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A summer spent traveling

NIKKI LEDBETTERspecial to the daily

My name is Nikki Ledbetter and I’m a world traveler, or at least that’s what my mom says. I’ve traveled to many places in the world, ranging from California to the Czech Republic and experienced many different cultures and native perspectives on life. This summer is my first trip back to Moscow, Russia, since I was four years old. I lived in the city from the age of two months to four years, but now I am getting a taste of the Russian culture once again. I’m planning on reliving my days as a toddler with my father and my Russian godparents. However, I do still consider myself a Colorado native. I was born in the state’s capital of Denver and was raised in Summit County for my whole childhood and early teen years. I attended Summit Cove Elementary for all six years and then took the next step up to Summit Middle School. High school has been a bit different however. Instead of taking the natural progression forward to Summit High School, I have been attending Colorado Rock Mountain School; a private school in the scenic small town of Carbondale, located about 30 minutes outside of Aspen. Although I have some expectations about the cultural lifestyles, I feel even more overwhelmed by other factors. While the English language is mainly derived from the romantic languages such as French or Italian mainly found in Western Europe, Russian is a breed of its own, so I highly doubt my middle school and high school French is going to help me out in Moscow. This also means that navigation will be tricky as well, considering the Russian lettering is different, and it doesn’t even sound like what it appears to be (who knew the American ‘r’ would translate to the Russian ‘p’?). These three weeks in the heart on Moscow will be quite an experience for me, but I’m ready to once again immerse myself in a culture I have almost forgotten.

Driving in Moscow (from Sunday, June 24)The temperature in Moscow driving from the house of Medvedev (my “Russian family”) to the Academy of Moscow was staggeringly hot. I was drifting in and out of sleep in the back seat when suddenly I noticed out of the corner of my eye a white van come darting out of the far right lane of traffic across four lanes – in one sweep to be driven inches away from the front bumper of the car I’m riding in. I’m shocked by this act of driving and I expect to hear noises of frustration from Masha, the eldest daughter of he Medvedevs, like I would hear from my mother when somebody cuts her off, but there was nothing. In fact, she couldn’t have looked more at peace.I soon found out that that type of driving wasn’t uncommon in this area. There were many drivers on the road – if not all of them – who constantly made unpredictable moves with their cars. So no wonder Masha was calm about it, she had probably been around it her whole life.

After the first incident I begin to notice more and more “different driving techniques.” I found that it was a miracle when several times you could find four cars across on a three-lane road. Even Masha made some questionable moves, such as sitting perpendicular in oncoming traffic to get to a lane on the other side. After this driving, Summit County drivers are very polite and have “tamed” their driving. Barbecue – Russian style (from Sunday, July 1)One weekend in Russia, my dad and I decided to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city life and take a trip to the countryside to visit my dad’s longtime friend, Igor, his wife, Karinna, and their two young daughters, Sasha and Natasha.

There are several different aspects of life in the countryside that differ immensely from the city, but one that I particularly enjoyed participating in was the Russian barbeque, commonly known as shashlik. Shashlik is any type of meat that has been marinated for about 24 hours in a special sauce (it varies depending on where you are) and then grilled over a coal fire until ready. You can also find shashlik in high-end restaurants in Moscow as well, but this tradition first started in the more rural areas. In fact, people in the rural areas travel great distances from their homes – deep into a nearby forest – to hold their shashlik.It begs the question, though. How does Russian barbecue stack up to the famous, traditional American style? The main similarity I find between the American barbeque and the Russian shashlik is that it is a good time to share stories, laugh and have fun with family or friends. However, even though there was a lot of great food being shared at the shashlik, I particularly enjoyed listening to anecdotes from Igor about his daily lifestyle and playing a version of volleyball with Sasha.


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