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Culture Cafés 2018/2019

Dear friends, our guests and listeners, it’s time to sum up this productive study year. We’ve achieved unbelievable results, and all because of doing it together with you. We’ve hold 14 events dedicated to different countries, enthralling parts of our big world. Every Culture Café was made with love and desire to interest every one of you, to inspire you to reach new heights and improve yourself. For us, it was a pleasure to share all these moments with you, hope you feel the same! Let’s refresh our memory, we’ll remind you all the best moments of our meetings and recollect those brilliant emotions!

As a tradition, we opened a new season of Culture Cafés with welcoming new students by introducing ourselves, presenting our motherland - our enormous and charming Russia. We shared our tips how to live in Russia, one thing everybody liked the most was a «Russian survival kit» –everyday useful phrases which will set you apart from a regular tourist straight away. We talked a lot about national cuisine, our rich history and vast spaces of our homeland. It was very soulful Culture Café, not only was our aim to give you some information about our country, but also make you feel like you’re at home.

 A month later we met to listen about Foggy Albion. Many thanks to our ESN students from the United Kingdom who prepared amazing presentation to tell facts we hadn’t known before. We have learned about some cities other than London and dived into interesting history of country. Of course, we couldn’t miss such an important part as UK culture. First thing comes to mind is brilliant literature, it’s all about J.K. Rowling’s worldwide known history about young magician Harry Potter and also about classical literature like Charles Dickens. Furthermore, we had enough time to talk about modern cinema industry and discuss our favorite British actors. This Culture Café was magical, we seemed to immerse into everything British, it was unreal atmosphere which made our ordinary October brighter.

 Our last month of autumn we started with exploring Germany. We are really grateful to our ESN German students who provided insights for us. Very famous people who we know about because of their inventions or cultural and science achievements were introduced to us as famous Germans. In addition, we tried to identify ourselves as Germans by checking list of a real German-being. And the last one was the most captivating part of every our meeting - making an acquaintance with tourist places and traditional delicious food. We did it great! Got amusing energy from our international students and became eager to go to Germany and taste real German beer.

 Our Culture Café map is extraordinary, it has various countries with all sorts of  cultural features and traditions with different history length and particular qualities. Our fourth meeting was dedicated to a very young country with very long history – Israel. HSE Jews Club together with our HSE Israeli students tried to put all the important things about this fascinating country into three-hour presentation. We talked a lot about the present day Israel, its modern cities and cultures. We haven’t missed introduction about geography and some additional information about traditional food. And ended an evening on a highest note possible – with a workshop on how to make tahini which we all shared afterwards with some delicious pitas.  

 After visiting Israel, we decided to continue our Eurotour and moved straight to the Netherlands. Many thanks to our presenter David from the Netherlands who made this adventure just marvelous. This Culture Café started in a quite unusual way by dividing the audience into teams. Each team got its name after one of the Dutch cities and even got some of the Dutch sweets to share for the later. Then we proceeded to learn about those cities. We discovered plenty of knew and unknown for us facts, found out about main festivals and tried to practice Dutch language. Overall, it was a beautiful evening filled with interesting information, fun games and delicious snacks.

 Our start of December was really symbolic as we talked about mysterious Finland. Thank you, our ESN students from Finland for giving us such a good start in discovering this country with extremely beautiful landscapes. Briefly touching on the country’s rich history, we moved to learn about some of the most interesting places of the country. The most astonishing for us was Lapland, after this Culture Café we got another one big dream to visit this wonderful place. This is perfect spot if you wish to experience the Northern Lights or White Nights. And do not miss your chance to meet the real Santa Claus, or as you would call him in Finnish, Joulupukki. We ended up this Culture Café with dreams about traditional Finnish sauna. Hope, someday we’re going to try!

 On the last days of 2018 year we organized grand rehearsal of a traditional Russian celebration of New Year. We wanted to make everyone familiar with our peculiarities that is why we tried to recreate a real scenario of how we celebrate this holiday every year. Everything was like an instruction, step by step, to make it clearer for everyone, what is the most important for us during the New Year celebration. We mentioned our tradition of writing wishes on the paper, burning them and putting ashes into a glass of champagne. We couldn’t skip our Soviet films and special TV programs, and, of course, there wouldn’t be any celebration without our Ded Moroz. New Year has its own special atmosphere when you feel magic everywhere, at this time you want to believe in miracles, and our wish was to let everyone feel this Russian magic!

 After a small break we returned to habitual study process and opened new semester with presentation about our mother – country Russia. This new semester welcomed new international students from different parts of the world, so keeping to tradition, we introduced ourselves and our home to new ESN students. It was spiritual, we showed our deep Russian soul and shared our kindness with everyone!

 In the second semester direction of our trips totally changed: on February 20th we gathered again for yet another Culture Café, this time dedicated to sunny Columbia. Great thanks to our ESN Colombian students for taking us with you. We started by learning of Columbian flag – yellow, blue and red. It’s as bright and colorful as the country is. There were presented some places to go as a tourist, firstly, the main cities, secondly, breathtaking nature. You can hardly find a better place to visit if you love nature. Columbia is reach not only in the nature department but in the cultural one as well. The diversity of architecture styles is astonishing – you can find ancient sites, hundreds of years old cathedrals and modern buildings all around the country. As always, we finished our Culture Café on a delicious note trying very tasty dishes. We wish someday to drink a cup of freshly made Colombian coffee in the streets of this amazing country!

 That semester was really extraordinary, as our journeys were so different from each other. Our next destination was South Korea. We’re saying «thank you» to our ESN students from South Korea who helped to make the beginning of Moscow spring lighter and brighter. We talked about popular Korean culture: K-pop bands, K-drama series and, of course, Korean food. More than that, we had a virtual excursion around capital of South Korea – Seoul: visited the most popular and crowded district, found out about a famous amusement park and found perfect place to sing karaoke. Trip to South Korea is one of best decisions for you to made, you’ll definitely get unlimited portion of emotions and immerse into culture of this nice country!

We started sunny April with a journey to Armenia, our ESN students from Armenia Silva and Vardi made this trip possible and unforgettable, we’re really thankful! It was absolutely informative and outstanding Culture Café, as we explored every side of Armenia very circumstantially: immersed into history, into cultural heritage and amazing natural landscapes, discovered difficult Armenian language and our favorite part – tasted national and amazingly delicious food. We’ve found out plenty of unknown or not so good known facts about this fascinating country that is why our desire to visit enchanting Armenia has grown bigger!

 On 24 of April, we came together to visit Bangladesh. Many thanks to our international ESN student Reza Habib for preparing an extraordinary program of virtual short journey to this sunny country. That was a real discovery for everyone as we talked about political and economic life of the country. Certainly, there was time for discussing its own culture which includes traditional men and women clothes, national cuisine and various festivals and holidays. Our presenters recommended us several places to visit, you can choose the most appropriate for you: maybe you’re a nature lover or, probably, you’re fond of modern Asian cities. We’re glad to have a quick look at this country, now we are ready to visit Bangladesh as tourists!

 

In May, we decided to go to Uzbekistan, thanks to our international ESN students Imamkhodjaeva Vasilya, Eugenia Golovkina, Bekzod Karimov, Nina Ladinskaya who have discovered a new country for us and left only unforgettable and enjoyable memories about it. Now we are aware of main Uzbekistan characteristics which are hospitality, one of the most tasteful cuisines, tradition to have big and bright celebrations etc. Our international friends tried to teach us Uzbekistan language, hope we’re not so bad! We were very interested in diverse places suggested to visit, there are plenty of traditional architecture sights and historical monuments. Sometimes we wonder that nothing can surprise us, but every time new Culture Café country succeed in doing this, but we’re not against it. Uzbekistan isn’t an exception. It melted our heart, so we’re getting ready to see all this beauty with our own eyes!

 The last Culture Café of this study year was dedicated to the whole region - South Asia. Our international ESN students Bharatha Natyam, Priyanka Kumar, Mahrukh Bhur, Reza Habib, Vishmi Ranatunga, Sarita Lamsal and Hamisha Rizal prepared a very big presentation to widen our knowledge about this magical region, we’re truly thankful to them for making this adventurous trip for us. We got an opportunity to explore the region in details by listening presentations about different countries on one Culture Café! It was full of new information, especially new knowledge about cultural aspect of each country. On this meeting we tried everything: speaking various languages, tasting uncommon food, enjoying beautiful views of landscapes and so on. It was nice end of study year and our meetings, we got unreal energy and desire to do something, to reach aims, and the most important - to travel more.

 Certainly, we want to send all our gratitude and the best wishes to the person whose aspiration for doing this world more interesting for us, whose planning and actions to keep us together were more than something exciting and outstanding. It was everything. We want to thank our lovely Culture Café coordinator – Ekaterina Kravtsova. Kate, many thanks for your inspiration and motivation, it was a perfect job! We wish you to develop further and love this world more and more with every day, make real all your fascinating dreams and collect unforgettable memories!

 Thank you everyone for being with us all this time, thank you for an opportunity to live these moments together. It’s not the last point because we can’t stop and we won’t stop. We’re full of enthusiasm and energy to explore more and more magical places of our colossally big world and, of course, we’re glad to share it with you. We’re taking a small break to relax and feel summer vibes, wish you to have the same, spend your summer vacations as cheerfully as possible. Just smile, enjoy your life and stay tuned with us. Looking forward to seeing you in September!

 With lots of love,

Your Culture Café team