The Tran-Siberian Experience

By Lisa Pistocco, Italy

Have you always dreamed of travelling through Russia to the border of Mongolia? Seeing the most beautiful landscapes of Siberia? Discovering the Russian culture by meeting locals?
Here’s my story.

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Walking on the Baikal Lake was incredible

After my second year of applied languages, I decided to spend my last year of college in Russia. I had the opportunity to travel a lot, and moreover, to experience the Tran-Siberian Railroad.
For the ones who don’t know, let me explain to you what it is. The Tran-Siberian Railroad is a railway in Russia, extending from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific. This railway was constructed from 1891 to 1916, and is now one of the most famous railways in the world.

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Joanna and I waiting for our train in Ekaterinburg

I decided to experience it because, while I was there, I was so impressed by all that had happened in the country. I was impressed, but also curious. Curious about Russian people’s way to live, to be, and above all curious about this huge country.

Because yes; Russia is the world’s largest nation. It borders European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Artic Oceans. Russia has incredible landscapes ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. How could I not be curious? Most of you know Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in my opinion, Russia is not –or not only- Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russia is all the other things that nobody knows. Russia is humanity, culture, landscapes, and mutual aid for each other.

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Novossibirsk, Capital of Siberia

Joanna –my favourite German friend in the whole world- and I talked about taking this trip one day. “Do you want to do the Tran-Siberian?” she asked me. My answer? “Yes of course!!” and 3 weeks later we were good to go.

Of course, it wasn’t easy to plan, to collect all the information, to book the train tickets, but we had enough motivation to go through with it.

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First of all, we had to find which cities we wanted to visit, because the Tran-Siberian Railroad crosses all of Russia, and stopping in every city wasn’t possible as we had only one month to do it.
We decided where we wanted to go and our decision was to the border of Mongolia; Ulan-Ude.

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Ulan-Ude, capital city of the Republic of Buryatia

To make this trip possible, you need to be conscious of the hard weather in Russia during the time we were going to be there. Of course, if you do it during the summer time, you’ll not have that much of a problem, but we did it during the winter period, which not everybody is able to do.

Temperatures were most of the time below -4F°. The most important to think then is to buy enough warm clothes that allow you to keep you warm!

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It’s really cold in Siberia, but so much fun also

Once we bought our clothes, our train tickets, and booked all the hostels, we were good to go.
Oh, I forgot something really important to take: FOOD.

Because, of course, while you are on the train –for 14h, 21h, 37h, 73h- you need food. And in the train, it’s not really possible to eat. It depends on which train, you can have the possibility to find a restaurant wagon. If there isn’t, you need to buy some dry noodles, and food that you can eat without warming and putting in the refrigerator.

 

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34hours of train on our way to Irkutsk

 

It was one of the best experiences I ever had, I had the opportunity to meet amazing people and I made so many unforgettable memories. I can only recommend to you to take this trip, but also just to enjoy your life. Enjoy your life by meeting people, travelling, and be happy.

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15 Question Interview with an EF Student

  1. If you could drink only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

– Water.

  1. What is your biggest goal in life?

– To be happy all my life.

  1. How old do you think our substitute teacher Kevin is?

– 28.

  1. What do you think you will be doing in 20 years?

– I think I will have a good job and my own family, and hopefully be married.

  1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

– I think, in Spain.

  1. Who is the most important person to you?

– My sister.

  1. What makes you happy?

– The sun, going out with friends, my family, and eating.

  1. What makes you sad?

– If I see other people being sad or unhappy.

  1. Who is your biggest inspiration?

– My grandmother.

  1. Do you have any big regrets in life?

– My ex-boyfriend.

  1. Why did you come to Santa Barbara?

– Because I wanted to learn English in a sunny place and I heard a lot of good things  about Santa Barbara.

  1. What do you talk about to avoid awkward silence?

– Always asking the other person questions.

  1. Where is the best place to spend a Saturday night?

– In a good club.

  1. What would be the first thing you bought if you won 10 million dollars?

– A car and a house.

  1. What is important in a best friend?

– That you can always go back to the same person, knowing that she would never abandon you.

German Sites

Pascal Lange, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle:e696b0e5a4a9e9b59de5a0a1e69e97e5beb7e99c8de5a4abe5aeaee5a5a7e4bcafe998bfe6a285e788bee9ab98e5b08fe98eaee4b880e697a5e9818a

The Neuschwanstein Castle is in Neuschwanstein, Bavaria. It was finished in 1869 and inspired Walt Disney, that’s why it is sometimes called the Disney Castle.

 

Brandenburg Gate:brandenburger_tor

The Brandenburg Gate was built from 1789 to 1793. It’s a triumph gate in Berlin and the only existing city gate of 18 others.

 

Europa-Park:

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The Europa-Park is a theme park in Rust, near the French border. He’s 95 hectares large and the biggest in Germany. The Europa-Park opened on 12th June 1975 and is the second most popular theme park in Europe, after the Disneyland Paris. The ‘Golden Ticket Award’-Jury of the US magazine “Amusement Today” chose the Europa-Park in September 2017 for the fourth time in a row to the best theme park in the world.

 

Cologne Cathedral:2016-quer-IMG_0692

The Cologne Cathedral is the second tallest cathedral in Europe and third tallest in the world and since 1996 UNESCO world heritage site. The Cathedral was started in the 13th century but finished in the 19th and was from 1880 to 1884 the tallest building in the world.

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Ulm Cathedral:

The Ulm Cathedral is, with 161.53 meters, the tallest church in the world. She was built from 1377 to 1543 and wasn’t damaged at the 1944/1945 attacks on Ulm. Ulm is the city were Albert Einstein was born.

 

 

Reichstag Building:download

The Reichstag Building is in Berlin and was built from 1884 to 1894. Since 1994 the elections for the Bundespresident are in the Reichstag Building and since 1999 the German Bundestag, so the German Parliament sit in the Building.

 

Dresden Frauchenkirche:dresden-frauenkirche-1500x850

The Dresden Frauenkirche is in Dresden and was built from 1726 to 1743. She was seriously damaged from the 13th to the 14th February 1945 and on the 15th February she collapsed. From 1994 to 2005 the Church was rebuilt.

Beauty 2.0

By Natda Vongkhamchanh, Germany

 

What is beauty? That’s a question we have to ask ourselves before we start to discuss this topic. To be honest, it isn’t that easy to answer because everybody has his own imagination of beauty. Furthermore, it depends on where or in which time you live because it’s different in every country. Unfortunately, a common beauty ideal exists due to our generation of digitalization and media. We all know that being thin, tanned; having long hair, clear skin, big eyes and full lips are the accepted features of a beauty. While surfing on the internet, using different kinds of social media or just looking in some magazines, it’s remarkable how many advertisements and photos influences people in a negative way. They try to convey perfect looking women and men while using editing programs, for example Photoshop, to correct all the peoples flaws and delete everything they does not fit in the current beauty ideal. The following YouTube link will show you what is the impact of using Photoshop.

 

Even as a child we are confronted with a beauty ideal when we are playing with Barbies – a typical symbol for a perfect beauty. Little girls just look up to them and take them as an idol. Additionally, make-up plays a big role in a female society.

schonheitsideal-L-lrxkeRWomen try to hide their natural beauty behind make-up to feel accepted especially with men. What people mostly do not know is that there are also economic reasons that influence that industry. They try to encourage people to buy things to maximize their profits by convincing them that they feel more secure and more beautiful with their products. Furthermore,they manipulate us in an indirect way which we, and especially young people, do not recognize. The saddest part is that we can’t prevent it without feeling unaccepted by society. It seems like the only way we can fit in is when we fulfill the ideal.

 

FITNESS

Not only women are affected by this problem but also men who feel pressure to achieve the “perfect” athletic body which leads to the fact that a lot of men get into an obsession with fitness. In some cases, they can’t stop taking several kinds of synthetic proteins or other pills to push themselves.

 

 

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All the things I mentioned can have a negative impact on young people, especially girls who try very seriously to attain those beauty ideals. Some try with normal sports and others with  diets, but in worst case, they do not allow themselves to eat and lose fat in unnatural ways.

Bulimie

This easily leads to eating disorders or anorexia which means that these girls focus on avoiding calories by throwing up and/or excessive exercise. Their senses of themselves are distorted so they lose the relationship with reality. Furthermore, depression and self-harm can be a result of it.

 

But what to do about it? There aren’t instructions to avoid it but here is some advice which may help you. Just try to think about how advertisement really works. You have to make sure that a beauty ideal isn’t natural and only imagined. Just remember – NOBODY is perfect and that everybody is beautiful in their own way. It’s also good to remind yourself constantly about some of your own good features. Try to accept yourself the way you are and avoid comparing yourself with others because it’s in vain. Everybody looks different, so just accept yourself and love your body the way it is and you’ll find happiness.

There are some campaigns which support this viewpoint, for example the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign. They compare the typical beauty ideal with some realistic women with curves and as you can see the women on the bottom seem to be more happy than the Victoria’s Secret Models. They accept themselves and love their bodies how they are.

BEAUTY CAMPAIGN