Thursday, August 23, 2012

Washington DC and Orientation


Here I am again for a pre-departure orientation for another trip to Russia. I have decided to keep this blog up for the duration of my trip (9 months) and, while thinking about what I am going to say, chose to approach this blog from a particular direction.

I plan on posting once every few days or, in rare cases, everyday. I am going to do my best to discuss things that many americans do not know about russia or may not quite understand. I have, obviously, talked to various different friends, family members, and colleagues about my travels and it almost instantaneously becomes apparent that the average american does not really know that much, if anything, about russia. Most importantly, I spent a large part of the summer with one friend and a decent amount of time with his family and he would always imitate a russian accent and recite comedic stereotypical anecdotes about "soviet life." The stories were usually pretty funny and I definitely did not take any offense from them but, at one point during a conversation with his sister, she mentioned how she would not want to visit russia because everything seemed depressing/scary/shady/etc. I can COMPLETELY understand where she was coming from and why she would be hesitant, as a normal american, to travel or visit or really have any desire to go to russia.

Naturally, I am pretty biased (positively towards russia), but regardless of that, I aim to either break or at least bring to light certain stereotypes and misconceptions many americans have of russia and russian culture.

It would be easy enough to fill this blog, as the year goes on, with stories of how crazy or unbelievable or stereotypically "soviet" random experiences I have but, I have realized, it would be more dynamic for me to portray the less talked about, incredible and universal aspects of russia that I always seem to leave out when telling my friends at home about the scary stray dogs or the drunk airplane pilots.

I will also aim to provide a decent amount of pictures to go along with my posts and try and be as less wordy as possible (hard for me). Feel free to comment or ask any questions and I will be happy to respond and answer them to the best of my ability.

Orientation is going well. After working for the UCLA Center for World Languages all summer, I can really appreciate the time and effort that gets put into organizing welcome packets and folders with various pieces of paper in them (that's for you Agazit :P). We leave tomorrow in the middle of the day so the next time I see this blog will be on the other side!

Thanks everyone for taking a look and I hope you enjoy it :)



  1. I look forward to reading more Swiddle. Have a good trip!


  2. This friend who criticize Putin should be thrown in gulag to rot with capitalist pig americans.

  3. haha, sam!

    I'm so excited for you Syd! Have a safe flight, and hope that peter welcomes you back with open arms :). love you!