Our second day of classes passed relatively calmly. In our literature lectures, both groups read verses by Anna Akhmatova, a famous Russian poet of the Silver Age modernist school, whose poetry often references the city of Moscow, both as a physical entity and a spiritual idea. In Academic Terminology class, the 203 group practiced vocabulary connected with the circus, while the 303 group learned the history of the Moscow metro.
After classes let out, we all gathered in the lobby of our dormitory building, well dressed for the winter cold, and poured out into the snowy street, following one of our professors down winding streets to Mendeleevskaya Station. Once we had all ducked down the stairs into the warm station and listened to our professor’s brief story about the rather cute statue of a stray dog who once lived there, we hopped on the subway train up to Dostoevskaya Station, a new and contentious construction farther out along the gray line. There we admired the stark black, white and gray stone depictions of scenes from Dostoevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment” (“Преступление и наказание”) and the massive portrait of the acclaimed author’s face that can be seen on the station walls.
After taking a good, long look into Stone Dostoevsky Face’s soulful eyes, we traveled down to Mayakovskaya Station, a much older piece of architecture renowned for its beauty, named in honor the Soviet writer known as the “Poet of the Revolution,” whose verses are inscribed on the ceiling along with gorgeous mosaic frescos. Standing in Mayakovskaya Station and staring straight up, it was easy to see why the Moscow metro was once called “the people’s palace.” It was also easy to understand why some are unhappy with newer stations like Dostoevskaya, which is decorated in a completely different, perhaps gloomier (or at least less blazingly colorful and optimistic) style.
Nonetheless, we Wellesley students agreed, it’s considerably cooler than any station of the T!