A year in Russia
Russia hasn’t been getting very good rep in the news of late. Syria. Gay rights (or lack thereof). This isn’t a news analysis blog and I’m sure you’re either aware of current affairs or can use Google so I won’t go into these issues here. But needless to say, in the minds of the British masses (or maybe just my workplace) these issues and the Cold War pretty much sum up Russia. Icy weather, icy relations.
“Why would you want to go there? You’ll probably be back in a month when WW3 starts. Just remember to bring me back some cheap ciggies”- the standard response to the fact I’m moving to Russia.
While I enjoy that these events make me seem really courageous going off to a far away and dangerous land, this narrow view of an evil and intolerant Russia is starting to grate. So many people think I’m either naively making the best of a bad situation or else plain crazy when I say how excited I am to get to Voronezh and start learning. No one believes me that this is genuinely what I want to do; this is me, living the year abroad dream. Finally off to immerse myself in a country, culture and language that intrigues me, that I’ve studied from afar for two years and can now actually experience first hand for an entire academic year.
(I direct you to this fantastic blog for a more political and highbrow analysis of Russian goings-on)
Am I meant to feel this calm?
Soon my wait is over. 35 hours and my flight leaves Gatwick. Moscow then Voronezh await.
But somehow none of this feels quite real yet. I know that it is happening, my suitcase is half packed and literally every item of clothing I have is clean (a rare event and yet still some odd socks remain – a true mystery). It just feels like I should be panicking more than I am, I should be more nervous and fretting about my Russian skillz. I’m living in a dream world; an aloofness to the up-coming move which I’m fairly sure will evaporate with a pop of the ears when I’m air-ward bound and reality kicks in.
My preparation has been rather hit and miss lately, including some unexpected incidents to which my cool and calm response has surprised some (aforementioned aloofness). For instance, last night my phone evaporated into thin air while at the pub with my friends. It’s covered by our home contents insurance but my new one won’t arrive before I go- enter DHL. Don’t get me wrong, I am annoyed. It’s a hassle considering the timing; there are photos of my family and cat that I had collected over the last few weeks to get me through home sickness and the most ingeniously useful apps -Wiktionary and an English-Russian dictionary- all gone. But at the end of the day, it’s just a phone and I’m not going to get het up about it.
On a brighter note, my travel cash card has arrived from mytravelcash which will enable me to draw out my roubles with no ATM charges (other providers available but I found this one to be best for me). I’ve been to the dentist for my annual check up and have survived yet another year with no fillings. I’ve spent the last two weekends with my extended family eating an ungodly amount of banoffee pie and having lots of love and luck wished upon me. My cousin (yeah yeah, shameless promotion) and I had a quaint picnic at Iford Manor and I’ve been spending as much time with home friends as possible before I leave. How could one walkabout phone get me down after all this?
And most excitingly, I’ve had my accommodation confirmed and it turns out that there weren’t enough potential хозяйки in Voronezh this year so I had the option of being placed in a flatshare with Russian students instead! What an opportunity! Obviously I jumped at the chance.
Tomorrow, my Mum’s taken the day off work to help me pack (tense times ahead from both perspectives). If I can survive until the zip is closed and the luggage tag is on, then there’s nothing Russia can throw at me that I can’t handle.
Feature image copyright College Humor.