, November 4, 2012

11/4 - Moscow State University, Exploring the Metro

I can't believe its already November! It's unbelievable that I've been in Russia for two months, and the Presidential Elections are on this Tuesday. With daylight savings time happening in the US, that leaves me 9 hours ahead of EST (Eastern Standard Time) as of this week. That being said, I'll probably be missing at least half of my school day to see the final results come in. Either way, I'll probably be drinking with my American friends here to either celebrate or complain about the result of the election. We have a drastically liberal abroad group (including myself), so we are hoping President Obama wins a second term in office!

Anyway, we had a long weekend in Russia (well, longer than normal). Our normal three-day weekend became a four-day weekend because our professors wanted to celebrate the holiday on November 4, known as День народного единства ("Unity Day"), which celebrates the day in 1612, when Muscovite heroes Minin and Pozharsky drove the Polish out of Moscow and started a new era of Russian Imperial dominance. More importantly, it signifies the strength in unification that defines Russian culture today, and November 4, 2012 marks the 400th anniversary of that day. 

Last Sunday, we were lucky enough to be able to see James Bond 007 Skyfall before it came out in the USA. Moreover, we saw it in Russian, which was definitely awesome, but also ironic at the same time. It was my first movie in Russian that I saw in theater, and it was really interesting to see the Russian crowd's reactions to different scenes in the movie. For instance, they laughed whenever someone was shot or killed, which came to a great surprise to my group. Regardless, I was happy that I understood a lot, and enjoyed another fantastic Bond film. 

Poster for the Художественный кинотеатр (literally "Art Movie Theater")

On Friday, we had an excursion to Москва государственный университет ("Moscow State University"), which is Moscow's most famous and oldest university, founded in 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov. He's known to many Americans as the Russian Benjamin Franklin, due to his groundbreaking achievements in a variety of fields from physics to chemistry to geology to art to history, and even math. Just to give you a gist of how big this school is - it employs over 4,000 academic staff, 15,000 other staff members, and the student body consists of around 40,000 undergraduates and 7,000 postgraduates. Its enormous, and this tour gave us a great idea of how large it actually is. 

The key thing to see at MSU (МГУ) is its main building, which is one of the Stalin "Seven Sisters," built in his famous Wedding Cake Architecture during the 1950s. I've seen the other Sisters around Moscow, but this is the first we were able to enter and explore. It's built around hundreds of massive marble columns, still decorated with Soviet symbols that were forced into the infrastructure. Its a stark reminder of how Soviet propaganda was not only influential in society, but also in the Soviet educational system. My favorite moment was our journey to the 31st floor of the building where we got a panoramic view of the city, seeing the Moscow River, the 1980 Olympic Stadium, among many other sights. 

Amanda and I outside the Main МГУ Building

View of the МГУ campus from the 31st Floor

Today was probably the least eventful day of the weekend, mostly because of disappointment over a trip me and some friends wanted to take. We were trying to get early morning train tickets to the city of Yaroslavl or Ярославль, but trains were unfortunately booked until the afternoon, which made a day-trip impossible. However, I made alternative plans with my friend Amanda, and we did a self-guided tour along to the well-known metro stops along Moscow's Red Line, and we saw some awesome sights!

In front of a Lenin Bust at Комсомольская (Komsomolskaya) Station

More adventures from Moscow to come soon, we might be taking a weekend trip to the city of Vladimir next weekend!

Countdown to returning home: 44 days

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