ST. PETERSBURG: Kazbek, sporting a big bow tie, was walking along Nevsky in St. Petersburg with his bicycle. He said he is studying to become a teacher of Russian language and literature. If his plans work out, he will represent the third generation of teachers in his family. His mother, grandmother and grandfather all taught at schools at one point. Kazbek said that when he becomes a teacher, he will wear a bow tie, but a small one. When I asked if the students will tease him, he said ‘’no, they will see me as a good example.’’ The future literature teacher said his favorite book is The Three Musketeers ''because it is about real friendship.''
Maria, 25, who is finishing her 6-year degree in graphic design in Ulyanovsk, is one of the few Russians not keen about traveling to Europe, a destination cherished for its well-perserved, historical towns.
Maria said she is rather passionate about the world of the future, which inspires her graphic designs, and chose to visit Dubai and Hong Kong, two cities known for their modern skyscrapers, on her first overseas trips…
ULYANOVSK: Emilia, a psychology student, was leaving her university that lies directly across a square from the Lenin Museum. She was dressed in all black, except for her light-colored sunglasses.
Emilia said she got into hard rock and gothic music such as Marilyn Manson at the age of 15, something that has influenced her fashion style.
Raised by her grandparents, Emilia said she has about 6 tattoos on her body. She also has two small ones – a heart and bow – on her neck, which she says are meant to symbolize a friendship of 12 years. Her friend has the same two tattoos.
Anton, 19 and a law student, attended the St. Patrick's Day parade in Moscow with his friends. About 190 cm tall, he was sporting a black leather coat, faded black jeans and black boots. Were it not for the Irish flag colors painted on his face - and Ireland t-shirt - you would think he was dressed for a rock concert. When asked why he came to the event, Anton said he liked Irish culture and added he has been taking Irish dance classes for the past three years, but admitted it isn't easy. ''I find it difficult to tap to the rhythm,'' he said.
Sofia, 20, was among the few thousand attendees at a St. Patrick's Day celebration in Moscow. She was standing near the entrance of Sokolniki Park in a green scarf, green shamrock hat and with a shamrock painted on her face. She was holding a sign that said ''free hugs.'' Sofia said she is studying English and Korean at university and has visited Korea twice. She said she wanted to take an oriental language as she already knew French well. Sofia said she comes from a family of doctors and dreams of being a medical translator of Korean-Russian and English-Russian. I asked why Sofia why she didn't follow in her father's footsteps to become a doctor if she enjoyed the medical industry so much. ''I have problems with physics and chemistry, but no one said you can't be a medical translator.''
KHABAROVSK: Tolik, 21, grabbed the taxi order that had just come across the tablet and picked me up. He said he was a university student and picked up cab orders when convenient. Tolik, who grew up in a small town of about 3,000 people outside Khabarovsk, said he would like to work in a bank. ''It is not a dirty job, you don't have to work with your hands,'' he said. ''You work in a clean office.'' While he says he is lucky to have a car - a gift from his parents - he isn't optimistic about saving up to buy an apartment anytime soon. He says it costs about 15,000 rubles to rent an apartment in Khabarovsk while a good job could pay about 30,000. Then there are everyday living expenses, barely leaving you with any savings. ''It is nearly impossible for me to save up for an apartment and there are many people in my situation,'' Evgeny said. ''If you take out a mortgage, you will probably be paying down way into old age.''