One of the things that surprised me most about Russian language and culture is how very European it is. Russian LOOKS really foreign, I guess, because of that mysterious cyrillic alphabet. But once you get past that barrier, you start to really see how interconnected we all are. It’s just another European language with tons of shared vocabulary and common roots. Music and literature completely intermesh with the European experience.
The Cold War stopped a lot of people from seeing all that, I think.