A Chinese Girl's First Month in Moscow

Weichen Tang on how she fell in love with the city.

A Chinese Girl's First Month in Moscow

My name is Weichen Tang, and I am from China. It's my first month in Russia. When I got off the plane and saw how beautiful Moscow was at night, I was curious and excited about my life in Moscow afterward. When I saw the signs in Chinese at the airport, I felt very close and excited by the great friendship between China and Russia.

My university had a Russian partner for me, and she came to greet me on my first day in Moscow. Thanks to her, I was able to get from the airport to my school dormitory without any problems. The dormitory room was very bright and clean. The dormitory staff was very friendly. I was able to complete all the check-in procedures very quickly. I started my real life in Moscow. The dormitory is very close to the metro station, so it's very convenient for me to get to the university. Moscow's metro is very convenient and well-connected, but it's also very crowded and complicated, and I had a hard time finding the exit at first. However, as I rode the metro more often, I learned the rule of thumb that every line and exit are clearly indicated, so if you read the signs carefully, you will easily adapt.

On my first day in the building, I was struck by the architecture of the building, which resembles a ring-shaped building, which is very different from the Chinese style. My first problem in my first class was finding the classrooms. Each building was connected differently to the other, with different floors and different entrances and exits, which made me have to spend a lot of time looking for the classrooms. So I spent a lot of time wandering around the building in the following days, and slowly I mastered the corresponding connections between the buildings—the library I found—and remembered the structure of the building, which was no longer a problem for me.

The first class I took was Spanish, and I am grateful to my department for arranging a second foreign language class to allow me to learn more languages. The Spanish class was taught in Russian, which was a challenge for me, but the teacher was very attentive and patient, explaining in Russian and English separately. In the Spanish lessons, I am not only learning Spanish but also Russian. I will work hard and hope to improve my Spanish and my Russian at the same time. Spanish is much easier than Russian, so if I can learn Russian well, I will be able to learn Spanish well. I have many Russian students in my class, as well as many students from other countries, and I feel very privileged that we are studying together. My Russian classmates are very multilingual, and I admire their understanding of the language. I feel that I should take my language learning more seriously and use it more to communicate and make the most of my new language.

The study of English is divided into English-speaking lessons and English grammar lessons. I like the teacher of the English-speaking class; her teaching method is very interesting to me; I can learn about a lot of current issues in her class, express my views on these issues, and listen to the different views of my classmates. In this class, I not only improved my English speaking skills but also practiced my English listening and reading skills. The teacher also took us to watch videos of good speakers and asked us to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and then apply them to our speeches. I learned a lot of tips and techniques about speaking, which will be useful for future studies. The English grammar class was a bit boring compared to the English-speaking class. But I can understand that any grammar learning is boring but useful, so I followed the teacher's mission to learn English grammar well.

My favorite class was a film-related class where the teacher introduced many famous films and introduced film adaptations. The teacher also analyzes the history of film adaptations of each famous book. We show our favorite films and introduce the students to the background content and significance of the films. What impressed me the most was the history and introduction to film noir, and I gained an insight into how film noir does not simply refer to color.

The most useful class was the foreign language teaching class, as I want to become a teacher after I graduate, so I think this class fits in very well with my career plans. In the class, the teacher asked each of us to try out a lesson in the role of a teacher and then point out to each other what was not working, and the teacher would then summarize the correct flow of the lesson and more appropriate classroom practices. We also plan the flow of the lessons for different courses such as grammar, speaking, reading, and listening. We study formal education documents to create a better lesson flow, study student psychology, and classroom activities and discuss more appropriate teaching methods for students. All in all, I got a lot out of this class, and every time I take it, I feel like a real teacher who is thinking about the students. One of the things that the teacher taught me that particularly impressed me was that the teacher could not speak too fast, but the most important thing was for the students to hear what you were saying and for them to understand what they needed to do.

Apart from the daily classes, there are also many clubs and activities at school. I joined a multicultural club with friends from different countries, and we shared our national New Year's customs and culture. We have parties together and go to the zoo together. I was able to deepen my understanding of the cultures of the world and respect each other's cultural differences. I also joined a Chinese club with many Russian friends who were studying Chinese, and I was ashamed of how much they explored and learned about Chinese culture. I tell them about Chinese customs and traditions; they ask me questions that have been puzzling them for a long time; and I am proud of my national culture while helping them. At the same time, they told me about the characteristics and culture of the various ethnic groups in Russia, and we became friends. Afterward, I took them to a Chinese restaurant in Moscow and gave them a taste of Chinese culture; for example, we practiced calligraphy and cooked Chinese food together. They also took me on tours of Moscow; we went skiing and skating together and watched ballet performances. It has made my life very colorful.

Then what amazed me the most was the school's restaurant. Salads and soups with their specialties are available in the cafeteria and are very tasty. The Russian desserts are so good and varied that I always go back after each meal to buy another dessert, and a different one every time! In a few days, I tasted Moscow caviar, borscht, and Russian pies, a mix of European and Asian cuisines, and one soup became my favorite. The Russians love soup, and the first course of every meal is soup, which may be related to the cold weather.

The library in the academic building rocks; it's like a cafe. There are sofas and little seats; it's really comfortable, and it makes you feel good to study there. And there are many types of books available for us to read in the library. Each shelf is clearly labeled with different types of books, and I quickly found the book I needed. In addition to the library, there is also a reading room, and the love of books in Russia is really beyond my imagination. I saw people of all ages reading everywhere on the metro, and I admired them and thought I should learn to read more from them.

In 1892, before his death, P.M. Tretyakov, an art-loving entrepreneur, donated his life's collection of valuable artworks to the city of Moscow, giving birth to the city's most famous gallery, the Tretyakov Gallery. With 60,000 works of art in the gallery, we were only able to skim along the long corridors to get a glimpse of the classics of Russian culture and art over a thousand years. I lingered in this one of the world's leading art museums.

I have now gradually adapted to life in Moscow, to the weather traffic, and the time of day. There are many more interesting and beautiful places in Moscow waiting for me to explore.

Text by

Weichen Tang