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Life of young people during pandemics in Russia and the US
“Life of young people during pandemics in Russia and the US” is the topic of Zoom conversation between Lomonosov MSU students and the Russkiy Mir classroom - NAU (Northern Arizona University). The meeting host is Larisa Brener, Europe and Eurasia Initiatives Coordinator at NAU, Flagstaff, Arizona.
- We greet everyone here. Today is the last day on this semester, but we hope that it’s going to continue for a long time! Today’s topic is the life of contemporary youth, students. We encourage you to tell us about your student life these days. Please, who can start? Maybe Tanya from Russian Chinese university. Can you start telling us about your life?
TANYA: Hello, everybody. Since I’ve spent most of my life as a student, I always put my studies at first place. Actually, I don’t know why my friends often make fun of me saying I have a life of those retired people in China. First thing, I am an early bird. I usually wake up with sunrise. It is my family rule. I remember my mom saying: you can go to bed as early as you want, but you should never wake up later than 8 o’clock. So, that’s the habit of mine. My lifestyle is quite regular and maybe looks boring to my friends because I prefer to stay alone or just to take a walk than to go to the party. I like countryside more than cities, hustle and bustle. And I like to do sports more than play computer games. So I’m not sure I can be a part of contemporary teenagers’ lifestyle!
- What is the difference about your life in China and in Russia?
- One of the biggest differences is that in Moscow I spend most of my time just staying alone in my room. But in China I would spend a lot of time with my family members or friends. I think that’s the biggest difference.
- Ok, can somebody tell our friends in Moscow about the life during pandemic in Flagstaff, or how your life is different.
CATHLEEN: I can go out with my friends, who like to go to parties. But I have one really close friend who experience difficulties socializing with people. Everything is online, and people get lazy to even try socializing now, because it’s scary. It’s not just me, it’s not just this other person; it’s actually happening to a lot of people. But we’ve got to do things, so that different people get home together and collaborate despite of the various challenges we are facing today.
Photo: Larisa Brenner with student
- What was your lifestyle before pandemic?
- I definitely used to go out a lot more. I lived in Kazakhstan, so I went to school every day. I was all in sports and a lot of clubs, I did everything. And I started university in the midst of Covid-19. I am not in a single club, I am not doing anything social. Everything has to be done with social distance.
- Dexter, tell me, how was your life different during the pandemic? And what can you add to this conversation?
DEXTER: Hello. Before the pandemic, I was more social than I am now. I was always out. I used to go to gym at 6 in the morning, or running at 5 in the morning. Then after the classes I’d go hang out with some friends and we’d go rock climbing at the gym in the area. But now, after over a year of home staying. And it’s mentally impacting.
- So you don’t travel, don’t go anywhere? I want to tell to our Moscow friends that right now youth and people in the US, like to explore the United States. So they travel, for example, to California or to Arizona.
- I work in Flagstaff, Arizona. I always ask customers where they’re coming from. They mention Oregon, California, et cetera. Why do they think it is safe?.. Do you know what I mean? In our campus, you always have to wear mask and to keep social distance. So I think it is difficult for me to be considerate of these all other people. And then we have a lot of other people who decided that it’s time for them to travel everywhere and do whatever they want.
Photo: The Center for International Education. NAU.
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- I like hiking a lot.
- How is the life in Moscow? Can our Moscow State friends tell us? Tatiana, please.
TATIANA: Frankly speaking, everything depends on a university and program type. There are some offline lectures, seminars, but most of subjects are online in our university. This semester I had only online seminars and classes. But we can always come to the university, and that’s nice. Libraries are also open. We can work on papers in the Russian State Library named by Lenin.
- What activities you can do apart of your studies?
- We can visit theaters or spend time with friends in cafes. We can go for a walk in parks, and that is a nice thing after the quarantine which we had previous year.
- What about your life, Hanna?
HANNA: I don’t really travel anymore like I used to do before the pandemic. I’d go to Phoenix to visit my uncle, or I used to fly to Boston to visit my dad’s family. Most of my friends don’t live here anymore. Some of them moved to college. One of my friends moved to another land... most of them moved to Oregon. I still have a couple of friends who live here in Flagstaff. I haven’t seen most of them since the pandemic started. The only people I’ve seen is my boyfriend and my old friends; occasionally we go and get coffee with mask. I don’t do much, because I don’t want get Covid. Both of my parents are over 65, so we can’t get Covid, I don’t want to get them sick.
- What is life in Chicago like now, Polina? Polina lives in Chicago.
POLINA: Well, during the pandemic we could go out to the grocery store and everything, but wearing the mask. And the restaurants were open for some time. And when they had a lot of cases and closed everything down. You could still do Uber delivery. Recently, they started slowly opening back. We had four or five phases, we were stuck in the first two or three for the longest time, because our cases were so bad because Chicago is really big. We recently just started reopening. Capacity in restaurants and places is like 75%, I think, maybe until 100% sometimes, it depends on how big the place is. So it’s slowly getting back. But sometimes, if you want to go to a restaurant, you have to reserve.
The downtown is totally empty. I had to go to downtown, where we used to have tons of people, thousands of tourists. Streets are totally empty now. I was very scared and sad. And everything is closed, totally. You could see lots of homeless people in downtown Chicago now… All businesses got closed due to Covid, because they cannot afford it, people have stopped going to them.
- Guys, let’s switch the subject. What are your favorite movies?
ALISA: My favorite movie is Mamma Mia.
ILYANA: Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears. This is the most famous movie. And think they have it in English as well, right?
CATHLEEN: I watched multiple movies in Russian, barely in color. We watched one about this doctor who put a human heart in the dog or something like that. Do you know what I am talking about? This is a dog who becomes a person because he has a human heart.
- Yes, it’s Bulgakov’s “The Dog’s Heart”. It’s one of the Soviet Union time movies.
Let’s talk with our student from MSU. Sasha is finishing her Master program in the Moscow State University, and she also works at the summer school. We teach foreign students Russian language and culture during the summer. Sasha, imagine that you are responsible to suggest students what to see in Moscow, maybe in Russia. What can you suggest?
SASHA: I think that first of all they should go to sightseeing as Moscow is a very beautiful city and we have a lovely architecture style. So, first of all you should see our Kremlin, our Red Square, all our monasteries and, of course, you should go to the Botanic Garden of the Moscow State University in May or in June just to see the fields of tulips. It’s an amazing show of tulips in Moscow. And of course, I would like to invite you to Moscow theaters to see our ballet and to listen to our opera. We have a lot of theaters, not only the Bolshoi Theater of Russia, but lots of other small theaters where you can watch very beautiful performances. For example, my favorite ballet is Nutcracker. And I hope you will enjoy it if you come and visit Moscow, and come with me to a theater.
We also have a piece of Chicago and a piece of New York in Moscow that you can enjoy. There are a lot of parks, like Kolomenskoye and Tsaritsyno. And, of course, you should visit Saint Petersburg and other Russian cities, such as Tula, Vladimir, Suzdal. We have plenty of organized tours for these cities.
- Danya, hi! What can you add to Sasha’s suggestions?
DANYA: You should walk along the Moscow River. This is something you must do! During the pandemic I spent a lot of time in my room, but when I got bored or got some kind of pressure, I just walked along the Moscow River, it’s a beautiful landscape, really.
- Ok, thank you. And if we happen in the US, what can you suggest and invite us to see? Hanna?
HANNA: I would say the first thing you should do is to see the variety of national parks. I love Yellowstone, but if you up to Grand Canyon, it’s so different, its climate and just the way it is. I would also recommend to go to New Orleans, to Mardi Gras…
- Dexter, can you tell something about Sedona, Arizona desert town near Flagstaff?
DEXTER: It’s a very well-known place for spiritual healing. There are a lot of people who come here from around the country and around the world. There is supposedly a vortex of spiritual energy here. And that’s what the town is very well-known for. There are many crystal shops, lots of new age, mystic shops. Also, the landscape is so beautiful. There’s a mix of red and orange of clay soil, and cool mountains. During the sunset, the sun hits the red rocks and it’s just absolutely gorgeous. There is a really popular church there — the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It’s actually been rated one of the seven wonders of Arizona. So it would definitely be some place for you to visit. It’s very architecturally unique church. It was built right after the World War II. Indeed, Sedona is one of the most beautiful cities in Arizona. I love it. My dad’s thinking of moving there. So I definitely recommend it.
- Wow, thank you, Dexter. I would like listen about your tastes in music. What music you prefer these days? What do people listen in general? And is there any place, any room for Russian music?
ALICE: I love listening to pop music, but a lot of people listen to Rap and R&B where I live.
GEORGY: There is certainly a room for Russian music. There are several singers that I personally like, no matter what other people say. I would go really for powerful voices: Polina Gagarina, and, probably, Sergey Lazarev. So I would probably go for these two if we talk about Russian music. If I am going to talk about popular culture right now, the K-pop (Korean pop music) is super popular now. For example, Got7 boy band. And I would probably go for Peaches composition - collaboration of Justing Bieber with other musicians.