Fletcher Students Reflect on Visiting Moscow and Saint Petersburg

The first-ever spring break study trip to Russia, sponsored by the newly launched Russia and Eurasia Program at The Fletcher School, offered students a chance to experience Russia through cultural activities in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Here is what our students have to say about some of the highlights of the study trip:


Peter and Paul Fortress

“One of my favorite cultural site visits in Saint Petersburg was visiting the Peter and Paul Fortress. When crossing one of the bridges over the Neva River, the first thing you will see is the soaring golden peak of the Peter and Paul Cathedral. During winter time, the Neva river is completely frozen, which is truly an incredible site to see. Today, the fortress is the burial place of all the Russian tsars from Peter I to Alexander III. It was such a great opportunity to visit one of Russia’s richest cultural and historical sites.” – Cindy Garcia, MALD 2018


Christ the Saviour Cathedral

“On our last day in Moscow, we went inside the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, which was rebuilt after having been destroyed in 1931. It was late afternoon, so the sunlight illuminated the gold-leaf paintings and byzantine gates. As we walked around the enormous cathedral quietly admiring the different artistic influences, we could hear the ethereal voices of the church choir as they rehearsed hymns. I will always remember this cathedral when I think of Moscow.” – Mia Adamowsky, MALD 2018


State Tretyakov Gallery

“The paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky at the State Tretyakov Gallery were particularly memorable. His depiction of swirling sea brings viewers into the very painting as vividly. Stories to follow each painting at the gallery proved that Russia’s strong emphasis on its folktales.” – Dong-hyeon Kim, MALD 2018


Sleeping Beauty Ballet

“I could not think of a more perfect way to cap our exciting tour of Saint Petersburg than listening to Tchaikovsky at the Hermitage Theater. Watching the ballet in the same room that Catherine the Great once did was a unique opportunity to connect Russia’s past and present and to learn more about this country’s rich cultural heritage.” – Greg Ussery, MALD 2018



Red Square and Kremlin

“The best time to visit the Red Square and see Saint Basil’s Cathedral is at night. The red, blue, green, and orange hues of the cathedral are so much more prominent against the backdrop of a dark sky, and it is truly amazing to see the church and surrounding buildings lit up at night. If you stand at the entrance gates to the Red Square and look out across to the cathedral, it almost feels as if you have reached the end of the Earth.” – Cindy Garcia, MALD 2018


“I have never seen something so majestic and brightly-lit than the Red Square at night! I remember vividly walking up to Saint Basil’s Cathedral and gaping at the onion-shaped colorful domes. And as soon as I stepped into the open space, I was taken aback by the beauty that surrounded me. And for a moment, just a moment, I felt as if time had stopped.” – Mariya Ilyas, MALD 2018


Russian Cuisine

“Russia is full of incredible and rich cuisines that are hard to come by in the United States. We were able to try traditional Soviet style food like kharcho (soup), beef stroganoff, and kompot (fruit drink). We also tried Central Asian, Georgian, and Ukrainian foods like pilaf (rice and beef), khinkali (dumplings), and borscht, respectively. The best part of eating was being able to share our meals with our Russian colleagues from MGIMO University.” – Cindy Garcia, MALD 2018



“There were many Putin-related souvenirs that showed his presence in the world. I bought a one-ruble coin issued in 1987, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Russian revolution. I feel it gives me a sense of history.”


Moskva River

“Cruising through Moskva River on a boat tour was the perfect way to end our trip in Russia. We enjoyed good food, reflected on a memorable week, and marveled at the city shining brightly against the pitch-black sky. I am very grateful for the experience and it is something I will remember for a lifetime.” – Mariya Ilyas, MALD 2018

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