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.''
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.
Roman, a barista at a Minsk coffee shop, had a lighthouse tattooed on his neck. He said "a lighthouse is a symbol of hope to sailors" and for him it is a reminder to see hope around him 'and not to despair.' He said he studied medicine and then worked in physical therapy, but didn't stick with it as the pay was so low. I asked if he made more as a barista. He said as much as double.