Visiting the USSR: A Trip of A Lifetime

Article excerpt

Abstract: To Russia, who me? That is actually how it all began. A decade or more ago, I had the opportunity to visit what was then known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Russia. Although, this place held high priority on my list of places to go, I never thought such a trip was within my reach. This idea was quite fascinating to me because of the events that did happen there, including the Russian space ship Sputnik and the dog, the high stepping military officers. Red Square and the St. Basil's Cathedral. After reading a lot about Russia, I thought it would be great to see a clean place, where it was unlawful to throw paper on the streets, and ride in public transportation such as the buses, taxis and the subway system, which were immaculately clean. It was an exciting trip, one, I will always remember, but would be a difficult adjustment to make, to live.

Key Words: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Russia, Kremlin, Moscow, Kalinin, Leningrad, Rouble, the Hermitage.

INTRODUCTION

General Tours, Inc., a travel agency of New York City sponsored the trip to Leningrad, Kalinin and Moscow in the month of December. Approximately one hundred eighty people, mostly strangers to each other, excited and uncertain as to what we would encounter, boarded a jet from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for a 7 hour flight to Shannon, Ireland, the first stop for a ninety minute refueling, relaxation and shopping for some of us. Afterwards, we continued on for another six hours to our first stop in the USSR (Leningrad), then to Kalinin and finally to Mockba (Moscow).

HISTORY

The migration of civilizations of ancient Greece (Huns and Tartans), Byzantium and Islam, left their marks on the eight million square miles of the USSR. In less than 50 years, Russia rose from a feudal economy to become one of the world's second most powerful industrial states. The climate and landscape, often described in the paintings, music, dance, architecture, literature and drama reflects the culture and diversity of the many people who made this place their permanent home. Then, Moscow was noted as the microcosm of the Soviet Union because the Tartars, Ukrainians, Uzbeks and Georgians were a cohesive group working and studying together.

Formerly the largest republic in the USSR, Russia became a separate federation on January 1, 1992 during the reign of President Boris Yeltsin. Moscow is the capital and extends across northern Europe and Asia, the largest country in the world with an area of 17,075,400 square kilometers/6,592,800 square miles. Lake Ladoga in northern Russia is the largest lake in Europe, with an area of 7,200 square miles. This lake drains through the River Neva into the Baltic Sea.

The population of Russia today, is approximately 150,000,000, comprising of 80% Russians and 20% mainly Asiatic people.

The climate ranges from supra Arctic in Siberia, to sub-tropical in Central Asiatic Russia. From June through September, European Russia's weather is similar to northern US. Crimea and the Caucasus in the south have mild winters and hot summers. February is springtime in Asiatic Russia; summers there are torrid; the fall is usually warm. Winters in the Soviet Union are fairy-like with bright sunshine, sparkling snowflakes and dry frost. The average temperature is usually between 10-26 degrees Fahrenheit. Russia is 8 hours ahead of the United States (Eastern Standard Time) in winter, and 7 hours ahead in the summer. The 24-hour clock is used. Red is considered the most beautiful color, because it denotes peace and happiness.

Although Russian is the official language, there are over 100 dialects, English, especially among students, is often spoken and many people speak German and French. The USSR was officially atheist, but tolerated the Russian Orthodox Church. Then, there were a few Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. There was also a large Jewish population. …