ARKHANGELSK: "We are not alike in character. I am more creative," said Nastya (left) about her twin sister Vika. They were walking in Malye Karelya, a park on the outskirts of Arkhangelsk city filled with historical wooden architecture from Northern Russia. Nastya said she loved to write poetry and would read it to Vicka, but she didn't show strong interest. "She is far from [poetry]," said Nastya.
BISHKEK: ''My Belarus grandmother had a hard life. She went through German and Siberian camps’’ before ending up in central Asia, said Daria, 25, a Bishkek native. Her other grandmother - a Volga German - didn’t have it much easier. She was exiled to central Asia during WWII. Their children - Daria’s parents - met through their shared interest in skydiving. Having German roots, Daria now wants to move to Germany. ‘’I don’t feel like Bishkek is my home. I feel I can do more in Germany.’’ In the meantime, she would like to write her grandmother's memoirs. Albina, 21, grew up in a small village in Tajikistan, before getting accepted into the American University in Bishkek. She wants to move to Germany to pursue physics, a passion from her school days. ‘’I had a good physics teacher in high school and my parents were both into math.’'
CHITA, EASTERN SIBERIA: Irina, 22, was hanging out with her friend - also named Irina - in front of a Chita university dormitory on a weekday afternoon. Both said they were studying to become teachers. Irina, left, said she grew up in a small village situated on a hill in Chita region and from the age of seven would go skiing with her cousin. "We would pretend to compete with each other," she recalled. "That is probably why I chose physical education." Irina said she will finish her teacher studies next year, but will not pursue education because "teachers don't earn much." Instead, Irina said she will enlist in the army and that her family supports that idea, pointing out that women aren't sent into hot spots to fight. Russia has raised wages of teachers, doctors and military significantly over the past decade. But according to locals in Chita, where there are many military personnel living, the armed forces have seen a bigger increase. This, the locals say, may explain why there is a lot of housing construction at the moment in the city.