Saturday, December 8, 2012

12/9 - Dynamo Hockey, Chocolate Factory

I realize in the past few blog posts, I've been saying how I can't think to much about returning home, or I won't enjoy my last few weeks in Russia. However, its almost impossible at this point. We've spent over three months in Moscow, and we are starting to get homesick especially with the holiday season. I'm always the one complaining about the shopping rushes or the overplaying of Christmas music on the radio, but this year - I actually miss it. Finals are coming up this week in our classes, final program evaluations, written/oral proficiency exams, our final goodbyes, and then we are heading home. I can easily say that the general consensus is that we are ready to head back. 

Amanda, Brooke, and I in front of Christmas Tree or ёлка (yolka)

On Wednesday evening, seven of us attended a KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) or КХЛ Хоккей (pronounced the same in English) game near the old 1980 Olympic Stadium in Moscow. After the NHL, the KHL is considered the second-most talented hockey league in the world. This season, its seeing a growth in popularity primarily because NHL players are choosing this league as a Plan B until the NHL ends its lockout period (all the games are canceled due to salary issues). We saw Moscow's team HC Dynamo Moscow (Динамо Москва) play against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (ХК Локомотив). Also we got to see Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, both players for the NHL's Washington Capitals, play for Dynamo in Moscow due to the lockout! 

In my opinion, it is necessary to see a hockey game in Russia more than any other sport. This country has a strong hockey tradition, and its also interesting to compare the sport in the US and in Russia. For example, there are hardly any player-player fights or hard checks that happen in the KHL. If the referees see a fight start to boil up, they will rush in to stop it before it gets any worse. Whereas American spectators will expect and often promote fights in hockey games, the exact opposite happens here. Also, if you've experienced or heard about the famous 1980 American-Soviet Olympic hockey game, you should ask how a Russian experienced this event at the time. I asked my host mother about the Russian reaction to their loss in 1980. She said the Soviet people were devastated, and it was shocking to everyone who followed sports at the time. 

The Yaroslavl and Moscow teams shaking hands                             Alexander Ovechkin (Александр Овечкин) 
at the end of the game (seems to be an international                                 in action

Yesterday, we had our last program-sponsored excursion to a famous Chocolate factory in downtown Moscow. There's not a whole lot to say about this excursion except... well, this place produces a lot of chocolate and candy products. However, the content of the excursion exceeded my expectations, our tour guide started by showing us the origins of chocolate in Central and South America back thousands of years ago. Then we learned of the process of how a Cocoa seed is ground up, mixed with butter and sugar, compounded into shapes, and then wrapped for our convenience. Then we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory and its production processes. Moreover, we got to taste test their products as our tour guide walked us through. It was delicious chocolate!

Carsten, Nick, Seth, and I in our factory uniforms before entering the production area

Museum portion of the factory

Thanks for reading again! Unfortunately, my next post will be my last in Russia. This journey has been amazing and eye-opening, but all good things must come to an end. 

Countdown to returning home: 9 days

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