Culture Cafe: Russia

Hello everyone! Did you miss us? We are back and happy to announce a new season of our Culture Cafés. As per tradition, we opened the season with a Culture Café dedicated to our motherland, our beloved Russia. We couldn’t miss an opportunity to introduce our charming country and tell you some interesting facts you probably hadn’t heard before. Let’s refresh our memory and recall some of the brightest moments from that cozy September evening.

How much do you know about Russia? That was our first question to test everyone's knowledge, and most did quite well! Some facts were extremely surprising, like the shortest distance between Russia and USA. And some were not so surprising, such as the fact that Russians actually have kind souls - we are not so cold and grim, like stereotypes would have you believe!

Certainly, we taught you some useful Russian phrases to make your life here easier and much more comfortable. Now you know, if someone in public transport, especially metro, asks you “Vy vykhodite?”, this means the next station is his/her stop and you need to change places with them if you are not also getting off at the next station. We can’t live without tongue-twisters, and neither can you, right? That mission seemed impossible, but you successfully complete it! Now you can easily impress anybody by reciting the tongue-twister about Karl and Klara!!!

After dealing with language barriers, we moved to a brief history talk. As you know, our history is very long, very rich, and full of significant events, which had a big influence on world history. So we decided to mention the major milestones, starting from Kievan Rus’ and ending with the present-day Russian Federation.

The the most entertaining part of our Culture Cafés are the cultural segments. And integral part of Russia’s culture is its beliefs. Nowadays it’s hard to find a person who isn’t even just a little bit superstitious - even people who think that it’s weird still find themselves abiding by strange beliefs or supersitions. Our quiz was tricky and not so obvious, because easy life is not for us!

And life wouldn’t be as interesting without art, so we talked about that, too. We discussed classical music by famous composers, like Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninoff. In addition, Russian theatre is also known worldwide thanks to Anton Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavski. Of course, that’s the smallest part of one big and diverse Russian culture, but we tried to make you interested in it and feel enthusiastic about it.

And the last stop! Traveling around Russia and discovering our hometowns. You know that a lot of ESN HSE Moscow members aren’t originally from Moscow. We represent different cities from all over our vast country. If you want to feel sea vibes and sunbathe then you should definitely visit the Krasnodar region, where there is amazing weather year round, especially in the summer. If you’re tired of constant rain and grey sky, this place is for you. Go there to relax and experience some of Russia's famous resorts. The next destination was Mari El Republic, a place where you can find a Kremlin that looks the same as the one in Moscow (but be careful, don’t mix them up, they aren’t exactly the same). Yoshkar-Ola is the capital city of the Mari El Republic, a place with impressive and beautiful architecture. We moved on to Cheboksary, a small and clean city with plenty of green trees and plants. If you are a language lover then here is a riddle for you: read this word - Shupashkar. It’s name of Cheboksary in the Chuvash language. And last, but not the least - the Siberian city of Omsk. After this Culture Café, we understood how boring our life is because all the craziest stories happen in Omsk. Moreover, you can experience a real Siberian winter there. But don’t be afraid; it’s not so harsh and frightening!

So that was our first Culture Café of the year. We want to thank everyone for coming and sharing all these bright moments together. It’s a big pleasure for us to introduce our motherland. We hope you liked our journey and got inspired to explore something new. We are open to any ideas for virtual traveling, so feel free make a suggestions and help us, help everybody, make the world smaller than we think it is.

Looking forward to seeing you at our next Culture Café!

Text: Svetlana Dzhafarova