Thursday, March 15, 2012

Half-time Highlights

I can't believe how quickly my time here is flying...I blinked and suddenly I: a) can now speak conversational Russian; b) can sprint up six flights of stairs in about 45 seconds; and, c) have less time left in Russia then the time that has elapsed since I landed January 19.  PANIC!  Please, reset the clock! I wanna do it again!!

And what a great feeling to have, right? How many countless experiences have I had where I have looked back with regret, questioned my actions, my motivations, my interactions with others...not the case on this trip.  I boarded the plane with too much chaos in my life to create space for expectations, and the result of my lack of direction has been an open mind to try new things, meet new people, and sleep on a plywood board.  OK.  The last one may not seem to exciting, but it's actually way more comfortable than the Russian answer to American style spring mattresses.

Here's a quick overview of the best of the best things I have had a chance to do over the past seven weeks:

Getting to know the other George Mason students here on the FIPSE grant.  Love them all, dearly.

Tema and I cooking up Cincinnati Skyline Chili
Becoming friends with my two room mates, Masha and Tema.  They are amazing.  Their 3rd room mate, Anya, is currently studying on the FIPSE exchange at George Mason- they lost a roomie to GMU, and got one in return.  Meeting them, getting to cook, clean, hang out, chat, paint our nails, go walking, and gossip has absolutely been one of the best parts of this experience.

Getting to know the other international students.  Living with over 30 people from different countries from all around the globe has broadened my world view (and my culinary palate).

 Ice skating at Patriarch's Pond.

Ice skating fun!

Walking around Gorky Park.

GULAG Museum.

Fighting with the laundry machines.  Really.  After awhile it's just funny to have less functional washers than broken.

My Social Geography of Post-Soviet States class.  Amazing.  I will try to blog a bit about the lectures in detail.  Really, really helpful.

Ice hole swimming!!!!

Getting to walk around Moscow with my Russian friends and practice all of my vocabulary.

Learning Russian!

Practicing Russian and looking like a moron in public- a little humility is always good.

Above all else, just coming here and proving to myself that I can thrive in climates previously unimaginable- not just the weather, but away from my partner and family for so long- has been incredibly liberating.  The experience of coming here without a preset agenda, without any sort of goal beyond enjoying myself and challenging myself to grow has given me space to learn about others, and get to know myself better in the process.

So, so glad I came.

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