Young American tells what it's like to live in Moscow

I am 12 years old and have lived in Moscow for four years. I remember back in 1976 when my brother, sister and I were informed we were going to live in Moscow, there were tears and tantrums. No one wanted to leave our nice home and school in Massachusetts and start a new life in Moscow.

But the funny thing is, now that we are leaving Moscow, not one member of the family is really anxious to go. We have had a fantastic time here and although some things have had their drawbacks, I've really enjoyed every minute of my stay. I didn't think there would be so much to do.

For instance, when we lived in the United States, I only played the piano and did a little bit of gymnastics. I couldn't find anything else that really interested me. Then in Moscow I found lots of things. I took gymnastics, ballet, drama, piano, guitar, and singing, and also kept pets. I thoroughly enjoyed such activities and found Russian training excellent for them all.

I attended the Anglo-American School in Moscow. I loved it there. In just my sixth grade class of 25 students, there were 15 different nationalities.

Our apartment building is quiet large. Our flat is of medium size. It's on the second floor, right next to the New York Times office. The building itself is on the main ring road, Sadovo Samotechnaya. It is really more like a dormitory because we are all such friends. We leave our keys in our front doors and sometimes we even leave the doors open because we are always going to see someone.

My father's office is one floor above us. The Reuters news agency is on one side of his office and the CBS correspondent, his wife, their baby daughter, and their two cats, Daphne and Oliver, live on the other. Directly below us are the London Daily Telegraph man, his wife, and their two cats and a rabbit.

Outside, we have a large concrete courtyard which is divided into half by a long iron bar about two feet from the ground. One half is a playground consisting of two merry- go-rounds, a four-seater swing, and four benches. All are painted in bright colors. It's a great contrast to the other half -- a dull , gray parking lot.

In our compound live people from America, Britain, Japan, India, Yugoslavia, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Greece, and France. Ther are many children, and we are all friends. We converse mainly in Russian. Sometimes we teach each other bits of our native languages.

Moscow has a special food store for foreigners called the Gastronom. It imports a lot of food from Bulgaria and Poland, but some is Russian. It is a dreary place. The carrots are not washed. The tiles on the wall are old. Sugar and flour are sold in plain brown bags.

If something sees something we rarely have, such as bananas, strawberries, or most other fruits, he buys a lot of it and takes it home to his friends because there's a great chance it won't be seen again for a while. I can't really say I enjoy most of the food, but there are some good things -- white bread and dark brown bread, and cheese. I have got used to the food now, and all of us have learned to appreciate good food. In the United States we took everything for granted, buth when we moved to Moscow, we discovered that food is really something to appreciated when you don't have much of it that's good.

On the whole, the four years in Moscow have been great. I will look back on them as an experience I will never forgeT.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.