Ksenia and Danil, 14, were walking along the frozen Volga in Samara around sunset time on Woman's Day. Danil had given her five tulips, red and yellow, but Ksenia left them at a cafe fearing they would freeze if she took them on their Volga River walk. Both teenagers study English 6 times a week at an advanced high school and both have studied English abroad, Ksenia having spent 3 weeks in upstate New York. Danil would like to be a chemist while Ksenia said she would like to become an engineer. When I asked them what is lacking in Samara, they were quick to answer: ''We want a Starbucks in the middle of the city,'' said Danil. ''It is the best coffee in the world,'' chimed in Ksenia. Starbucks is in fact opening at the moment their first store in Samara, but it is located at the airport, a good 30 minutes from the center of town.
Elena and Mikhail, who will celebrate their 45th anniversary this year, were walking along the Volga riverside in Samara on a sunny Woman's Day. Elena said she was a professor at the local medical university, teaching latin, and wanted to converse in English. She said she has been working at the university for 40 years. Both her children studied at the university and now her granddaughter studies there. ''I recommended to my family to study there,'' she said. Her daughter is a nurse, her son works for a pharmaceutical company and her granddaughter is studying to become a pediatrician, she said. Elena said her and her husband continue to work despite reaching retirement age in order to stay active.