Italian Adventures in Russia
Alessandra Marabini and Francesca Di Furia are Italian exchange students living in Nizhny Novgorod. They are from University of Bergamo and have come to HSE on an exchange semester to study Economics and Russian Language. Both of them have been to Russia before so they are not fazed by the unfamiliar things they see going on around them. Nevertheless, as they tell us below, something new and surprising seems to happen to them everyday. The things that struck them most during their month in Nizhny Novgorod are public transport and the old houses.
Alessandra: the marshrutki (minibus taxis) are amazing! Or rather the parties in them - we even made a video of them with their the coloured lights, people crammed in tight, bright red curtains, music...you could write a whole dissertation on them!
Francesca: I was shocked to discover that people live in very old houses. Even in the centre there are ancient wooden houses with tiny windows and I couldn’t believe that people actually live in them. In Italy those kind of houses are abandoned and empty.
The students noticed several characteristics which distinguish Russians from Italians. They had the impression that Russians never get tired and can walk for three hours non-stop whilst for Italians an hour of walking is the limit. They also found that...
Alessandra: Russians walk very fast which is why they are slim.
Francesca: Or maybe it’s because of the cold, and they are always late for everything.
Francesca and Alessandra’s experiences confirmed that Russians are very friendly...
Francesca: Here everyone wants to know who we are and they try to help us. Our fellow passengers on the flight from Milan helped us with our luggage at the airport.
Alessandra: We went on a trip to Kazan by train not long ago and people were really curious about us and asked us all sorts of questions. The road is very a Russian thing. The journey is an important motif in Russian literature.
Francesca and Alexandra like everything at HSE but particularly the large number of young teachers, interesting classes, the varied homework, and not too much of it.
Francesca and Alessandra: We are glad we chose Nizhny — it’s a beautiful city with wonderful people living in it.