Long time no talk! I’ve just returned from a 2 week whirlwind trip around Russia with my boyfriend and am settling back into normal life back home. I have a slight case of the post-vacation blues, but hopefully writing about my trip and sharing some pictures and outfits will help a bit. On the bright side I’ve really missed driving my car, not paying for water or ketchup, and not getting stared at constantly.
Before I keep going I should warn you that you’re in for a very long and probably very sentimental post. I’ll do my best not to sound sickeningly sappy the whole time and will find a way to insert outfit info throughout. Some of the pieces I’m wearing are old or no longer in stock, but I’ll try to link everything that’s available.
I’ve been lucky to my fair share of traveling over the last few years with my mom, my ever-trusty travel partner. This trip was different for me since it was my first time traveling with my boyfriend and the choice of location held a bit more significance. I guess we should start from the beginning:
Senior year of high school – geology lab. Random class I decided to take to fulfill a requirement, plus I heard the teacher was fun and it was an easy A. It wasn’t going too hot, though, since I had no friends in the class and always had the most awkward time finding a lab partner. Luckily, the second week of class, some guy I’d never talked to joined late making the class even-numbered and was roped into being my partner. I remember thinking he had a pretty cool, subtle Russian accent. If only I had known then, at sixteen, that years later I’d be riding the Moscow metro speaking in Russian with that same guy.
After getting to know my boyfriend Dan and his family, I eventually saw that his heritage was a big part of who he was. Most people I know with non-American heritage are first generation immigrants like me. Dan actually lived in Russia till he was fourteen and technically is an immigrant himself. I got to try lots of Russian food and hear Russian being spoken around his house and even picked up a few phrases along the way. It was always interesting to me, but I wasn’t inspired to personally dive into his culture until I met his grandparents.
Some summers Dan would go back to Russia to visit friends and family, however, one year his grandparents came to Michigan to stay for a while. I was so excited to meet them, but the fact that they spoke no English and I spoke no Russian made it pretty tough to get to know each other. I remember feeling left out as everyone around me spoke in a language I didn’t understand, but accepted that of course they had no obligation to switch to English just because I was around. His grandparents were so sweet and would sometimes just speak Russian to me while smiling, as if I understood. I basically decided on the spot that some day I would be able to hold a conversation with them.
Coat: Selected Femme Suede aviator jacket (most sizes sold out), similar
Top: K-Swiss sweater
Bottom: lululemon All the Right Places leggings
Shoes: Rebecca Minkoff Sabeen bootie
Bag: Givenchy Pandora mini – in red at SSense, *in black at Fashionphile, *in yellow at Fashionphile
After my sophomore year of college I spent the summer taking intensive Russian courses and continued to take language classes for the rest of college. When Dan’s grandma came that summer I was thrilled that I could at least talk to her about the weather and compliment her on her food – slowly but surely making progress. By the end of college I could tell his grandparents mostly anything that I was thinking and could understand about 85% of what they’d answer. Something I’ve learned throughout this process is that if you want anything badly enough, you’ll get there and you’ll probably get there impressively fast if you put in the work. Now if only I could convince myself that I really truly want to ace biochem and physiology, medical school would be a breeze.
I’ve been dying to go to Russia for years, but between college, medical school applications, and high security for the 2018 World Cup the timing never worked out. You know how in all the history books there’s multiple examples of why you should never invade Russia in the winter? Well I got stuck doing exactly that since my “summer break” for medical school was 4 random weeks at the end of March. Lovely. Still, I’m not complaining at all since the trip was a complete dream for me. Paris might be the city of love, but there’s nothing more romantic than wandering around with the man you love in the places he grew up, speaking the language you learned in honor of his family.
Coat: Orolay coat via Amazon (this is a size XXS for reference)
Top: asos striped sweater (old season)
Bottom: lululemon All the Right Places leggings
Shoes: Ugg leather knee high boots (old season)
Bag: Louis Vuitton Montsouris MM backpack – *at Fashionphile, *at Fashionphile
Scarf: Alexander McQueen Skull print scarf
Arriving in Moscow was a complete culture shock. I wasn’t aware of how sprawlingly large the city is and how different parts of it can be. There are historic streets and churches with glassy skyscrapers in the distance. Unassuming metro entrances lead down to stations that look like they belong in museums. I also wasn’t prepared for all the stares – I guess I stood out as I’m the exact opposite of the fair-skinned, light-haired, blue-eyed locals. I also have bright purple hair and was wearing my bulky DSLR camera and bought one of those huge furry hats on my first day there, so there’s that too.
Between touring sights in the mornings and visiting old friends in the evenings, everything felt like a blur. An amazing blur, though. There was something so surreal about finally walking around the places I’d heard about in the stories Dan had told me about his childhood or his summer days with friends. If I look tired in any of the pictures it’s because I was dying of jetlag and from walking 10 miles a day in 4 inch heels (because I am stubborn and because fashion).
Despite its sometimes strange mix of old and new, old soviet architecture vs. shiny and sleek buildings, Moscow feels quintessentially Russian. St. Petersburg, on the other hand, has the feel of an old European city. The streets reminded me of somewhere in Italy or France, albeit a little more colorful with its rainbow of pastel facades. I also couldn’t get over the fashion – all the young people there looked like they truly had their own taste and I saw some really cool, casually styled outfits. All the street style vibes.
The last place we visited was Omsk, the city in Siberia where Dan was born. After almost 2 weeks of nonstop tours and catching flights it was amazing to just spend time with his grandparents, eat lots of food, and go shopping (always my personal favorite). As we spent time chatting over meals, I thought back to how my first interactions with Dan’s grandparents had mostly been silent smiles, polite nods, and whatever Dan could translate between us. It sounds painfully sappy, but I can’t even describe how much joy it brought me to be able to talk to them and get to know them as people now that we could have full conversations. Not only was I happy to truly get to know all the friends and family in Dan’s life, but I’ll always be grateful that they inspired me to learn more about a culture I might never have explored otherwise.
All in all, this trip was a dream. It was incredibly cool to be speaking mostly Russian for two weeks and to immerse myself in the country’s sights, food, and people. Getting to spend quality time with my boyfriend after my crazy busy first year of medical school was amazing and we actually managed to not kill each other despite being together 24/7. I’ve always believed in that cliche that life works in mysterious ways, but still I never would have guessed that I’d make Russia my adopted motherland. Life is strange and I’m thankful for every twist and turn in mine that’s led me to where I’m at right now.
If you’re somehow still reading at the end of this sentimental essay-length post, thanks for sticking around! Hopefully it was interesting to you and the outfit info isn’t too hard to navigate. I especially loved all the coats that I brought on this trip, so I might do some more in-depth posts later on. I’m trying to take advantage of the painfully short 2 weeks left in my break so keep an eye out for more content coming your way!
*this post contains affiliate links