Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Interiors: Dormitory Life in a Canadian Clinic

Leonard Monaco is ever so shy about showing off his "living quarters" as he calls the basic, dormitory-like room where he sleeps. Since Monaco, 52, arrived in Moscow last month from Montreal to manage the newly opened Canadian clinic M?diclub Moscow, he has found himself living more like a college student than at any time in his 30-year career as an architect and business owner. He and the four Canadian medical staff live in one wing of the clinic, located within the city construction workers' hospital on Michurinsky Prospekt, and work in the other wing. "In fact, we all sit around in our pajamas talking all night," says Monaco. "I try to keep it as happy as possible -- we eat together, we laugh together." The basic black-and-white "living quarters" were designed so that doctors could easily care for emergency cases during their rotating tours in Moscow. Those rotations were supposed to last for weeks, not years, but Monaco says he is inclined to extend his initial three-month contract here for two full years. "I'm happy I came here," he says, "I like the Russian people." Living and working in the same facility has its benefits, chiefly a morning commute of about 30 seconds. On the other hand, Monaco says, "I find we're a little detached from reality. That's why I take the metro whenever I can." His independent spirit has made his Russian joint-venture partners a bit nervous at times -- since he does not yet speak Russian, they want him to stay safely ensconced with his car and driver. But Monaco will have none of it. At home, his passion is building cars, and with his Shelby Cobra two-seater on blocks back in Canada, he says he can hardly wait to get his Russian driver's permit and buy a military jeep. "I love building cars -- it's my passion and my obsession," he says. "I design the frame, the suspension, everything." While he is in Russia, the car construction will have to wait. So on weekends Monaco has taken to visiting old churches, and speaks with awe of the Kremlin cathedrals, as he engages in his other passion, history. True Confessions What Russian medicine can teach Canadian medicine: Therapeutic massage. "It has gotten to be an art form. I had a shoulder problem, and instantly they said, 'Oh, we'll take care of that.' It's just great." What Canadian medicine can teach Russian medicine: Principles of sterility and cleanliness. Biggest surprise upon arriving here: That the people are very warm and that guns are not actually everywhere. "Everyone was telling me, 'Watch who you're talking to, be careful where you walk.' That's all garbage." Biggest frustration: The bureaucracy. Currently only American and Swiss drugs are accepted easily at customs. Most useless item brought from Canada: "My tux. I sent it back -- I was too embarrassed to even put it in my closet."