Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seattle, Regrets, Friends & Leaving.....part 1

It is currently 11:00 Pacific Standard Time and I am sitting in Sea-Tac Airport waiting to catch my flight to DC, where I'll be spending my last few days in civilization before heading off to the Motherland.  It's been a rough couple of days what with the packing (thinking I've forgotten something and compulsively unpacking and repacking my bags), thinking about the friends who I'm leaving behind (only physically because I hope to stay in contact with all of you) and being filled with pure excitement and intense nervousness.

Most of you who read this know that I had initially planned on taking a job in Bangladesh, which at the time seemed extremely terrifying because it was an entirely new land, completely different from home.  Instead, I ended up taking a Fulbright to Russia, which is in many ways, much scarier despite the fact that I've been to and spent a considerable amount of time in Russia.  No matter the choice, I was going alone, that is to say I wouldn't and don't know anyone ahead of time of where I'll be living.  The one comfort I would have had in Bangladesh however, was that there would have been a considerably larger population of English-speakers with which to converse.  As it is, I'll be heading to Elista, Russia, a city of about 100,000 (quite small and very rural) where there will be no native English-speakers apart from myself.  This is a pretty humbling thought, especially as an American where so many seem to think that English is the be all and end of all of language (let me inform you it is most certainly not and I urge that if living in America you should learn another language, probably Spanish).  It will be pretty interesting living in a city where I'll need to speak another language to survive and even more so because I'm as fluent in that language as perhaps a 4 year old might be.

Yet for all the fears I'm suffering as I prepare to go back, the excitement that has long been bubbling up inside of me is finally spilling up over the edges. I feel more prepared this time, at least to handle the troubles that I know I'll face in Russia (i.e. registration/visa, police, "different" food and finally inefficiency).  Despite my Russian language deficit, I believe I know enough Russian to get by and even if I don't then I'm certain it's something a couple shots of nice Russian vodka won't be able to cure.  I feel ready (more or less...haha) to teach and have students look up to me solely as their leader in the classroom.  And I think I'm ready to be moving on from Seattle and Washington, despite my strong love for my home state.

Now for the friends and the regrets and Seattle.  I've lived in Seattle for four years now and it is the closest thing I think I have to what people might call "home" even though I no longer have somewhere to stay there, at least not of my own.  There are a good deal many things in Seattle I didn't ever do (go up the space needle); many things I did far too often (eat out at one of Seattle's amazing restaurants) and things that were played out just right (perfect amount of coffee shop time!).  I apologize to the many people I didn't get to see before I left, both those of you who live in Seattle, those of you from Ritzville and Spokane and those of you from virtually anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest.  Though I didn't see you and do not know for how long I'll be back next summer, know that I miss you and very much plan on staying in touch!

Leaving was difficult because my parents insisted on bringing me to the airport and of course my mother, bless her heart, had to cry.  That was difficult.  Not having to leave my parents, that wasn't hard, but watching my mother cry, that's something I don't like and hope to never get used to.  I was able to see some amazing friends Seattle before heading out and it made my day to be able to see them all.

Anyways, my flight is getting ready to board and I have to mentally prepare myself to, once again, pick up my carry-on luggage and haul its heavy ass on board (all my books are in my carry-on, they don't weigh it!).  So I bid you all Пока (informal Russian for goodbye - pronounced like Pa-kA) and I'll see you in a week or so!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The First of Many....Packing

It's late, I'm up, I thought that now might be a stupidly brilliant time to do my first Russian blog entry despite the fact that I'm not in Russia, nor yet even left the country.  Oh well.

Anyways, trying to pack for 10 months in Russia is difficult, especially with such dramatic weather changes.  Today in Elista it's supposed to be about 34 degrees Celsius (or 94 F), while the winters get down, on average, to -10 to -25 Fahrenheit.  That's ridiculous for one area, but more ridiculous that I have two bags (not particularly large ones either) to fill with the appropriate clothes for 10 months worth of up and down weather.

Let us not forget however, that I have a good deal many other things to pack besides clothes.  I have books to pack (because I have no idea what "Interactive English" is), I have my computer, shoes, gidgets and gadgets, some gifts and a whole slew of whatever else.  When it comes right down to it, I don't have much room and it's driving me nuts.

That being said, I like the idea of packing a little bit light and having the opportunity to bring some things back (I'm hoping for a camel personally because yes there are apparently camels near Elista - awesome right?).  Anyways, I was told that Russians wear the same clothes day after day without shame so I've decided to, in the spirit of Russia, do the same and am packing very little.  When in Rome right?