I wish to thank those who wrote interesting and kind comments, sent me private messages and provided further insight into your country. I tried to respond to all of you and want to maintain an open dialogue with readers. I gladly accept criticism of America and Americans from those who have traveled to my country as I also am curious of foreigners' perceptions of my homeland. However, some of the biggest trolls infecting the comment thread have never set foot in America, simply pulling photos of Detroit and abandoned houses from the Internet and judging Americans and our culture based on what their government controlled media tells them. Such opinions I don't respect or value. Some people asked me why I didn't ban these people. The answer is that I'm a huge advocate of free expression. It's a core American principle and exercised at all levels in American society as we actively protest, criticize, speak and write about politics, the President and other domestic and international affairs in our country. Please note that sexual comments will not be tolerated as this blog isn't about who I'm dating, sleeping with or other related matters. These comments I automatically deleted and will continue to do so.
Lastly, I just want to clarify one point. Over and over again people commented that my views of Russia were a result of my host. I'm not some naive 20 year old woman who cannot think on my own. In fact, I'm almost double that age. My impressions are my own and not what Sasha was putting in my ear. He offered to take me to Pushkin and other museums but they are of no interest to me because I wanted to know how REAL Russians live. You cannot understand this by visiting fancy museums or watching a grand performance of the Bolshoi Ballet. I've traveled a lot through Europe and have visited tons of art museums, cathedrals and typical tourist sites. They bore me now and I'm only concerned with understanding the way average people live in other parts of the world. Before the trip and when we traveled together in the States, I continually told him I would come to Russia and point out good things about the country to him. So the accusations that I went to Russia looking to confirm stereotypes are totally inaccurate. I saw good in your country, but I also saw a lot of bad and this is what I discussed in my first post. Many of you failed to recognize that I also mentioned some things I like about Russia in the text, maybe you became so enraged by the negative that it simply escaped your memory. And so many comments implying that I think America is perfect without problems. I never said or implied this. My post was about Russia not America.
I hope to publish my second Russian post next weekend. In the meantime, I wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day! This is a big party day in the U.S., with many bars opening at 6 a.m. We have lots of parades, drink green beer and many (like me) wear funny hats and pretend to be a leprechaun for a day. Maybe my "fake American smile" will nauseate some of you. But it's genuine as I'm usually a cheerful person.
The city of Chicago even dyes its main river green every year to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. ©10Best
And how do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Russia??