After a very rough and exhausting 24 hours of travel, we arrived at the Moscow airport around 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. My first glimpse from the plane window of some extremely tall silver birch trees and grass the darkest green I have ever seen sent my heart spiraling inside itself with excitement. Granted, the airport is quite a distance from the city, but the fantastical adventure of my imagination had already begun. In my head I was seeing Levin and Kitty’s estate (“Anna Karenina”), the lake behind the house in Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” and the country forests that give Turgenev’s play “A Month in the Country” new meaning. Russia is beautiful.

moscow1.jpgWe then proceeded to sit in traffic for several hours as some occasion or other blocked up the city to an extreme standstill. Probably the worst traffic I have ever experienced. Not quite so beautiful, but we did eventually arrive, which was more than enough at the end of the day. Our long day’s journey had turned into night/early morning already and slap-happy is not potent enough of a word to describe our state when we finally entered the building and got our keys.

The boys unloaded the bus. (Here, men are expected to carry/lift all heavy objects, because if women do, the effort will supposedly damage their ability to have children… And of course we ladies must be able to make babies, so… men do all of the heavy work, even carrying chairs in classes. Feminists would have much to get used to.)

The girls got things moved into the rooms, which are quite lovely and are complemented with bed linens and towels that are cooler, more colorful, and more geometric than I could have imagined. The rooms are small but nice, and everyone is together. We are already becoming a family, and the added challenge of sharing two showers and two toilets per 15 people is teaching us to be an even better ensemble.

The Moscow Art Theater and its collection of buildings is on the corner of Tverskaya Ulitsa and Kamergerskiy Pereulok, about a five-minute walk from Red Square. The American studio where we have most of our classes is on the fifth floor of one of the buildings, which thus requires either much marble-stair-walking past the photos of some of the most beautiful and famous actors, directors, theater personalities, etc. or a quick elevator ride to the fourth floor and a slight jaunt up the last few steps.

Either way, combined with the amount of walking involved in living in this city, I am slowly building my very own strong Russian quads. If I come back in the best shape of my life, it will be not only be due to my classes but also to the very nature of transportation here in Moscow: my feet.