It was one of my childhood dreams to visit Russia some day. Taught by my father, I learned Russian at the age of six, even before I learned to read my native language, Chinese. I still remember the sentence in my textbook: ``Savietskiy sayuts velikaya st-rana" (The Soviet Union is a great country). Indeed, at that time it was still a superpower and was much more modernized than China.
During the first half month of October, invited by the Moscow State University MSU), I paid a visit to MSU and gave a short course there in Survival Analysis. The course was part of my graduate level course I gave in Binghamton University and most students in the class were undergraduate students. I was pleased that they were concentrating and were following. Indeed, from time to time, they asked questions. I said to myself:``the students from the MSU are indeed excellent". I enjoyed teaching such students.
It was Fall and it was rainy and cloudy almost everyday during my visit. However, it was also colorful and beautiful outside. Over weekends, guided by Professors Gnedenko and Bulinskaya, or Vladumirobich, a graduate student of the MSU, or Ms. Olga in the Russian and the U.S. center of the State University of New York, I went sightseeing in Moscow. I toured Kremlin, Hovodevichiy Monastery, The Russian State Exhibition Center, downtown and Moscow River. In addition, main building of the MSU is a magnificent piece of architecture. It locates inside a Botanical Garden and on top of Lenin's Hill, where you have a wonderful overlook of Moscow.
One enjoyment of my visit was to watch ballet ``Swan Lake" in Moscow, though not in Bolyshoi theater. I had not watched it before, except some pieces of the performance. It lasted for three hours and it was really beautiful !
When we went sightseeing, we used the subway and buses. The subway system in Moscow is really excellent. It basically reaches every corner of downtown and it hardly takes much time for waiting for the next train and the cost is negligible, about 15 cents one way. Moreover, many subway stations are also art exhibition halls.
Before I went to Russia, I was told that it not quite safe in Moscow, so in the first few days during my visit, I only walked around the university. When I knew more about Moscow, I found out that it was actually very safe. I went out shopping in streets at night alone. I walked around in free markets and super markets. It seems that there are plenty of supplies, and you can find almost everything that you would find in the super markets back in the States. The price is comparable to the the price in the States, or a little bit cheaper for food.