Yulia Kazakova 2017-09-16
Survival Of The Fittest

Xenia Trotzky is an international student, who came from Austria to study management and to explore Russia. Her grandfather was born in Voronezh but left Russia during the Revolution of 1917, fighting for the White Army. Last year she experienced ice swimming in cold water. On the night of 14th January, between the hours of 11 and 2 a.m, together with many other international students from the dorm, they took part in this traditional occasion.

However, she feels a strong connection with Russian culture and respects the ability of Russian people to deal comfortably with loads of problems at given times.

How hard is it to explain to her friends from Europe, that associating Russia with endless winters, lots of ice, snow and vodka is a biased view of Western TV-channels? The answer is obvious- to become a director of the film.

When Xenia Trozky was packing her suitcase in August before coming to Moscow, she made sure she had enough tights, wool pullovers and basically anything that could save her from the famous Russian winter.  She was quite scared of the winter and how she would be able to endure it.

Now, eight months later – she is a bit disappointed of the winter! She expected it to be much worse with weeks of temperatures below minus 30 degrees.

This experience has kept her convinced that, people can actually show things in such a different way with the help of a camera and little imagination!

Just create your setting, change the music, and you can trick people into believing in any idea: and to Xenia, this is how easy and simple media works!

You can manipulate so easily and frankly, it is fun doing it. „I hope people in Europe — including my friends — would one day stop believing all the stereotypes about Russia and would stop seeing Russia as a dangerous and retrograde country. Concerning all the big cities I’ve visited in Europe- Moscow is definitely the safest of them.”

The first part of the video took place in Murmansk. Xenia and her friends who had come for an exchange program at HSE and MGIMO, Lata Liecht, Teodora Bozhilova, Bettina Grünleitner and Jakob Gordon, had the opportunity to understand what the  ‘Russian soul’ meant. She had one of the best experiences in Russia riding on dog sleighs in Murmansk.

In the middle of nowhere, she recorded the untouched and pure nature the pace was endowed with. These wonderful images continuously pushed her into changing her initial blurred thoughts of the supposed ‘no go’ area called Russia.

The other story that she would definitely tell her friends is about the experience of ice swimming in cold water: ice swimming. On the night of 14th January, between the hours of 11 and 2 a.m, together   with many other international students from the dorm, they took part in this traditional occasion. The long queue of participants kept them in the freezing cold for almost three hours.

While waiting in the queue, the students tried to keep themselves away from thinking about the cold and about diving into the water. When in Russia- do it as the Russians do! So, they made the best out of it.

And this is another very positive aspect of the Russian mentality – there are no problems – there is just another way to get to the result or solution. That is why Russians a very optimistic.
Finally, as it was their turn to dive into the frozen lake, the temperature outside didn’t matter anymore! The magic was perhaps due to adrenalin which filled their minds and bodies.

The experience in the cold water is simply indescribable. You feel that your brain stops working, but afterwards you have the best feeling in the world. Even though having been scared earlier about this whole new encounter, after four times trying, and with the help of a camera, it was really worthwhile.

Like in the movie, many people are scared of taking risks to discover what the reality is elsewhere. And this challenging idea is exactly what Xenia really thinks we should do in our lives. People often hesitate whether they should risk something but what could happen? If you fail, you just gain more experience. Go and get everything you can get – that is how you should think.

In her University in Bavaria, students don’t have so many opportunities since the town is small and everyone just studies. Moscow has opened Xenia’s eyes. In the movie she wanted to keep the perception of Russia like it is so cold and it is hard to survive the winter, although people can still have fun during this period of the year.

Russian hospitality is well-known all over the world whereas meeting people on the streets makes you think of them as very rude and harsh. But once you know them well, this friendship lasts forever.

Xenia has a theory: If you live in a country where it is hard to live in, where it is cold and you are struggling, people share the same feelings and try to help you when you really need help. The harder to live — the nicer people are.

In warm countries they change friends easier, because of the mentality like «ok, this summer I share your views, next summer I have other interests». But the Russian soul is very sensitive and vulnerable.

Foreigners will never understand the Russian soul. If you live in such a huge country, people realize that they are very small and powerless compared to nature. Russians have struggled so much throughout history but still have a very strong believe in God. Additionally, Xenia realized that religion in Russia is much more important and popular than it is in Europe.

On the one hand, I am of course happy that spring is around the corner now, but it is the first time in my life I am sad that winter is over. Because you shouldn’t just visit Russia, you should experience and try to understand it in all its facets.

When you are talking to Xenia it feels like she understood the Russian soul or she is just full of Russian energy that her ancestors had one century before.