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Can you believe that the year is almost over?

2021 is flying by and once again we see New Year's decorations. It's a time when Moscow literally shines, with lights all over, with snowfalls sometimes even for a whole day, without a break. It can be then even compared to a fairy tale city.

By now, I have an overlook of how I spent this cycle. Thus I realize that I actually photographed less this year. Or maybe I miscalculated, who knows. In any case, even if there's not too many, I do keep my favorite moments in my mind so 2021 can be highlighted in my mental film.

I had the opportunity to see the fascinating nature of Karelia in the north of Russia. I spent a great time visiting Saint Petersburg while the city experienced the beginning of its hottest summer in history. I saw a bunch of small towns not far from Moscow and even had the chance to paddle with a SUP down a river, with the ancient monasteries and Kremlin of Suzdal. And these are just little bits of all I have seen this year. I can therefore say, 2021 hasn't been bad at all.

Within the short time left before this year becomes history and nothing else, I would like to accomplish a few things. One of them is to keep learning, in a more effective way, about Russian culture. Go even beyond what I have already got having lived here all this time. It’s not a secret to many of you that I already did several trips in this country. To maintain this exploration spirit, I have arranged a trip for this month of December to a quite remote point of Russia. You will see what that place is in my next post.

Another thing that is quite helpful to help understand what this culture is about is talking. I mean, you might have never thought about it but, it is common to many people that they travel to all sorts of places in this world and they do see wonderful things. But, considering what I have gained from chatting with those locals I meet on every journey, I can say that we miss pretty much the essence of each place when we forget to connect with those who live there.

For the sake of good chatting and valuable information I have decided to set up some interviews with friends and acquaintances, all Russians, and let them tell whatever they find important mentioning when the subject is their culture, their society and so on. I brought, as my first guest, Mia, a Youtuber friend and Instagram influencer to talk a bit about some curiosities about Russian people.

Among the many things we discussed, one point strikes me most:

- do you think that now we have more russians
leaving russia to live abroad than before?

-yes it's definitely true

Surely, it is a matter where I have zero rights to judge people’s attitudes, especially looking at my condition - an expat. However, as you can see in the video by yourself, we specifically picked one factor, out of various that lead people to do this. That factor was the climate.

What worries me is, to think that, a huge part of the Russian population bought this idea of “better place to live”, ignoring any possibility of a good living in their own places. As a result, slowly, these cold areas become emptier and the ways of living, unique from these places, start fading away.

Sounds like I am going too far. It is because you haven’t yet tried to conceive how these cultures come to exist.

You can go deep in Siberia or visit a small village in the Caucasus, it doesn’t matter where. If there is a concentration of people, then they certainly have a common story, customs, and faith. They have their own way of life which is born out of people’s struggle and willingness to settle somewhere. In other words, cultures shouldn’t be compared just for the sake of deciding which one is better since they’re not constructed upon such a goal. They are simply the result of people trying to carry on with life.

And this is not what fascinates me most.

The most amazing thing for me is to notice that, despite the almost inhuman conditions imposed by nature in most of the territory of this nation, these people have adopted such a complex understanding and organization of life, not any less complex than one could find in a warm country. There are talented poetry writers, musicians and painters living in towns where the temperature reaches minus forty.

I would summarize this observation this way - “Nature shaping human beings to their best.”

It looks like the greatest lesson we take out of cultural exchange, the most fulfilling, can’t be transmitted in words. Even though you can logically absorb all information that is shared through writing, speech or visually, yet the feeling is something that can exclusively be experienced personally. Consider this and maybe, soon from now, this concern will lead you to a trip somewhere in Russia or any other corner of this world. And please if you do, hit me back. I will be more than glad to listen.

Here's in the interview with Mia (@miya_simm)

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