From Moscow With Love: Part Two

Leanne Striegel

Editor’s Note: Harper native, Leanne Striegel has a view of the world that most of us may never see with our own eyes. Living in Russia contrasts in several ways from the farming upbringing she experienced near Harper, but she has also learned that Russians and Americans are alike, in many ways. Leanne will share some of her experiences from the other side of the globe with us here in her home county, in an effort to help “bridge the gap” between our two cultures.


Moscow - Off to college I went, in 1992, to finally embark on this dream of learning Russian and going to Russia myself.  The fall of the Soviet Union didn’t seem to change our opinion of the Russians, so at least I could find the truth about the Russian people even if I would not experience the Soviet Union.  I took an intensive Russian class, which allowed me to take two years of Russian in one year.  I almost quit after the first semester because the other students had taken Russian in high school and were far more advanced than I was, but my teacher encouraged me by saying I was the most improved in the class even though my grade didn’t show it.  I continued on. 

            At this time, I was working as a waitress at Carlos O’Kellys.  I lived off of my tips and saved the tiny paychecks I got for my trip to Russia, which I was planning my last year of college.  I didn’t have enough money to participate in the study abroad program, so I applied for a scholarship and received enough to go to St. Petersburg in the summer of 1996.  I was so excited! 

            I immediately fell in love with St. Petersburg.  We arrived in May.  In June, they have white nights, which is a magical time where you never feel tired and you never know what time it is because the sun doesn’t really set.  St. Petersburg was a city built by Peter the Great as a window on the west.  It was said to be built on the backs of slaves because it was built on a swamp, so many slaves died and are said to be buried under the city.  St. Petersburg with its Hermitage (the Winter Palace), Peterhof (Peter the Great’s palace), St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the cathedral Savior on the Blood, Tsarskoye Selo (Catherine the Great’s palace) charmed me.  I had never seen such amazing historical works of art in the form of buildings.  In the U.S., we just destroy the old buildings and build new ones, so this was a site to see.  They were continuously renovating these old buildings.  The cathedral Savior on the Blood was closed for renovations when I was there, so I could only see the outside.  It took 70 years to renovate.  In 1998, it had finally opened.  The inside was stunning with its mosaics floor to ceiling.   


For the rest of this article, check out the February 6th issue of the Keota Eagle. For Part One of Leanne's message, check out the January 30th issue.