I’ve been trying to write this post all week, but every time I try I just start getting emotional and overwhelmed. But I’m leaving Russia in a few hours, so it’s now or never. For the past week, I’ve been waking up with the crippling realization that my time here has been coming to an end. On the one hand, I feel like I just got here, and keep thinking to myself “oh, I should go check that out at some point,” not realizing that the time between now and “some point” has decreased dramatically. It didn’t really hit me until we had our “farewell” lunch with our Russian as a Second Language teachers last week that yes, I am actually going to be leaving, and I don’t know when I’ll be coming back.

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On the other hand, when I look back over the past four months, I am kind of amazed at how much I’ve adjusted to life here, and how things that seemed really scary or just generally incomprehensible to me in January are now normal parts of my life. Shouting at the bus driver to stop so that I don’t miss my stop? Sure! Giving people directions? I actually know where things in the city are located and how to get to them now! Explaining to my host mom that it’s warm out and I really don’t need to be wearing a sweater? Well… I didn’t say I was perfect. I still do find myself practicing conversations in my head before I have to talk to anyone new, and my on-the-spot Russian-speaking abilities are still somewhat lacking, but I do think I’ve gotten somewhat better.

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It’s a little bit sad that now that I finally no longer feel like a tourist, I’m packing up to leave. In retrospect, while it wouldn’t have worked out academically for me to spend an entire year here, I still wish I had another semester here. I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of life in the city. As of turning in my final paper last night, I am also now a senior in college, which is a terrifying prospect in its own right.I think everyone in my program here has the same vague fear about graduation… what exactly does one do with a Russian degree?

Russia 101

Last night I checked off one of the final things on my to-do list and stayed out to watch the bridges come up (which happens at 1:25 am). Before that I wandered around the city, saying my last goodbyes. I got rid of all my 10 kopeck coins by throwing them at the Чижик-Пыжик statue, wandered along the canals and through my favorite parks, watched the sun set from one of the bridges, and had a last drink in my favorite cafe. Since all the buses stop running at 12, I had to walk home from watching the bridge come up (about 3 miles.) When I got home at 2:45, there was still light in the western sky:

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I’m sorry that I haven’t been updating this blog with any sort of frequency. I do plan to keep it going while I’m in Tbilisi this summer, recounting my adventures there and (hopefully) catching up on some of my stories from Russia. I wish I had some big, articulate thing to say to sum up my time here, but mostly I am just going to miss it a lot. Even the crazy bus drivers, even run-ins with angry babushki. While overall this semester was nothing like I expected, I honestly can’t think of a single thing I would change. До свидания Питер!

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