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Must Read: Seeing 2 Sides of Russia at Moscow State University (MSU)

First stop today was the Moscow State University, home to 40 000 students and the famed Stalin tower. It was a polarizing visit.


Moscow State University (MSU) uses over 600 buildings including one sky-scraper on Lenin Hills. The current campus was built in 1953 which prior was located near Red Square. One year tuition is about ~$8 000 USD. The MSU website touts “more than 40 000 undergraduates and about 7 000 postgraduates study at the university, and over 5 000 specialists” take refresher courses. Comparatively, USF has just shy of 40 000 undergraduate students and FSU has about 30 000.
Neither the University of South Florida (USF) or Florida St University (FSU) have the centuries of history that MSU (Established in 1755) holds. Neither have a Stalin built sky-scraper, or anything near.
The main building is one of Stalin’s seven sisters (and the largest of all seven). When built it was one of the most impressive and tallest buildings in Europe. Inside you find 36 floors, 236 meters high in total, and 5000 rooms spanning four huge wings.
I walked to the University from the south with eyes fixed on the sky-scraper. It is majestic. Impressive. A sign of power. To the west, you walk back, away, wanting to gaze upon the full structure. There are fountains and monuments surrounding you. But then you take your eyes off the tower and you see it. You see the trash (beer bottles anywhere and everywhere), graffiti, and general run-down nature of the area including walkways and landscaping. (I encourage you to look at the Google Map Mashup and view University/MSU: Stalin built tower) Right about then a tour bus pulled up along the main road. That view is spectacular. You can see the main tower, main wings, impressive staircase, gold faced clocks, etc. I’m sure the tourists oohed and ahed as they snapped their digital photos. Then all of them got back onto the bus and left. They saw just one side of MSU.
View the slideshow
The other side is this. A few people roller-blading. Some guys were playing [European] football. Others were shooting hoops. A couple were running track.
Describing the athletic field/court conditions is really tough. I recommend you view the pictures even though they do not tell the full picture. In America we would describe the fields as unplayable. No University, let alone youth team, or probably even pick-up game, would play on conditions like these. The football field was dirt mixed with overgrown weeds. Goalposts were without nets and just old poles stuck in the ground. The basketball court was torn up concrete mixed with overgrown weeds. The track had newer blacktop but overgrown everything else. Remember, this is at the University level where 40 000 students at ~$8 000 per student attend! As a baseball umpire we must make sure field conditions are suitable and safe for play. I would not render any of these conditions as safe or playable. But, you know, they were being used happily and in Moscow they might be some of the better fields.
Best way to say it is that MSU is polarizing. There is the side most tourists see (and the photos they place on their website). But walk around. View the grounds as they are being used. You will quickly see that Russian’s accept a whole lot less than Americans. What we would consider deplorable they use, enjoy and appreciate.
We have so much to be thankful for.
To get there: From metro Universitet (red line), cross the road to the block that has a long fence lined with trees behind it. Walk along the fence on either side until you come to an entrance. Once in the campus grounds you’ll be able to see part of the main building, so just keep walking towards it.

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Learn Russian before you come
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VDNKh Park, TV Tower

2 Comments

  • 11 July 2007 at 19:38
    loren bell

    So when u buying my plane ticket to go up there?

  • 12 July 2007 at 14:59
    Justin

    Hi Loren. That’s why you have a JOB! Do you have your passport sent in, yet???