Всем Привет! Как у вас дела?
I hope everyone back at home is doing wonderfully. I have a couple of exercises that I’m finishing up, but in the meantime I wanted to add another post on life in Russia.
I am glad to be back in class and resettled in St. Petersburg. I’ve heard some dreadful things about the month of November and you can already begin to see what people are talking about: awful weather. However, I’m sure it’s doable, and quite honestly we don’t have a choice.
It’s unbelievable how close to the end we are with this program, but to be honest with everyone, I really cannot wait to get home. Some people came to Russia fully prepared to move here as soon as possible. Needless to say, I was not one of those people, and I am 99% positive that I will leave this country still not being one of those people. I’m sure there will be future visits, whether to visit or for work, but moving here would be a long stretch for me. (When I talk about moving, I mean moving by choice)
But enough about that.
My week here has been going incredibly slow. It’s probably because last week was our “vacation” and it’s going to take a little push to get into the swing of things again. Our professors have been generous enough to give us easier topics this week, but that doesn’t hide the fact that some of us still have a paper coming up in the near future.
I have finally attempted to start watching Russian films. I’m really behind with some of these cultural things, so in order to spread the love, I’ll include a link to the movie I watched. It’s called Ivan Vasilievich Changes Occupations. Our Russian department back in America has stressed that we should see this film, and we even performed the dance at the International Fair my freshman year. Two years later, I have successfully watched it. It’s a comedy about time travel, and although I’m not at the point where I understand every conversation and every word, I did get the main context of it.
If you’re someone who would like to watch, there is the link on Mosfilm. You can put the subtitles to English if you’d like.
Other than that, my week has been uneventful, as I mentioned before. I was supposed to go back and teach my English class again on Tuesday, but unfortunately there was a misunderstanding between the professor and myself. I thought she told me to meet her at 6pm in the building where the class is. What she actually said was meet her at 5.30 in the main building on 6th street..
I felt bad for making her wait for me, because it really was a miscommunication problem, and I most certainly didn’t mean to make this mistake. However, when she walked in the room in the other building, I did not get any sort of understanding from her at all.
She proceeded to tell me how she had been waiting for over an hour and that I am a burden to her and her class. I am not a help nor am I qualified to help her, and in reality she is the one helping me. When I apologized I was given the answer: “No. No you’re not sorry.” As well as looked at and told: “It’s you. This is because of you.”
I really didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry at this reaction. The great thing about the entire situation is that my first time going to the class, we were supposed to meet beforehand as well, and she never showed up. Not only that, but she had completely forgotten about me altogether. I understand that this was due to certain circumstances in her personal life, but it was amusing to see that when I misunderstood the time and place, she didn’t once consider that something may have happened to me as well. (It didn’t, but hypothetically speaking). I would be much more understanding of her thoughts if this is something that I had done repeatedly over the course of the semester, but the fact remains that it was an honest misunderstanding.
We were told when we came to Russia that we would need to grow a “second skin” to deal with the people here. I also told people that I was writing this blog not only for myself, but for the benefit of other people who are going to study abroad in St. Petersburg in the future.
My advice to those people is this: Grow that second skin before you come here. Try to do it. As someone from America, I didn’t really understood what that meant, but after being here I have a much better idea of what our staff was talking about. I understand that other students may also not understand what I’m telling them, but the truth is that this is a rough country. Coming as a tourist is one thing- people know you are a tourist, and although it may be annoying, it’s alright. Coming in as a student- someone who speaks the language and is actually trying to blend in– is a completely different story. It can be tough to try to integrate yourself into a society that doesn’t even want you there in the first place, so as a bit of a warning to students: be prepared for a culture shock in this aspect. Just because you’re American doesn’t mean people will be nice to you. In fact, it can mean quite the opposite here.
If you’re one of those people who just doesn’t care at all, and has no intention of really even trying to get by as a native, good for you. You’ll probably have less stress. But you may not learn as much.
Either way, everything is a learning experience. These past two weeks have probably been more of a learning experience for me than any class in college.
On that note, I’ll leave you for now. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone’s beautiful, smiling faces when I return. We come home pretty close to Christmas, so if I could ask for any gift, it would be that I’m surrounded by people who are happy, smiling, and laughing. Even if just for a bit, because I’ve been lacking that for that past couple of months.