Letter from New Delhi: Living in Moscow as a Student

“I didn’t know a single word of Russian; but people are so welcoming in Moscow.”

A young Indian student describes her experiences of Moscow and the Russians love for India…

“When I came to Moscow, I didn’t know a single word of Russian, but the people here were so over welcoming towards us Indians,” recalls Utkarsha Sharma, a bright young university student.

“For the very first half an hour, I was very depressed as I didn’t know anything and the people don’t speak much English but later, I fell in love with the country and the people. In October, 2015, I landed at Sheremetyevo International Airport, got off the plane, looked around and found everything surprising because of the language issue. But I reached my hostel, registered myself, and completed all the formalities.”

Soon she settled down. She visited the famous Red Square for a walk and enjoyed it. Moscow looks new, with apartments all around. This city is much cleaner. We go to clubs, but very rarely. “When I was coming to Moscow, people in India used to say it is a dangerous place. They warned me not to stay out long at night in Moscow but nothing bad has happened so far,” said Utkarsha.

“When you choose to study abroad, especially where you have the language barrier, trust me, it is one of the most difficult decisions to make. My mindset was totally negative for Russia before but after staying here, this place, it is more than HEAVEN for me. I have lived in UK for almost three years and I was never attached to that place like I am to Russia. My university people, hostel friends and my teachers are so good and so helpful.

“I found myself very lucky that I got this opportunity to study in one of the most prestigious universities of Russia, Bauman Moscow State Technical University. I am studying Masters in Management. This university is one of the oldest and one of the best universities in engineering, rocket science, Nano technology and more. We are only five Indians studying in the university and the total strength is around 23,000 and I don’t feel homesick. Food was never a problem for me here though I am a vegetarian,” she said.

She believes that Moscow is one of the best and safest places to live. The size of the Indian community in the Russian Federation is estimated at 14,000.

The Hindustani Samaj is the oldest Indian organisation in Russia. Set up in 1957, it has been in the forefront of social and cultural life in Moscow. It works in close cooperation with the Indian Embassy and maintains cordial relations with other Indian organisations in Russia, which include the Bhartiya Sanskritik Samaj, Brahma Kumaris, ISKCON, Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, Ramakrishna Society Vedanta Centre at Moscow (with a branch at St. Petersburg), AMMA, DISHA, the Indian Business Alliance, and Textile Business Alliance. The Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre encourages participation by the Indian community in social, cultural and other events and provides opportunities for bringing them together on a common platform.

An Embassy of India School in Moscow is affiliated to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathana in New Delhi with its staff on deputation from India. Apart from the children of Indian Embassy officials and other Indian nationals, some foreign nationals also attend this School with classes from I to XII and has 336 students.

“Russians are very much fond of Indians. Russians do watch Bollywood movies and I have met some Russians who are learning Hindi and Indian classical dancing as they love our culture and tradition. Bollywood stars, Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakrborthy are very famous here.

“There is so much to do here to entertain oneself. I always go for a walk in my free time. Red Square is one of the most happening places in Moscow, nearby is one very big and most expensive shopping mall GUM. You can find each and every top brand here. There are a lot of historical museums but I have seen only one, Museum of The Great Patriotic War. You can never get bored in Moscow,” claims Utkarsha.

Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi

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