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Life Advice from Alexei Venediktov

I love my university. And not only for its curriculum, amazingly crazy teachers and diverse student body, but also because it has given me the opportunity to see awesome people working in the sphere of journalism every other Saturday of the year. Among them were the Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova (most of the time), political scientist Dmitry Kulikov, radio host Anna Shafran, Aleksandr Gurnov (Russia Today), etc. But journalist, radio personality and simply an incredible person Alexei Venediktov has to be one of the most interesting ‘lecturers’.

He was our guest today.

When he walked into the lecture hall in a ‘Hear Me Roar’ Lannister House T-shirt, I knew I was going to like the guy. And I did. He told us quite a bit of funny stories that had happened to him at work, the most memorable being an incident with Condoleezza Rice when she was interviewed by Venediktov on the Echo of Moscow and a funny question to Putin during a press-conference by a journalist from Echo of Moscow. Continue reading “Life Advice from Alexei Venediktov”

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My Love for Science

My love-hate relationship with science began when I was ten years old.

My aunt gave me an encyclopedia for my birthday and, having read it, I begged my mom for another one. I got a three-inch thick book with a dictionary to go with it, and I was happy.

Then my relationship progresses — let’s fast-forward to seventh grade.

My local school here in Russia has a wonderful physics teacher — but I realized that much, much later. In seventh grade, while studying physics laws and haunted by equations I couldn’t understand, everything that had to do with physics (including my precious encyclopedias) now embodied everything bad there was in the world.

Eighth grade — hello, chemistry.

My only solace was biology, and even in that field I didn’t have that much enthusiasm.

So, how did I get to the point where I watch PBS SpaceTime every other day?

It all started when I got a C in my term grade for chemistry. That pissed me off big time. I was by no means a straight-A student, but I’d always managed to keep my grades relatively high. So I took my textbook and spent six hours trying to figure out why this happens:

4P + 5O2 = 2P2O5

Seriously, I couldn’t get it. And that was after a year of studying chemistry.

When I finally discovered the truth, I actually taught myself to love the subject and even got an A on a chemistry exam in ninth grade. I made an effort in physics. I learned to solve simple and not-so-simple problems.

All was well. Until Voldemort came in the form of a science professor in the first semester of university.

The whole department of International Journalism first-years wondered why we had to have science when we were supposed to be doing creative work, why the professor made fun of us and downright humiliated us when we displayed complete lack of knowledge in elementary physics/chemistry/biology, and most of all why anyone would be forced to have an exam with this man when there were stories of people retaking it 16 times. That’s a bit harsh, no?

Professor Schitz’s class was first on Monday, and every Monday my fellow students would agree — Schitz happens.


I did nothing the whole semester. I’m a bad, bad student.

When it was time for the exam, I felt like a million violent chemical reactions were happening in my veins. I was worried, nervous, scared, no, terrified, and I took all useful information I could find while preparing and placed it into one Word file, which turned out to be 85 pages long. I still remember the profuse thanks of my friends when I shared it with them.

But we still felt really deep in shit.

I remember the dark corridor, the cold classroom, the sheer joy I felt when I got a question pertaining to physics and not biology (as I hadn’t studied it that well). Having written everything I know about cosmic background radiation, I awaited the verdict. Professor Schitz invited me into the room, and, after a pleasant chat about space and the creation of our universe, he asked,

“Are you satisfied with 61?” (any grade below 60 means you fail)

YES, DAMMIT, I AM! shouted my consciousness.

“Yes,” I squeaked and exited the room with a stupid grin on my face.

Only nine people passed, including me, in our group of 26 students. The rest made it through the arduous retaking process.

Shit ceased.

But then… The second semester started and first thing on Monday is now my favorite subject, History, and I… miss science. And Professor Schitz. I miss his funny way of explaining things, I miss him implying that our intellect is lower than that of a third-grader, I miss the parts of his presentation when he would interrupt his speeches about science and show us not-so-well-known-but-still-masterpieces of famous artists — and proceed to mock us for not knowing even that.

So I find myself today watching YouTube videos about physics, reading Steven Hawking and musing about the expansion rate of our Universe.

Life is weird but fun.

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Team Cap or Team Iron Man?

First of all, FINALLY I got to watch Captain America: Civil War. It was out in Russia since May 5th but the universe decided to delay my seeing it for a couple of days. Second, it’s great when you have friends willing to ditch a lecture with you and go see the movie you’ve been so eagerly waiting for, like, eternity.

Now to the review, which is just going to be me highlighting parts of the film that I found downright awesome/terrible. Although, to be fair, there was only one terrible thing about this movie.

Beware, traveler, spoilers ahead! Continue reading “Team Cap or Team Iron Man?”

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May the Fourth…

Wait, wait, wait, I need to gush a little about Star Wars before finishing this phrase.

I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I rewatched the franchise, and the only thing I can say for sure is that I’d seen the original trilogy more often than the prequel. It’s just more… inspiring for me, I guess. As is the whole saga in general.

I have several movies like these — they make me happy and help me forget my problems for a while — among them The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, some worldwide classics, the must-see-in-Russia Soviet movies. But none of them are like Star Wars, although I can’t quite determine the reason.

I’m more fond of high fantasy with dragons and wizards than I am of science fiction and space operas… but when I watch A New Hope, it truly brings new hope in my life, even when I seem to have lost it completely. When I see The Empire Strikes Back, I feel capable of battling any obstacles coming my way. Return of the Jedi is like the return of my childhood, and despite Anakin’s fall and death, regardless of all the sh*t the characters went through, the ending of the Return of the Jedi, accompanied by the heart-warming Ewok song always makes me smile — and cry.

Tears of happiness, of course.

I’ll probably be doing a separate post expressing what exactly I thought about The Force Awakens, but really, it was awesome.

It did seem to be a bit like a reflection on the past trilogies, like a setup for the plot that’s going to unfold in the next two movies. And although it’s quite different and undoubtedly new, it was a worthy instalment. In my humble opinion.

And now —