Monday, October 17, 2011


I'm not even going to lie, it's kind of scary how much I'm loving being here. I'm really enjoying this time. I mean, is it lonely? Occasionally, when it's late and I should go to bed but don't feel like it. But generally I'm keeping busy and things are going well. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop because I feel like it should not be legal for me to be having this much fun.

Maybe it's because everything is sort of subconsciously compared to my exchange. This is completely different though. There was a part of me that never fully got used to living in Yakutsk. I mean, my goodness all I did was cry the first three days and then tried to make it through every day in order to get home. I learned a lot. There were some definite good times, but there were also some very bad times too.

I think some of my enjoyment of this comes from automatically having a family. I mean, you have host families while on exchange. But honestly, with one exception I never felt particularly close to my host families. This time it's different. As soon as I got here, I felt welcomed, loved and accepted. Oh, I still have awkward moments, you have those any time you live in a foreign country. But among my church family I'm not afraid to admit that I don't understand, not afraid to make mistakes with the language, not afraid to ask for help. It's a nice feeling. My host families were willing to help me, but sometimes I could tell I was a burden or that they didn't really want to be dealing with me. They accepted me to a certain extent because they had to. The church people kind of have to as well, but the difference is they don't mind. I feel like there's an attitude of "Great! You're here! What can you learn from us and what can we learn from you?" Because we are all trying to be Christ centered, we automatically have that in common and it makes things easier.

But I didn't start writing this blog post with the intention of preaching. There are other factors that are making this transition easier as well. For one, I already know the language an culture. My exchange took me through the difficulties of learning a language and adapting to the culture. The first few days I was in St. Petersburg were a little rough language wise. I wasn't used to hearing full-on fluent Russian spoken all the time. Last week as I believe I mentioned, however all of a sudden it was like I kind of slid back into it and now every day it gets easier. I'm understanding a ton of what people say. I'm speaking more too.

The one thing I regretted after my exchange was I felt like I didn't practice talking enough. Well, that's being remedied now. If exchange was Russian 101, this is the next level. I talk a ton more than in Yakutsk. Plus, I talk and listen to more in depth subjects. I guess I really am conversationally fluent. People tell me good things about my Russian which makes me feel good. I know that I don't speak perfectly, not by any means, but to have native Russians tell me that I sound good, or that I form my words well, or that it's good when I correct myself means a lot to me. It's like they notice I'm trying and that makes me feel good and want to try harder.

Another thing that is making this easier is the place itself. Honestly, sometimes it doesn't even feel like I'm in Russia. There's a McDonald's two blocks down and KFCs here and there. I mean, it's obviously a Russian city, but it doesn't feel like it. I don't really know how to explain it. It just has a different atmosphere. After living in Siberia, and Yakutsk in particular, this place is like a wonderland of joy and joyness. The stores don't have empty shelves and there's always a selection of at least two or three brands of whatever item you want. Yeah, stuff is more expensive here, but they also have what you want. When you want it.  I'm constantly surprised at the things they have in the store here. Pre-made dough for Pirozhki? What? Or a product similar to something we have in the states that I couldn't get in Yakutsk? Wow!

I can already tell that it's going to be really hard to go home next fall. 

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