Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Russia Update

Hi all!

I know it's been a long time since my last update and I"m going to be honest. The reason for this is because I've been putting it off. I mean, what do you say to a group of people you're going to be seeing soon? Not only that, but how do you describe all of this? I'm so confused right now. In some ways it feels like these final few weeks are harder than the first because the truth is, I'm ready to go home.

I think sometimes, the exchange students who feel this way don't like to admit it because it's at this point that many of our peers are having such a good time, they don't want to leave. And it's not that my exchange has been bad, in some ways it's like the defining moment of my life up until now. It's just I'm tired and ready to go home and have a break before starting the next adventure.

At least I'm not as scared as I was. For a while there, I was terrified to come home. At District Conference we were asked how we felt about the whole "Soon going home" concept. I answered "Afraid" and started to cry. It's hard to explain why. I was afriad because what if everything back home has changed and what if nothing has? THankfully though the raw terror in the pit of my stomach stage is past and I'm dealing with it.

Now the big question I'm wrestling with is how to share what I've learned, what I've experienced here. My mom said that we should have a welcome home party about a week after I get back. She told that it would be good for me to do a fifteen to twenty minute presentation. I know at some point I'm going to have to do one for my sponsering Rotary club as well. And that's when I realized firstly, How do you fit ten and a half months into fifteen minutes? Secondly, How in the world do I share this? One of the most depressing things I've realized recently is that as soon as I leave here and share my experiences with people back home, I'm going to be talking to people who've never experienced these things. I know, it sounds really odd when I write it like that. Like it doesn't make any sense. But it's like this. I can tell you what it feels like to lay on ice in June, to realize you suddenly understand a new word, to hear the rough sing-song of the Yakutian language. I can even show you pictures. But it's not the same as actually experiencing it.

So that's what's been bothering me most of all the last week or so. The fact that I won't be able to share my life here with you well enough. Maybe it sounds stupid, but that's one of the reasons for coming here in the first place. I wanted to learn what life in Russia was really like so I could share it with the people back home and break down sterotypes, just like I've been doing here with America.

I've spent the last nine and a half months doing everything in my power to become Russian. It makes sense to carry toilet paper around with you, to pack whole meals with you when you travel, even for a short time. It no longer bothers me to eat yougurt that's been sitting unrefrigerated on a boat for two days, or eat meat that's been sitting out most of the day. And when there's a 50% off sale on plane tickets because of the March 8th holiday and your usually 10,000 rouble tickets only cost you 8,000 you just shrug your shoulders and go on with life because it's just "Russian Tradition"

The irony is that after spending all this time learning and becoming this not quite russian, not quite american person, in Two weeks I'm going to be returning to a culture that expects me to be fully American, and I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that. It's not that I don't love my birth country, but after something like this I don't think I can ever go back to being fully American.

Having said that, I hope you all have patience with me at first. I have a feeling I might be a little confused and disoriented sometimes. lol.

That's basically all I've got right now.

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