Moscow is full of surprises - Indonesian student

Indonesian students in Moscow. The author standing on the extreme right.

Indonesian students in Moscow. The author standing on the extreme right.

Personal archive
An Indonesian student shares her impressions of the Russian capital and the misunderstood inhabitants of the metropolis.

Thanks to a Russian Government scholarship, I have been studying at the Higher School of Economics since September 2015. Over the last six months, a lot of things that have surprised me about Moscow.

Warmth of the people

Some Indonesians think Russians are cold and uncaring but my first experience in the country made me believe otherwise.

When I landed in Moscow, I had two large suitcases with me, and was struggling to take them downstairs (and upstairs) in the metro. Some local men came to my rescue and helped with the suitcases, without me even having to ask.

Here even strangers say hello. The younger ones use the informal ‘privet,’ while older people prefer the formal ‘zdrastvooyte.’

Walking long distances

I was told that my university dormitory was close to the metro station. By Russian standards, a 20-minute walk is considered short.

In Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, we don’t walk that much. We prefer to use motorcycles, even to go to the minimarket near our house. Here in Moscow, people walk a lot more. Russian people walk incredibly fast!  It’s no wonder that no one wants to go hiking with Russians.

Tasty desserts

Indonesian people take a lot of interest in culinary traditions of other countries. In Moscow, I can easily find many tasty dessert items such as Napoleon pastry and cheesecake. My favorite Russian dessert though is chocolate cake. I let the chocolate melt in my mouth.

Nice parks

I have lost track of how many times I have been to parks in Moscow. Some students prefer visiting Gorky Park, Sokolniki Park, or Izmailovsky Park but I like to go to the wooded Vorobyovy Gory or Sparrow Hills. There is also a nice and panoramic view of the city from the top of the hill, near the Moscow State University. 

Another place I like to visit is the Moscow Zoo. I can visit the zoo for free since I have a student identity card. I saw a polar bear for the first time in my life when I visited the zoo.

Holidays and events

There are a lot of holidays in Russia including the New Year break, International Women’s Day and Men’s Day

There are also many special events. I witnessed the Maslenitsa celebrations near Moscow’s Izmailovsky Kremlin. 

Russians are very fond of flowers and I see so many people carrying flowers on the streets of Moscow. The most beautiful sight is a pre-wedding photo session.

Russian food

For someone who likes chilies in her food, Russian cuisine is really bland. In order to satiate my desire for spicy food, I had to go from market to market to find spices. Since they are imported to Russia, spices tend to be very expensive.

I asked an Indonesian friend of mine to send me five bottles of Kecap, a sweet soya sauce. Russian food would taste a lot better with a few drops of this sauce.

Unlike Jakarta, street food is not easily available in Moscow. You have to walk long distances to find cafes. 

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