I arrived in Russia only two weeks ago to teach English to a host family, but it feels like I have been here for much longer than that. Not because I’m bored, but because each and every day is full of different experiences, experiences that I would have never had staying home in the United States. A different language, a different culture, a different people – simply a different way of life.
Despite having travelled to Russia before, living with a Russian family teaches me something new each day. How to not get lost in Moscow, how to eat блины (blini) properly, how to play checkers the Russian way – these are just a sampling of the things that I have learned.
I currently am staying with a family that lives very close to a town named Ramenskoye, which is located about thirty miles southeast of Moscow. To give a better understanding how far that is from Russia’s capital, it takes about forty-five minutes on an электричка (elektrichka), or electric train, to get to the edge of Moscow. Then another thirty-minute metro ride gets you right to the center of Moscow in Red Square.
The members of my host family are Gosha (the father), Irina (the mother), Maksim (11-year-old son), Darinka (13-month-old daughter), and Nadya (the babushka, or grandmother). Gosha is not home very often during the week because he works in Moscow and has to commute every day, but I’ve been able to spend lots of time with the other members of the family, especially with Maksim. Maksim has taken a liking to me, and introduces me to others as his “brother from America.” This is excellent, seeing as he and his friend Sasha are my main English students.
Since I’ve been with my host family, I’ve been able to visit many places in Ramenskoye and nearby areas. My first full day in Russia (June 1) was International Children’s Day, so, fighting against the jet lag, I went with my host family to Ramenskoye’s central park.
While there, I stopped by the World War II memorial. Next to the names of fallen soldiers and in front of the eternal flame is the inscription “No one is forgotten. Nothing is forgotten.” The memory of the tens of millions who died during World War II is very important to the Russian people, so monuments like this can be found in almost any city.
Another important part of Russia’s history is the Russian Orthodox church. While many consider themselves to be nonreligious in Russia today, the country is full of historical Russian Orthodox churches, temples, and cathedrals. I have encountered several of these beautiful sanctuaries in Ramenskoye, Moscow, and Ryazan (a city about three hours southeast of Ramenskoye).
This is just a small portion of the opportunities I have had since coming to Russia two weeks ago. Despite the unusually cold and wet summer weather, I have thus far thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ramenskoye learning from my host family and from local historical sites.
About the Author: Samuel Tew
I am a student at Florida State University studying International Affairs. I am a vocal musician and hiking enthusiast. I lived in Russia previously as a volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I am looking forward to learning more now as I live with a Russian family.