Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.
The Outside World
The Outside World
After Stalin's death overseas visits were allowed for those whose loyalty was beyond doubt. Even these, however, had a disturbing effect, particularly in the universities, on their return. Some students began openly denouncing Russian newspaper articles about Western countries as untrue. A poem by Y. Yevtushenko, a gifted and outspoken young writer, expresses the mood of many young Russians:
Western periodicals are keenly sought by students, but since libraries still usually keep these under lock and key most make do with the Yugoslav paper "Borba"— "the nearest thing to an objective view of the outside world we have," as one student put it. The appetite for travel will certainly grow as more students go to study overseas, and to Youth Festivals. Such visits as have taken place must have done a lot to remove some wrong ideas about Western political and social conditions.
In 1958 a student delegation visited Britain and lived with university professors' families. On their return the two things that they stressed in a radio broadcast (apart from the friendly reception) were that British university teachers managed without domestic help and the fact that university libraries were open until all hours and operated on an honour system, with all publications readily available.
A picture of Russian students in this rapidly changing environmeit is given by Rex Brown, a Scottish student who studied in the Soviet Union In 1958. His strongest impression was of their "warm, unaffected friendliness." He also noticed "an intense Soviet nationalism when faced by Westerners" which created a defensive attitude under criticism. "The general intellectual mood in Moscow University was one of confidence—confidence in the applicability of dialectical materialism in all its forms, and in the surefire answers its application yields." But, although most students he met were convinced Communists, some were critical of the regime and hope for something better as time went by. A few more were openly and completely hostile to It. Thus, in spite of an overt display of assurance, the tensions and insecurities of Soviet students, and the whole younger generation, do not Lie far below the surface.