Jan 20

On Wednesday I learned that wearing a jacket indoors is unacceptable and even offensive. With only 20 minutes left for lunch, I got in the cafeteria line in my winter coat. A middle-aged man got in line behind me. “Do you see the coat hanger over there?” he said. “Why are you wearing your jacket here? It’s not allowed. “A little caught off guard, I responded, “Well it’s a little cold. I’ll leave it there after I get lunch.” “You shouldn’t be wearing it here!” “Do you understand me? I’m a professor!” Eventually I pointed out the men in line, in jackets. He attempted to start an argument with them, but promptly gave up and I continued in the lunch line.

After classes I attempted to visit the New Tretyakov Gallery. I say attempted because I did not make it through the two-hour line in the freezing wind. I decided that I value my toes more than art. Others persevered. Here’s an article of photo and video evidence of this line (http://varlamov.ru/1575630.html). Though I never made it so close to the doors, it turns out the excited crowd broke the door in. Those who made it in were so cold that they washed their feet with warm water in the bathroom sinks.

In the evening, we went to an amazing restaurant on the 21st floor. It was the tallest building in the area and had a view of Moscow in all directions. The way to the restaurant was in a glass elevator. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good photo of the view but I did manage to document one of the best desserts that I’ve ever had.view.JPG




Jan 19

I started my day with breakfast in my room. My favorite “breakfast”food in Russia is a “glazirovanyj sirok,” meaning a delicious chocolate-covered cheesecake that I’ve turned into breakfast food by calling it “sweet cottage cheese”.

I then proceeded to sprint to class. We had conversational Russian followed by literature. In the 300-level group, we discussed our very busy weekends, including going to a flea market to buy souvenirs, and seeing a play and the Battle of Borodino panorama. We also discussed life at an all women’s college and our reasons for choosing it. In literature, we read “The Stranger” by Alexander Blok, which lead to a discussion of his philosophical idealism and the cult of the beautiful lady. This was particularly interesting to discuss in light of feminist thought, as a follow up to our Wellesley theme in conversational Russian.

After class we had free time. I decided to go to the new Tretyakovskaya gallery. I was deterred by the two-hour line outside. After waiting for half an hour in what I would call a blizzard (here, average Russian weather), I decided that art is not worth this suffering and gave up. The elderly women I chatted with in line stayed. They were more resilient than I can ever hope to be.

Instead I went to the Mikhail Bulgakov museum, in a communal apartment in which he lived in the 1920s. It was a fascinating look at his life and at life in Soviet communal apartments. Since his room was right across from the kitchen, he could hear daily arguments between neighbors over kitchen space. Occasionally, the police had to be called, when neighbors got into particularly heated arguments.

Bellow is a list of rules and standards for communal living, dispute resolution, and cleanliness standards in communal apartments. rulesThe sign on this chair in the museum reads “before you sit on this chair, think of the eternal.”


On the way to the museum, I also stopped by these outdoor swings. If you look closely, there are shoe dirt imprints on the ceiling above the swings. Unfortunately my legs weren’t long enough to leave my foot imprint on a Moscow ceiling.