Russia and America — Not So Different After All

In America, there is a stigma that Russia is a completely different world from our own, and in some ways, it is; however, in others, it is largely the same. Moscow native Elizabeth “Liz” Kalenova, 15, has lived in Russia for most of her life and described similarities and differences between the two countries.

In terms of social events, Kalenova said the two countries are not that different.

“We spend our free time walking around with friends and stopping at cafes to eat, drink, and communicate, although we might spend three or four hours there unlike in America,” she said.

She has observed that the United States is more supportive of all different types of people, cultures, and religions, whereas in Russia there are stricter social norms.

“In America, people are more open, even the way they dress. You can wear pretty much anything you want and people don’t really care. In Russia, the majority of people do not find that attractive,” she said. “I also don’t want to say that Russia is homophobic, and it has gotten better, but it is still more close-minded than America.”

The 15-year-old’s private school is much smaller than the normal American high school with only 16 people in her grade. According to her, having 40 people in a grade is considered large.

“Everyone knows each other, that’s why news spreads fast,” said Kalenova, “but everyone is willing to help if something’s wrong.”

She is hoping to study abroad for college, perhaps in America but she is still not sure.

“I feel like if I wanted to do something I would have a bit more freedom to do it here, like opportunity-wise–not that Russia doesn’t have any opportunities — but it’s like a concept, even people in America want to study abroad and get out of their hometown, so it’s basically the same thing,” she said.

Kalenova came to session two as well as session three in order to take more classes. In session two, she took mass communications and creative writing and in the current session, she is taking persuasive writing and journalism.

“It all started because I wanted to be a designer but my parents said ‘No, that’s not a career so you need to get a career first and make [design] your hobby,’” she said. Her parents encouraged her to choose a career in either marketing or journalism, so Kalenova hopes this program will help her decide which she is more interested in pursuing.

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