I have had a great interest in learning about other countries since I was in high school. I remember my parents having one of those really big, coffee table books with a lot of photos from around the world. This was in the 1980s, and we just did not have a lot of access to learn about other countries, so seeing photos was really helpful to me. I really like learning about England and Russia. So, I’m both an Anglophile and a Russophile. Recently, I spent some time learning about Baroness Joanna Shields from England. I find these sorts of things fascinating.
My interest in all things British came about from my early naivety that the country of Britain is really no different from my own country. In fact, I thought visiting there would probably be boring because of it. Boy, was I wrong. I was lucky to visit there about 10 years ago, and I was stunned by how different the landscape and architecture was as soon as I drove down my very first English street. I realized just how naive I was at that point. I had a wonderful visit there, and would love to go again. As soon as I came home, I began researching and learning as much as I could about the area.
Separately, my love of all things Russia came about from the very same picture book that I mentioned earlier. There were all these interesting black and white photographs of people, who seemed so different than me. And I found it fascinating that there were no color photographs, even though they were taken in the 1970s and 80s. I later learned that the people there didn’t have access to color film until the Soviet wall came down. You never really know what another place is like until you visit and spend some time there.