It’s been almost a month since I left home, and I have yet to experience any real culture shock. Some things have required adjusting, but when is anything ever stagnant anyway? The lack of culture shock is, well, shocking. I don’t know how to properly describe this feeling, but since I got here, I feel like I’m home. I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out why everything’s been so easy, and recently it hit me: all my worlds have suddenly collapsed, collided, and unfolded before me.
Here in Saint Petersburg, I have four friends from Glastonbury, all of whom I’ve met up with already. Incidentally, I’ve run into one friend (Nick/Nikolai/Nicholas Nub) four times in passing. In the eight years or so that we’ve been friends, I don’t think I’ve run into him that much in Glastonbury. Then, I have friends from Georgetown. Although my closest friends are abroad in different cities, it’s still reassuring to have familiar faces from DC. Whenever I’m at home, I can’t help but miss my friends from school and visa versa, but somehow here I don’t feel that tension. I even have a few Russian friends from our high school exchange… and seeing Dasha for the first time in three years was absolutely one of the highlights of my experience so far. Her English is (somehow) even better than before, and there’s something about her that’s so mature, composed, and yet the same exact person I remember. We’ve promised to make a real effort to spend time with each other while I’m here, and I’m so excited to get the chance.
Then there’s family. I can’t say I have any relatives in Russia right now, but sometimes they don’t feel so far away. Like this morning, my host mom made me eggs and who knew? It was the same Egg-‘N-Bread my grandma makes! I looked at the frying pan, saw two pieces of bread with egg cooking in the middle, and told her how I’ve had that before. She shook her head and pointed to a glass, indicating that she uses a cup to make the hole in the bread—which is exactly what my grandma does. I told her that, and she could barely believe me, because she thought she’d made it up! But little things like that make the 4,177 miles separating me from my family seem not so long at all. Of course, home can also be quite stressful, and I think the absence of that stress helps to alleviate culture shock. Here, I’m so well taken care of by my host mom, without any real responsibility, that it’s almost a retreat to childhood– but in a good way. It’s freeing.
If you can be in love with a city, with everything in your life, I think I am. And if you can be home 4177 miles away from your house, I think I am as well. I’m so terribly scared for this to end, and it inevitably and quickly will, but I’m going to try really hard to not let that fear keep me from taking risks and falling in love with everything around me. I know leaving here will actually break my heart, but I’m going to trust that, at the end of it all, it’ll be worth it.
“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”