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Memories of the USSR: my first trip abroad

In the summer of 1990, I made my first trip abroad . . . to the Soviet Union. I'll never forget the feeling I had as the plane descended into Moscow and I walked through the dark halls of Sheremetyevo Airport. The Soviet Union was a place I had always wanted to visit.

I participated in a month-long student exchange program between the University of Maryland (my employer) and Timirazev Agricultural Academy in Moscow. In the previous year, several farmers in my area (Maryland's Eastern Shore) had hosted Soviet exchange students from the same program.

During our stay, we were hosted by students at Timirazev Agricultural Academy in Moscow, who did their best to make us feel welcome and comfortable. While in Moscow, our group visited state and collective farms. We met with agricultural faculty from Timirazev Academy. We learned a lot about Soviet agriculture.

We also visited general sites of interest in and around Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) including the Kremlin, St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Lenin Mausoleum, Zagorsk (Sergiev Posad), Lenin Hills (Sparrow Hills), Exhibition of Economic Achievements, Pushkin, the world famous Hermitage museum, and Peter the Great's Summer Palace.

We attended performances at the Bolshoi Theater and Moscow Circus. We visited a Champagne factory, the laundromat, a hospital, and a public bath house. We participated in a taxi race through the streets of Moscow and enjoyed traveling the beautiful Moscow Metro.

My first trip abroad has since led to many other international agricultural experiences, including visits to several other former Soviet republics and satellite states: Poland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Moldova. I have also traveled to Egypt, Brazil, and several Caribbean islands (Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic).

"Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled." -- Mohammed

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