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My name is Meaghan Marks and I am a student from Superior, Wisconsin. I am visiting Russia with seven of my friends and a teacher.
Visiting Russia has been very interesting as it is quite different from home. It actually reminds me or Brooklyn in New York City. When we arrived in Moscow, we were all shocked to see how Russians drive. It seems to us that they are crazy drivers, seeing as they don't have as strict of traffic laws. Seeing them drive so fast and getting so close is quite strange for us. It is also odd for us that most people travel by bus, because most people at home have their own cars, including the students who are able to drive.
At home, everyone either drives or takes public transportation everywhere, and it is refreshing to be in a place where everyone walks and gets their good dose of exercise compared to us lazy Americans. I enjoy exercising at home, especially playing such sports as hockey, tennis, and American football. I walk to the hockey rink and then go to work out at the gym, so it is such an enjoyable experience to be with others who enjoy the same things that I do.
Since we have been here, we have gone to many places, but we happen to go to play billiards a lot. It is quite strange to walk in and see young people like ourselves smoking and drinking. At home, we can not smoke until we are eighteen and we cannot drink until we are twenty-one. We all love to go out and have a good time with each other. We spend a lot more time together here than at home, and it is quite enjoyable.
When I first arrived at my Russian home, I was shocked to see how similar Russia and America are. The people are actually friendlier here than at home and are quite welcoming to us. Many of us were worried about traveling out of the United States in a time of such heightened tensions among the many nations. Us being the war-monger nation of America, we are looked upon as hateful people, and it was a great feeling to come to such a welcoming home in a place where Americans are looked upon badly.
I must say, that Russia is a beautiful country, and I know that the people who have traveled with me agree. It is very funny that when we say that, many people laugh at us and call us crazy. WE ARE NOT CRAZY!!! It is a much more calming and welcoming atmosphere here than at home, because the people want to make a good impression upon foreigners. I think that after I finish out my military service, I will move here and live out the rest of my life. I may be an old person, but I feel as if I belong here, and that Russia shall be my true home.