I’m still in Russia, still in Siberia. But not for very much longer. I already feel weird, weirder than I thought I would, but it will only be weirder when I get back to America, which is June 23rd, by the way.
The last few weeks have been nice. Testing at the international department went fine, we had a nice last dinner, but I was a little disappointed that Alexandra Vladimirovna didn’t start crying. Because she said she was going to. It was a bummer seeing the new students go. They had all gotten a lot better at Russian and they were a good group. After our farewell lunch we walked one last time down the hill, bought a bottle of Soviet Champagne for $3.50 and 5 little plastic cups and we all said a little toast. In the woods by Lermontov street. Which proves that we all learned something from Russian culture here.
After that I mostly just hung around and wrote a paper about the fall of the Ottoman empire for my class at the history department. And did absolutely nothing to plan for my parents’ arrival with my aunt. The day before they arrived I didn’t sleep well at all—soon my parents, probably the anchor of my previous life in Americaland—would be in Irkutsk, the center of Irkutskland. I was especially anxious waiting in the hotel lobby. But it was fine, the day was hot and gorgeous and we walked around all my favorite parts of the center. But that evening I realized after my host mom called how many things I had not done to prepare for their time here and how I would not have time to do them: I had to write a paper about Vasily Shukshin, buy tickets for a boat and a van, find housing, etc. And I got really stressed out. And I don’t hardly ever get stressed, even at Middlebury, and I remembered that I don’t deal with stress well. I just get really tense and irritable and unfocused. So that night after we went out to dinner I didn’t sleep well either.
I’m not going to share all the boring details, but everything worked out, except for the weather, which after two brilliant days around 80 degrees, in which we finally went swimming at the dacha, which I had been looking forward to all year, and which was blissful, turned to 55 degrees and cold ugly rain. Which continued for 2 and a half days. So we had two sort of gray and not-so-great days at Listvyanka, but my planned showcase, Bolshiye Koti, went really well. I think they saw Baikal and enjoyed their Russian banya and etc. Only the public rocket boat doesn’t run on Mondays, so we had to hire a fisherman for three times the price. Oops!
I downloaded a saccharine Russian pop song from the 90’s after I read the chorus at the end of a Viktor Pelevin novel. The chorus has taken on a sort of strange meaning for me now:
Завтра улечу Tomorrow I'll fly away
В солнечное лето To a sunny summer
Буду делать все, что захочу I'll do whatever I want
The lyrics are about as heavy as the casio accompaniament, but I like that image. Its not like I haven't had fun in Russia. It's not really about Russia, but about a time in my life: I think living here has made me more confident, and there were a lot of things that I never did earlier in my life that now seem harmless. I think I should do more things that I always wanted to do, as long as it doesn't bother anybody else. So I guess study abroad really is a formative experience blah blah blah.
2 years ago