Monday, January 19, 2009


Well, here I am again. Back at school and it's about time. That last week was a killer because all my friends had gone back and I had no car, and well, there just wasn't a lot to do.

Since I am back at SPU, I decided that I should update you on my life here. My course load this semester is hopefully going to not be too terribly hard. My hardest class is probably going to be the four day a week "Math Requirement." I'm not particularly looking forward to that class. Probably the second hardest class I'm going to have this semester is Soviet Lit which I'm taking with the same professor as last semester. She makes you work, I tell you what. My other classes include "Europe's Governments" "English 2" and "Leadership". The latter is a class I'm taking for fun. It's a two hour a week class that is leadership training and then you get to help next summer and over the fall with new student orientation.

Another interesting thing this semester is the addition to Roomie. See I was supposed to have a roommate last semester, but she never showed up so the entire semester I had a room to myself. This semester though, I was assigned a new roommate. Roomie seems very nice and once we get over the initial stage of awkwardness I think we'll get along all right. This isn't a long post, and wasn't intended to be, just wanted to let you know where I was at college-wise.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cynicism, Jealousy, and Influences

So, I've been thinking a lot about Russia the past few days. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I dreamed about Moscow, maybe it's that several of our District's future outbounds have IMed me over the last several days, or maybe it's because I've been following the blogs of several inbounds from various places. Most likely it's a combination of all of them.

I think Russia did something to me. Because I came back and while I encourage exchange students no matter where they're going, there's a part of me that has an almost superior attitude that borders on being cynical. It's like a part of me is like "Oh, yeah, you're going to [Insert Country Here] but it'll never be as good/hard/worthwhile as going to Russia." which is a stupid attitude to have. No Exchange is created equal. But then Russia's not for everyone either. I've been hearing from people who are in Russia now and they are complaining. Complaining about the same things I complained about, actually. And I want to slap them and tell them to get over it because that's just Russia. Russia seriously does things to you. It's an exchange where you hate it a lot. But then suddenly you realize how much you come to love and care for it, it gets under your skin so to speak, and once it does you can never forget it. I know I've probably said this before, but maybe I feel the need to explain because maybe this time someone will understand better what I mean. Or perhaps not.

I was thinking about why I would feel this way; Why do I go around with this attitude. I thought that maybe it has something to do with the fact that surviving Russia is an accomplishment, it's a particularly hard exchange. So part of me looks at other exchanges as 'wimpy' though that's not true as each country poses its own challenges. So I think it has to do with that, but at the same time I think a part of me is jealous. "Oh this person is in Spain and isn't homesick and is having the time of their life." Perhaps I'm jealous because that wasn't my exchange.

Please don't get the wrong impression. I loved my exchange with all its crazy ups and downs. I got to see some of the coolest things in the world got to experience things, learned a cool language. But I think the jealousy stems from the fact that my exchange wasn't roses and sunshine. I had to Work at my exchange. Whereas it sometimes seems like the people who pick other countries get there exchanges handed to them on a silver platter. That's part of the jealousy. The other part is that it's really depressing to read all these interesting stories of adventures that other people are having and have your adventure already be old news. It's one of the most depressing feelings in the world.

One of the blogs I've been reading is a friend of mine who's spending her exchange in a very well known European country. She's having a great time and in one of her recent blog posts, she mentioned all of the cultural things she was going to keep doing from her host country when she came back to America. A bittersweet feeling welled up within me as I read this. She doesn't yet realize how much you are influenced by the world around you, and how hard it is to do something out of cultural context.

When I was still in Russia I had determined that I was going to bring some cultural things back with me. I was going to kiss people when I greet them, I was going to eat Sour Cream on bread with jelly, I was going to continue to drink chai all hours of the day and I was going to answer the phone with "Allo?"

Since coming home I haven't eaten a single slice of bread and sour cream, I don't really kiss anyone on the cheek to greet them, I rarely drink chai. The first day I answered the phone and automatically said "hello" was rather traumatic and now when I pick up the phone if I don't consciously think about using "allo" half the time I say "hello." But these things have no context in this culture and so it's hard to keep doing them. Not doing these things is just another grim reminder that I'm not in Russia anymore and every day I'm forgetting, every day I'm losing something else.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moscow Never Sleeps

Last night I was in Moscow. I dreamed that I was stopping there on my way home, maybe from Yakutsk, I don't really know. I do know that I was in and around Red Square. It was a particularly vivid dream. I wandered past the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and I saw a girl from my class at school in Yakutsk. We wandered around together. The worst part of my dream was that when I first opened my mouth to speak to her the Russian didn't come out smoothly. It took me a bit to get it going. It scared me, the fact that I was having trouble saying the most basic things, although it did feel really good to be in Moscow, even if it was just in my head...

Monday, January 12, 2009


I haven't updated in a while. For that I am sorry. People must actually follow this though because I started hearing rumblings about how I hadn't updated in a while and I should.

I left Russia six months ago. I know. It's weird. I can hardly believe how fast the time has gone by when it went so slowly in Russia. A lot has happened in the last six months and I think when I look back on it in the future. I am forever going to associate these six months with major changes in my life. Not just changes dealing with the people around me, but changes within myself as well.

I was decieved. Or maybe God was watching out for me, knew I wouldn't be able to handle it at first. You see, while I was still in Russia, there was a part of me that thought everything would be different when I got home. That my house would be different and my family would be different and people would have changed completely. This was true to some extent. I mean I come back and the five dollar bills are purple and McDonalds was now serving oven fresh cookies and one of my cousins turned into a tree. But I mean for all intents and purposes things were generally the same as they always were. Until recently.

The Thursday before Thanksgiving my mom called my cell phone while I was still in class. I called her back as soon as I got out. "Your Grandma isn't doing to well." Grandma had gone to live at the nursing home full time just before I got home because it was becoming too much work for my parents to take care of her themselves. "Do you want to come home?" And I didn't know if I should. "I have a class in twenty minutes. Can I think about it and call you after?" When I got out of Russian class, I called back. Mom told me she had discussed it with Dad and thought that since they were planning on getting me the next day anyway, I should just stay on campus. So I did. Just after eight the next morning my dad called to tell me that Grandma had passed away. In some ways, though it sounds odd to say it, it was good timing. My brother was coming out anyway because we hadn't seen each other in over a year. Hadn't seen each other at all since I got back from Russia. But it still made for a downer of a Thanksgiving. I mean it was really nice to be home with my family, but it was a long day, all I wanted to do was sleep because we'd been dealing with stuff for the funeral. (The funeral was the day before Thanksgiving.) At least it didn't happen while I was gone. That could've been very bad. When I left for Russia I was still unhappy with having my Grandma living with us even after two years. By the time I came back, I was okay with things, and I got to see Grandma several more times before she died.

Another thing that really hit me hard these past six months actually just happened recently. Over Christmas, my cousin, Aay, got engaged. You have to understand that neither Aay nor I have sisters. We are eleven months apart and grew up together. Lived next door and everything. She is as close to me as a sister. I'll never forget that phone call. I knew what she was going to say before she said it, and when she told me I was so excited for her. Yet at the same time I was so...weirded out. I mean we'd talked about marriage and stuff, all girls do. I knew she was pretty serious about this guy but for some reason them getting engaged always seemed like it was down the road years. Yet all of a sudden *BAM* here it is. I forget that we're adults now and capable of making adult decisions. For some reason I still think that we're 16 and 17. Sometimes it makes me sad that we're not.

I guess that's the main thing that I've come to realize the past six months. I'm not a kid anymore. Recently I read the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and I don't think it could've come at a better time. Jo goes through some of the same feelings and emotions that I've been going through as the things around her begin to change and she can do nothing about it. It scares me sometimes...How fast these six months have gone. It scares me that the whole rest of my life is going to go this fast. I don't want it to, but someone told me once that life just goes faster and faster. I haven't given up on my dreams yet, but I have come to understand that sometimes our dreams take a different shape than our childhood fantasies imagined.