As many of you know, this semester I am studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. (I can only assume I’ve earned a committed readership after my mom shared my Far & Away blog post with her 81 Facebook friends.) You must know, however, that everything written in that blog is propaganda; every word in my posts has been censored and revised by the capitalist pigs of Vassar College. But now, I’ve worked up the courage to break my silence and, through an intricate web of sleeper cells, was able to have a draft of this letter smuggled to the editors of the Humor & Satire section (Comrade Garcia and Comrade Cates), which I’ve written on an old box of Jell-O. All this so I can tell you, my comrades, about what it’s really like to be living in the Union of Soviet…I mean…“Russia.”
I came to this country as a foolish American. Throughout my entire schooling, I was taught about the greatness of the United States and the evils of communism. I was conditioned to treat Black Friday like the holiest day of the year and led to believe that a $5 Footlong was a “good deal.” Immediately after stepping off the plane in Leningrad, I didn’t even know how to say “hello” in Russian, but I could sense a change within me. Suddenly, all I wanted to do in the world was live out the theories of Karl Marx and eat cabbage…lots and lots of cabbage. I was soon elated to discover that I would not be spending my time frivolously in The Hermitage, revering Western standards of art and staring mindlessly at collections compiled by the awful tsars. Instead, I was told that the Vassar Semester in St. Petersburg program is really a front for the Vassar Semester on a Collectivist-Farm-Out- side-of-Leningrad program.
Thus, my time has been spent learning Russian history and language, reading essential Russian texts and digging up potatoes to satisfy the agricultural needs of the 14th Five-Year Plan of Russia. In my time here, my knowledge of Russian history and language has expanded greatly. Some of my favorite Russian phrases that I’ve learned are: “I love you” and “Dig faster, Comrade Frick! It’s nearly nightfall, and the bears will eat us if we don’t finish quickly!” More than that, though, I’ve learned a great deal of practical knowledge as well. Since I’ve been here, my bedroom has consisted of sharing a blanket with two other collectivist farm girls, Masha and Olya, in a horse stable. Every morning when I wake up and have my porridge and shot of vodka, all I can think about is how my soft American constitution is hardening. Soon I will look and act like the tough and native Soviet babushka I know I am at heart.
This semester in Russia has also taught me about the many faults of the United States, the first one being that Americans use the national flag willy-nilly. In Russia, I’ve noticed that the Russian flag is used only to denote federal buildings or historical monuments. In this way, its honor and sanctity remains intact. In the U.S., I’ve seen starts and stripes on dog collars, napkins, and thongs. I suppose nothing displays the integrity of the American state more than having some red and white stripes wedged into one’s ass.
Another defect I’ve discovered in American society is that Americans drink too much water. I realize this may seem trivial, but here me out. All Russians need to drink to survive is tea, coffee and vodka. I’ve learned that if you’re not getting enough water from these drinks alone, then you’re clearly not trying hard enough. Not only is hydration a capitalist construct, it is also a sign of weakness. In Russia, drinking water is for babies and cows. Are all Americans babies or cows? Actually…nevermind, I rescind my question. But seriously, why drink water, which tastes like nothing, when one can drink vodka, which tastes like watered down nail polish remover?!
That is just to name a few of the many flaws in American society! This doesn’t even begin to cover all the misinformation about the former Soviet Union that has been disseminated by American news outlets. In an attempt to save room and time, I’ll just list a few of the major falsities: Boris and Natasha came to America to train as Olympic ice skaters, not to go after Rocky and Bullwinkle. Lenin was not bald, he actually had a beautiful head of hair. Joseph Stalin did not cause a huge famine in Ukraine, that stuff happened all the time in Russia. Socialism is cool. Mikhail Gorbachev is literally the devil. Americans think Russians never smile. This is not true; Russians smile on occasion. The USSR did not “fall,” everyone just decided to take a little break from communism. And so on.
I shudder to think of how I will have to leave this glorious bastion of democracy in a few months. My only hope is that one day before I leave I will be able to meet Comrade Putin and shake his strong, manly hand, and the manly hand of the horse he is shirtlessly riding. Although the more I think about it, I could probably try to start the World Revolution in America when I return to Vassar in the spring. Maybe I could convince Ferry House to elect me as their autocratic ruler and together we could reinvent ourselves as a commune? And from there, we could spread our Marxist ideology onto the rest of New York, and then the rest of the country! I think I could probably make it happen, to be honest. Vassar kids would eat that shit up.