First off, Raisa told me on Saturday that it was the longest day of the year and that we have gained one extra minute of sunlight today. WHOOO! and I'm not being sarcastic at all. I'm being entirely serious. one extra minute of sunlight means that spring will soon be here. Sure, I still have to get through the coldest months, january and february, but I don't think about that. what i do think about is that soon it will be april! whoo!
Anyway, on to my real topic of the day.
The consensus from the several fellow Russian Inbounds I'm incontact with and from what i've heard from the russian rebounds, it's incredibly hard to make friends in Russia. one of the main topics of conversation I have with said fellow inbounds is about how our social lives are coming. It's an interesting Phenomenon. I say this because from what i've heard, and infact experienced, Russians are some of the warmest, most hospitable people in the world.
Unlike many exchange students who, the minute they step off the plane in their host country they have made a whole ton of new friends, the Russian inbounders often wonder why, at several months into the program they may have met a ton of people without actually having made any real friends. I think part of this is explained by the fact that the Russian Inbounders have a unique problem.
you see, for most exchange students, one of the first things that happens when they get to their host country is that they meet the other exchange students. This surrounds them instantly with a cushion of friends because everyone knows that the bond inbounders share with each other is unique and no one quite understands you like your fellow exchange students. Now, I'm not saying that the other exchangers are bad always hanging out with eacher other. They might not see each other all the time, but in most other countries, if you don't have another exchanger in your school or town, it's not to hard to hop on a train and go see the ones in nearby towns. That's Russia's unique problem.
As most of you know, Russia is a big country. spanning two continents and 11 time zones. There aren't usually a ton of exchange students wanting to come to Russia and because RUssia is so big it's usually a 'one exchange student per city' kind of thing. Not only that, but it's not very easy to 'just hop on the train and go' take where I am for example. The nearest exchange student to me is in a city called Nirungry. This city is even in the same Republic as yakutsk. Nirungry is a relatively close city by Russian standards. This means that it's only a four hour plane ride away. So right there is our problem. The Russian exchange students don't have a roaring social life because we're so far apart.
not only that, but even though Russians are some of the nicest people in the world, you still have to break through that tough Russian exterior which in itself takes a while to do. It can be very frustrating because just when you think you've made a friend, said friend backs off and you have to keep trying.
I realized the other day that though it was unintentional, I tend to gravitate towards people who've done traveling. And I don't mean just tourist traveling because everyone in Russia does that. I mean people traveling like I am. people who've seen what it's really like in said country. The people I've gotten to know better than just a preliminary meeting learning about them are all people who've done traveling traveling. I take Khomus lessons with a guy who traveled and did a homestay in germany, I've hung out with last year's outbound who spent her exchange year in germany, Vika spent time in malta practicing her english. The guy from the ped akademia who I occasionally hang out with spent six months in California doing a work and travel program, and my closest friend here, Nina, has spent several summers in England.
They're all native Russians so that's cool. I just think it's interesting that these are the kind of people I gravitate towards. It's not intentional, I promise, I just think it's interesting. Perhaps an subconsious understanding that these people will understand where I'm coming from better than others.
The point is that I've almost completed my fourth month, and even though the friend thing got off to a slow start, it's getting better. My social life is starting to take off and I can only hope that it will keep getting better and better!