Back :D What a plane ride though, 14 hours in transit, with a cold no less.. But this is what I've learned in list form:
1. The younger generation, and the youth-oriented cities, are hardly different than America. Okok, besides the 17th century churches on every block in Moscow and the old palaces lining the canals of St. Petersburg. The malls, the cafes, the band posters...forget any thoughts of the Soviet Union for sure.
2. The fashion (did you know this was coming? XD) EVERYONE, I'm talking like one-third of the whole population, wears black leather jackets and skinny jeans. I was so exotic-looking with my long hippie skirt and baggie hoodie it was unbelievable, haha. The women are so tall and yet they *still* don 6-inch heels as if walking on cracked sidewalks in stilettos is a piece of cake. I, honestly, felt so short and pudgy next to them..
Oh, and just about everyone smokes as well. The only thing that makes me hesitate to go abroad to Russia is that I'd be so tempted to expand my bad habits.
3. I feel like Russia is still coming of age, shaking off the communist era as its youth grow up in a different world. The communist regime wasn't bad for Russians, but rather different. And now there are kids being born, such as my tour guides little son, who haven't even spent their childhood in Russia. I see on the street old women in layers and handkerchiefs, looking out of place--lost. And then I visit a classroom of young kids, talking about their videogames and their cellphones... It is just a world apart. I feel like the whole of Russia is holding its breath, neither here nor there--waiting for those unfettered eyes to prove themselves.