Intercultural Picnic

Today was really incredible. We were invited to a picnic on the beach in front of our dormitory by some of the friends we’ve made at our university. My American classmate and I were the first to arrive on the beach where one of the other girls was waiting for everyone. As people slowly showed up, it became clear that it was quite an international (and intercultural) gathering. There were two Americans (myself and my friend), one Russian girl (our guide), two Thai girls, two French girls, a guy and girl from Mongolia and a girl from Uzbekistan (if I remember correctly).

It was so nice to meet people from places I’d never been and talk with them about their experiences in Russia. I remember sitting there and being completely blown away by the interactions among us. We were all bound by two common languages, English and Russian, and spoke in them almost equally. One of the Thai girls had spent several years working in a French company and so she spoke French with the French girls. It was so interesting getting to know each other and sharing our cultures. We asked each other simple questions about various things we were curious about. At one point everyone decided to sing a song from their culture and in their own language to represent their country and culture. It was difficult to choose one that was appropriate and that both I and the other girl knew the words to. We also wanted to choose something unique that the others might not know. But after throwing out several suggestions we were surprised to find that they knew most of the ones we had mentioned. It was a bit of a reality check to see just how far America’s reach is and how if affects other people.

Then we cooked shaslik (шашлык) and ate a bunch of different foods: salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, kiwi fruit with salt, crisps and many other delicious things. It was surprising to me the choices of food made by everyone. It seems that people eat a lot healthier in Russia and actually enjoy eating vegetables. If I were at a picnic like this in America, I think the quality of the food would have been much lower and not as healthy. Plus cucumbers and tomatoes seem to be a staple when gathering and eating. I wonder if it’s a typically Russian thing or if there’s something more to it…

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