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Postcards from Russia: Blini and cat exhibits with Kate Atkinson’15

April 14, 2014

Kate Russia Postcard 1

Name: Kate Atkinson’15

Hometown: Leverett, Mass.

Where did you study abroad? Moscow, Russia

Kate Russia Postcard 3 

What is your favorite place in your host city/country?
Moscow is full of interesting places but one of my favorites is the All Russian Exhibition Center.  The Center, which is a huge outdoor park with themed pavilions and ornate buildings and sculptures in the Soviet propaganda style, was originally built in the 1930s for an agricultural exhibition. Now many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair and it functions as a mixed-purpose space for different exhibits (I went to a “cat exhibit” in one of the old pavilions), souvenir shops, outdoor markets, a theme park, and a collection of monuments to various Soviet leaders and accomplishments. It’s deceptively large and a really interesting place to explore when the weather is good.

Kate Russia Postcard 2 

What is the best meal you’ve had abroad?
Since I cooked most of my meals in the dormitory, I really appreciated any opportunities I had to eat in a friend’s home. I think the best meal was probably pancakes, or blini, made by my friend Anna’s grandmother. Her blini were especially buttery and delicious and she served them with sour cream and an assortment of jams and preserves she had made herself.  

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What is the biggest difference between Beloit and your host city/university?
The campus community at RGGU, the university Beloit has an exchange with, is very different from the campus community at Beloit. It was difficult at first to meet Russian students because we were in separate classes from them, and the majority of students live at home instead of in dorms. As a result there isn’t the same close-knit campus community that exists at Beloit. It was a challenge, especially with the language barrier, to try to engage with Russian students at the university and it definitely helped me develop my language skills and forced me to take more initiative in seeking out opportunities to socialize with Russians.

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What has been your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?
I participated in a month-long Russian exchange when I was in high school and one of my most exciting moments while I was abroad was returning to the city where I did exchange and staying with my friend Anna who lives there. Petrozavodsk is located north of Moscow near the Finnish border and it takes about 14 hours to get there on the train. It was so exciting for me to return to Petrozavodsk after six years and see the ways in which the city has changed. I felt incredibly welcomed by Anna’s family, who hosted me for four nights, and it was a needed change of scenery from the hectic, fast-paced atmosphere of Moscow. It was also exciting to return to Petrozavodsk and see how my language skills have improved in the years since my exchange.