Published On: Wed, Oct 5th, 2011

Moscow native learns about farm life here

HARTINGTON — This is the first time for Gayle and Rhonda Becker to invite an exchange student into their home.
The family has been enjoying the opportunity to host an exchange student and has been learning a lot about Russia since Anzhelika “Angel” Tolstikhina arrived at their home from Moscow close to a month ago.
“We love her,” Rhonda said. “We are learning a lot about the culture and are learning some of the language.”

Tolstikhina’s family lives in one of the largest cities in Europe.
Moscow, which is the capital of Russia, has a population of over 11 million and is listed as the seventh largest city in the world.
The city is served by an extensive transit network which includes the Moscow Metro, four international airports and nine railroad terminals.
Tolstikhina, who is just 15, has made her way half way around the world and is now living in the country northwest of Hartington with the Becker family.
Tolstikhina has found life in northeast Nebraska to be unlike what she was used to in Russia.
“I love this country. It is a different life but a good life,” Tolstikhina said. “I like Russia, too, – it is different than here – but I like it.”
Tolstikhina will spend close to a year in the U.S. before she returns to Russia.  She is happy to be a student at Cedar Catholic High School. She loves Hartington and the host family she lives with.
“This is the perfect family for me – they treat me like their daughter. They love me,” Tolstikhina said. “This is a perfect town and school. The kids help me. Everyone is very friendly. There are very good people here.”
Tolstikhina is out for cross-country at Cedar Catholic.
“I am trying to run faster – it is hard, but it is good for me,” she said.
Tolstikhina said she likes having a host sister who is also in the 11th grade. She has three host brothers and has met other relatives of the Becker family.
“This is a big family with lots of cousins,” she said.
Tolstikhina has something in common with her host brothers – she likes to hunt.
“I go hunting with them,” Tolstikhina said. “They were shocked to know I want to hunt.
Tolstikhina has been studying at a military school in Russia which her parents wanted her to attend. Education is important to them, she said.
“I live at school and go to classes six days a week. It is good for me but it is very hard,” Tolstikhina said.

Tolstikhina will attend college in Moscow when she returns to Russia but is not sure what she will be doing after her education is completed. She enjoys photography and drawing and would like to do something creative.
She has two sisters who were both exchange students when they were younger. One of her sisters is now living in Canada and one is living on St. Barts Island in the Caribbean.
By using the internet, Tolstikhina keeps in touch with her family once a week by using Skype which allows users to see each other on a monitor while visiting with one another.
Tolstikhina said she hasn’t had a lot of time to think about whether she misses her family or her home country since she arrived in Nebraska.
“I love my country but I am not lonesome – I know I will go back,” Tolstikhina said. “I have been very busy and the people here are so friendly.”