So I am reaching the conclusion of a 4-day weekend here in Moscow, and it was certainly eventful. We were fortunate enough to get Thanksgiving off from classes here because our professors knew that none of us would actually go to class anyway. Plus it's a chance for them to get a break from instructing on a holiday from which Russians are gaining an increasing awareness. Happy Thanksgiving is said in Russian as С днём благодарения (or S deyom blagodareneya). Like in the United States, this holiday signifies the start of the holiday shopping season, as Russians see the shopping craze unfolding every year on Black Friday or Чёрная пятница (Chornaya Pyatnitsa). Decorations start to go up, local stores offer sales, and Russians get excited about their New Year (Новый год) celebrations.
For the first time in 21 years, I was not home in New Hampshire for Thanksgiving. Instead, our resident director, Jon Smith, invited us to spend the holiday in his apartment. The majority of us had a wonderful time, we stuffed our faces with food, and watched a bunch of movies - Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mulan, and The Lion King. I have to thank my friends who cooked for us because they did a wonderful job. Surprisingly, it was not difficult to find the ingredients for our Thanksgiving favorites such as cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and macaroni 'n' cheese. However, the turkey is normally a cheap part of the meal, but not this year. Our turkey cost over $50, and it was only 10 pounds!
The abroad group for Thanksgiving (день благодарения) at Jon's apartment
On Friday, we got an exclusive free viewing from the Moiseyev Dance Academy downtown. The performance was only about an hour long, but we were able to witness some traditional Russian dances, Tango, and more. This was only made possible by our director Jon because he toured with Academy's students when they came to the United States. Also, I think we could appreciate this performance so much more because our group is taking weekly dance classes as part of our course curriculum this semester. Our dance teacher referred to dance or танца (tantsa) as гордость России or "the pride of Russia." The founder of the school Igor Moiseyev (1906 - 2007) would have agreed, and his name is one of the most famous in the Russian dance, choreography, and music industries to this day. Moiseyev was awarded countless Soviet state honors, as well as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) Mozart Medal for his contribution to world music culture.
With the dancers of the Moiseyev Dance Academy (wish my eyes weren't closed here)
On the metro imitating a monument
On Saturday, I was lucky enough to complete my Christmas shopping at the Ismailovo Market in Northeast Moscow. Following our shopping spree, my friends Jesse, Amanda, and I went on a self-guided tour of another part of the Moscow metro. On Sunday, Jesse and I went to the famous Novodevichy Cemetery or Новодевичье кладбище to see the graves of some of the most famous Russians and Soviets who ever lived. We saw the graves of Boris Yeltsin (first President of the Russian Federation), Nikita Khrushchev (former Soviet premier), Raisa Gorbachova (wife of Mikhail Gorbachev), Anton Chekhov (writer), Nikolai Gogol (writer), and many others. It is a must-see for all tourists and students studying abroad in Moscow. Its strange to think that I've already seen the graves of every Soviet premier, which are all located in Moscow.
Grave of Boris Yeltsin (могила Бориса Ельцина)
Grave of Nikita Khrushchev (могила Никиты Хрущева)
This journey has treated me well thus far, and I've seen my language ability progress and develop faster than I ever would have expected. In the final few weeks I hope to make trips to the provincial towns of Yaroslavl and Vladimir. There's not too much time left, so I have to make haste!
Countdown to returning home: 23 days