I came to the United States on 26th of July in 2016 and it was the first time being in this country. I came from Russia to study my graduate degree in New York. I felt like an alien in a new place with new people around me. I had a lot of stereotypes in my head, for example, that Americans eat hamburgers and nothing else. My mother worried about what I would eat during all two years of my studies. I worried more about another thing. I love to go to the Banya. Banya is a Russian steam bath, or sauna. It is a very hot room, up to 212 Fahrenheit, heated with firewood or electric heating. The object in the pictures is a Venik and it is an irreplaceable attribute of Banya. Venik is leafy branches of birch or oak tree that are bound together. Once your body gets hot you start to smack all over your body with the Venik. By doing that you massaging your body and get a smooth and clean skin after all. I went to the Banya every week in my country and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to go there in USA. Nobody can imagine how happy I was when I found Russian bath house with Veniks in New York! Such things make me think that no matter how far we are from home, it is possible to find little pieces of your own culture in the other part of the world. What is more, I realized that in fact no matter what is your nationality, you can enjoy the traditions of other cultures. I wouldn’t be able to find Banya if my American teacher didn’t tell me because she enjoys going there as well.
– Alina Gainetdinova