Reflections from a distance

Being back in Los Angeles for almost one month now, with the new school semester heading into full force, I realized that I have yet to upload the photos from my trip. Better late then never!

Today I finally got down to transferring the photos from my camera into my computer. Looking at photos I had given throughout my trip made me a little nostalgic of my exploration of a entirely different world, the hospitality of Larisa and her family throughout my stay, relying on google translate to learn and understand Russian especially in an environment where English was not needed for daily activies, and being able to conduct my own research and following it through. On the right is a photo of Larisa and I before I departed Ufa for my 20hour train journey. You may probably notice how inappropriately dressed I was for the Russian winter, in comparison to Larisa! Throughout my stay in Ufa, Larisa kindly allowed me to borrow another coat of her to use.

The photo on the left shows a “health warning” label printed on cigarettes that were sold in bulk at one of the bigger supermarkets in Ufa, which translates to say “Smoking is highly addictive. Do not start smoking.” Compared to scary images and threatening warnings on cigarette packages in other parts of the world, I am uncertain if that in itself is an effective warning, especially for current smokers since they have already begun smoking and will probably buy cigarettes because they are already addicted! Usually I have only seen cigarettes sold wholesale at airport departure lounges. Seeing cigarettes being sold in bulk at a local supermarket was really an indicative sign that there is a high prevalence of smoking in Ufa and probably many other parts of Russia. The photo on the right shows two Russian men taking a cigarette break while waiting for their bus to arrive.

At the same supermarket in Ufa, Ialso noticed that almost one-third of the store was stocked with alcohol beverages, like the photo on the right showing row after row of smirnov and other brands of vodka. Being invited to join Larisa’s friends to celebrate birthday parties as well as joining them in outdoor activities such as ice-skating and ice-tubing, beer and vodka was always available and it seemed like an essential ingredient for having a great time!
I was so exicted to hear from Dr. Akhmadeeva earlier this week that they will be presenting some preliminary results of the study at the annual BSMU Neurology Conference in April! This is definitely a great start that hopefully will lead to more changes in attitudes towards smoking and alcohol consumption in Russia.
Last but not least, here is a photo taken of me in my borrowed fur coat standing in front of the hospital where the a large proportion of the CEA operations in Ufa take place. It was definitely an enjoyable (but chilly) trip and once again, I am really grateful to the USC Global Health Instiute for affording me this educational experience!