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#363781 - 03/31/07 05:36 PM I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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PassionatePianist Offline
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Hi everyone. I will be studying at the Moscow State Conservatory of Music this Fall as an exchange student. I've been trying to find out as much as I can about life in Moscow to make my 4 month stay easier.

I've never been to Russia and I'm wondering if anyone here has some good advice to give to me. Any helpful tips/pointers would be greatly appreciated. I want to be as prepared as possible so that the culture shock isn't a complete scare for me!

If anyone on this board has ever studied or stayed at this Conservatory, please share your experience. Thanks in advance.


"Simplicity is the final achievement." - Chopin
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#363782 - 03/31/07 05:59 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Somewhere
Quote
Originally posted by PassionatePianist:
Hi everyone. I will be studying at the Moscow State Conservatory of Music this Fall as an exchange student. I've been trying to find out as much as I can about life in Moscow to make my 4 month stay easier.

I've never been to Russia and I'm wondering if anyone here has some good advice to give to me. Any helpful tips/pointers would be greatly appreciated. I want to be as prepared as possible so that the culture shock isn't a complete scare for me!

If anyone on this board has ever studied or stayed at this Conservatory, please share your experience. Thanks in advance.
Sounds wonderful! thumb


Not all who wander are lost...
#363783 - 03/31/07 07:02 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Good luck! This conservatory graduated many masters.

#363784 - 03/31/07 07:22 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Quote
Originally posted by Bassio:
Good luck! This conservatory graduated many masters.
But don't let them turn you into a commie at the same time! laugh


Not all who wander are lost...
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#363785 - 03/31/07 07:37 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Hi passionatepianist!

Congratulations on your trip to Moscow! I've been a couple of times, enough to form brief impressions rather than enough to say I know a lot about it but, for what it's worth, here are some thoughts.

The people are amazingly friendly! I was there on business and the people I was meeting with did things that were so kind and thoughtful it was really touching. Yes, they wanted to make a good impression for business reasons but they went well beyond that. Also, the people on the street were generally very friendly. I don't think they see a whole lot of tourists so they've not become tired of being overrun and will go out of their way to give directions - I had someone walk 5 blocks out of their way to show me where something was!

Much of the city is really run down. Think Stalin era concrete and steel that hasn't aged well. It's one of the few places in the world where I truly wondered whether an elevator would get me to the next floor. Parts of the city are newer, primarily business/tourist areas but much of the rest is pretty old.

They really want hard currency (dollars). Waiters don't want a tip on a credit card, they'd rather have much less in cash.

In spite of the friendliness, I was always a little uneasy. I expect a lot of this is cold war baggage I carried with me but nevertheless...

The cultural opportunities in the city are amazing! The museums, the Bolshoi & Kirov, etc. I got to see Prokofiev's "For love of three oranges" and it was wonderful. The theater was threadbare (you could still see the hammer and sickle embroidered in the stage curtain) but it was packed, standing room only, and this was on a weeknight.

The muscovites love their vodka! Here are some facts: a population of 10 million drinks more than 20 million bottles per year. When you consider women don't drink vodka as much (usually wine) and the percentage that are children that's pretty high per capita consumption. Seeing people drunk on the street in the evenings is not uncommon.

Corruption is pretty rampant. I met with Putin's minister of trade and he asked me for a bribe (a "consideration") in a room full of people through a translator.

The last time I was there was in 2000 so it's possible that things have changed since then though, being Russia, I doubt it.

Hope this helps and good luck!


Greg
#363786 - 03/31/07 08:01 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Hayley Rae Offline
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Somewhere
Quote
Originally posted by C7 Player:
Hi passionatepianist!

Congratulations on your trip to Moscow! I've been a couple of times, enough to form brief impressions rather than enough to say I know a lot about it but, for what it's worth, here are some thoughts.

The people are amazingly friendly! I was there on business and the people I was meeting with did things that were so kind and thoughtful it was really touching. Yes, they wanted to make a good impression for business reasons but they went well beyond that. Also, the people on the street were generally very friendly. I don't think they see a whole lot of tourists so they've not become tired of being overrun and will go out of their way to give directions - I had someone walk 5 blocks out of their way to show me where something was!

Much of the city is really run down. Think Stalin era concrete and steel that hasn't aged well. It's one of the few places in the world where I truly wondered whether an elevator would get me to the next floor. Parts of the city are newer, primarily business/tourist areas but much of the rest is pretty old.

They really want hard currency (dollars). Waiters don't want a tip on a credit card, they'd rather have much less in cash.

In spite of the friendliness, I was always a little uneasy. I expect a lot of this is cold war baggage I carried with me but nevertheless...

The cultural opportunities in the city are amazing! The museums, the Bolshoi & Kirov, etc. I got to see Prokofiev's "For love of three oranges" and it was wonderful. The theater was threadbare (you could still see the hammer and sickle embroidered in the stage curtain) but it was packed, standing room only, and this was on a weeknight.

The muscovites love their vodka! Here are some facts: a population of 10 million drinks more than 20 million bottles per year. When you consider women don't drink vodka as much (usually wine) and the percentage that are children that's pretty high per capita consumption. Seeing people drunk on the street in the evenings is not uncommon.

Corruption is pretty rampant. I met with Putin's minister of trade and he asked me for a bribe (a "consideration") in a room full of people through a translator.

The last time I was there was in 2000 so it's possible that things have changed since then though, being Russia, I doubt it.

Hope this helps and good luck!
Very interesting delineation of the city.


Not all who wander are lost...
#363787 - 03/31/07 09:13 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Quote
Originally posted by Hayley Rae:
But don't let them turn you into a commie at the same time! laugh
Haha very naive thinking there, Hayley wink

#363788 - 03/31/07 09:18 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Congratulations Passionate:

I envy you. Make the most of your time there and post now and then.


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#363789 - 03/31/07 09:29 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Quote
Originally posted by C7 Player:
Corruption is pretty rampant.
And that is not true of Washington DC? What else besides Big Business and their attendant lobbies set policy? You don't seriously think the voters have any influence there, do you?

Sorry. That touched a nerve.


Jason
#363790 - 03/31/07 09:38 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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There is a difference between nations that have a functioning and independent judiciary and nations that don't. Despite the federal prosecutor flap, ours is still in the former category. Contract law still means something here and basic property rights are enforced. The closest analogy for Russia is Chicago in the twenties except that one of the gangs is the government.

Back on topic, I wonder what pianos are most common at the MSU conservatory. Belarus and older Estonias maybe? or have they been able to spring for better makes?

#363791 - 03/31/07 10:06 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Quote
Originally posted by Piano*Dad:
There is a difference between nations that have a functioning and independent judiciary...
Independent of what? The US election of 2000 would seem to indicate otherwise.

But what the heck, let's just drop it. This is not a political forum, so back on topic my friends... wink


Jason
#363792 - 04/01/07 12:51 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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I really don't know anything about Russia, but good luck in school there! Don't get homesick :p

Edward


www.solopianoradio.com
^^Great website, all the solo piano you need, hosted by David Nevue^^
#363793 - 04/01/07 12:52 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Solo Piano Offline
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Edit: Oops, posted twice frown


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^^Great website, all the solo piano you need, hosted by David Nevue^^
#363794 - 04/01/07 09:05 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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#363795 - 04/01/07 09:28 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Congratulations, PassionatePianist, I'm sure it will be a unique and very rewarding experience!

I will go to visit my girlfriend, who is currently spending five months in Nizhnij Novgorod for an exchange semester, and I'll be visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg as well (packed schedule for 14 days, I know...)

From what my girlfriend told me (she has been to Moscow for close to five weeks in September 2005), she percieved the Moscovites to be rather unfriendly, in contrast to what C7player said... they have some sort of "I don't know you, I'll probably never see you again, so what reason do I have to be friendly?" attitude.

But she also said that once you get to know them even just a little bit, they are the most friendly and forthcoming people one may encounter. But I find that this unfriendly attitude is quite common among people from a country's capital (think Romans, Viennese to some extent...).

I will of course offer some first- hand impressions when I come back in mid- May. Maybe I'll get to post in an internet cafè, but given the fact that I'll be spending less than one week in each of the two cities, don't count on that.

What my GF told me, however, was to not expect clean bathrooms and generally good hygienic conditions if you are not staying in a 4+ star hotel. So we are going to stay in a student's hostel... I'm still not all that convinced, but she said that a three- star accomodation is no better, so I'll just believe her.


Proud owner of an August Förster 190 Serial No. 164163
#363796 - 04/01/07 11:56 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Wow, that's amazing! I've never been in Russia before, my teacher teached at the Moscow conservatory years ago. I just started learning Russian language, because their country and history fascinates me. I want to go there sometime in the future.
Do you speak Russian?

Have a great time, enjoy great music, meet new people. Good Luck!

#363797 - 04/01/07 02:07 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Independant judiciary? Doesn't the president appoint the supreme court justices?

#363798 - 04/01/07 02:17 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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This sounds very exciting! Best wishes to you for a productive experience.

Could you elaborate more on why you wish to go?

What are your GOALS, short term, as well as long?

Why did you choose The Moscow Conservatory?

Do you have scholarships there?

What is your past experience?

LL


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
#363799 - 04/01/07 05:53 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Your best bet is to hook-up with some locals in advance that can introduce you to specifics of Moscow life.

The important question is whether the exchange program covers accommodations. Visiting Moscow tourist style can be very expensive proposition. If you are on your own your best bet is to rent a small apartment in a reasonably safe place and within a short walking distance to a metro (Moscow underground train) station and be prepared to cook your food (most restaurants are very pricey).

For bars / restaurants recommendations the russian newsleter exile (www.exile.ru) publishes great nightlife guide. It is sort of an alternative ultra-right/left paper so you may need to filter stuff that you read there but I found their articles on food / nightlife very accurate.

Dealing with local law enforcement guys is something of an art not easily grasped by newbees. Bribery is common *but* it only works if you follow exactly the rules of engagement (correct language, no witnesses etc.) If you miss a single rule you may get in trouble.

The second negative is car exhaust smell that is a prevalent throughout the city even when there is no smog so be prepared if you have allergies astma.

Other than these issues you may really enjoy Moscow cultural life. The city changed a lot in recent years (both in good and bad ways). Being a major hub of petrodollar flow it shows probably more than any other place the contrast between poor and rich.

As far as tips rubles are no worse then dollars now (in fact ruble is strengthening with respect to dollar recently).

#363800 - 04/02/07 05:58 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Phlebas Offline
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New York City
Quote
Originally posted by NikolaTesla:
Independant judiciary? Doesn't the president appoint the supreme court justices?
(Sorry for the off topic)

Yes, but...

1) They are a separate branch of government - not under the executive branch.

2) They serve for life, so...

3) ...the sitting president does not appoint the entire supreme court, only when a judge retires.


(Back to topic)

Congrats on the Moscow trip.

#363801 - 04/02/07 10:20 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Eternal Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by argerichfan:
Quote
Originally posted by C7 Player:
Corruption is pretty rampant.
And that is not true of Washington DC? What else besides Big Business and their attendant lobbies set policy? You don't seriously think the voters have any influence there, do you?

Sorry. That touched a nerve.
Might have touched a nerve, but is true nontheless. Check this ranking of corruption:
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781359.html

According to that USA is on 22nd place, while Russia is all the way down on 127th! Right next to countries like Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Besides I consider bussiness lobbysts a necessary evil - they provide a counter-balance to populists.

This is still on topic. You will find corruption a commonplace thing in Russia, especially when dealing with public sector. I actually had to pay a bribe in order to get a ticket at the station, and the train was almost empty. And that's with my Russian not being half bad. It won't hurt you if you have a few dollars always handy for emergencies.

Also, for your own sake I hope you're White (as demonstrated by this and many other articles).

#363802 - 04/02/07 10:54 AM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Eternal:
According to that USA is on 22nd place,

And Switzerland is right up there in 7th place. So it would seem that Swiss governement officials are more successful than US ones when it comes to bribing survey organisations wink .

-Michael B.


There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.
#363803 - 04/03/07 05:15 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Congratulations, PassionatePianist. It should be great!
Moscow Conservatory is a huge institution. There are lost of students and lots of teachers. Unfortunately, the greatest teachers have all gone (I mean there are dead). :t: Still you will get a lot of good advice during your term. cool
Moscow is a huge city and life is spinning around. There are always lots of concerts, exhibitions all year around. You should have lots of fun! laugh
Be careful though in the streets. I do not think that corruption will have any relevance to you but there are also lots of criminals down there. Try to keep lower profile. Do not advertise you are a foreigner. It could save you from some nasty experiences. I am pretty sure your mentors will instruct you on this one. f
You will most likely stay at the dormitory. It is a long five story building not too far from the Conservatory (about 15-20 minutes by bus). The living quarters are on 3, 4 and 5th floors. The most of the rooms are of the double occupancy. There is an upright piano in each room, but I would not recommend you to practice at your room. There are about fifty practice rooms with grand pianos in the basement. There are a few old Steinways, but the majority of pianos are European – Bechstein, Blutner, Forster, Petrof, etc. :p The pianos are not new but well maintained. Some students start practicing from 6:00 AM. But they have to leave for the lessons, so some of the practice rooms are empty during the day. The practice rooms are open until 11:00 PM. :rolleyes:
There is a cafeteria on the first floor of the dormitory. Students can cook at the kitchens. There are a few of them on each floor. The students are usually very friendly. But you should know – some of them drink and could try to get you involved! Be careful with vodka! smokin
You will probably have a buddy or mentor who will help you with all your needs.
I hope this will help. Have fun! smile

#363804 - 04/03/07 05:21 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Eternal Offline
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Watch out for KGB! wink

#363805 - 04/03/07 07:23 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Quote
Originally posted by Eternal:
Watch out for KGB! wink
Then come back home and watch out for the (US) IRS. Aside from Washington DC, the most powerful terrorist organization on the planet. Stateside friends tell me that if they ever sell stocks, the IRS automatically considers that full income. It is up to the poor individual to prove otherwise. Unless they're rich of course... wink


Jason
#363806 - 04/03/07 10:27 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Congratulations.....THATS SO SO GREAT!

Have a really nice time there ^^

#363807 - 04/05/07 12:58 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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I want to thank you all for your support. I will surely have a great time while I'm there. My ultimate dream would be to perform in Rachmaninoff Hall!

A friend of mine was telling me about his experience at Moscow last year. He said that I'd mostly love 3 things there: the music, the vodka, and the women!


"Simplicity is the final achievement." - Chopin
#363808 - 04/05/07 03:03 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Quote
Originally posted by argerichfan:
Stateside friends tell me that if they ever sell stocks, the IRS automatically considers that full income. It is up to the poor individual to prove otherwise. Unless they're rich of course... wink
well, maybe you should get better stateside friends. Instead of ones that are so radically opposed to their own country. If these people despise their own country so much, then why are they staying there?

I get confused with things like this? confused


well I'm 20 years old, and I'm teaching myself piano.
#363809 - 01/28/08 10:00 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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I'm back!! What an experience it was!! This was definitely a life changing experience. I don't even know where to begin..it was a completely different world...and I loved it! I studied with Alexander Mndoyants, who was a prize winner in the 1977? Cliburn Competition. I worked very hard and accomplished a lot with him. I also had a performance in Rachmaninoff Hall! I performed Rachmaninoff preludes in B flat Major and G sharp minor. I have small clips of the performance so I'll try to get them up soon.


"Simplicity is the final achievement." - Chopin
#363810 - 01/28/08 10:14 PM Re: I'm going to Moscow!...edit....I'm back!!  
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Loki Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by vladn:
Your best bet is to hook-up with some locals in advance

Well, he is named passionate pianist for a reason, you know...

2hearts 2hearts


Houston, Texas
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