Ch ch ch changes

I’ve been home for just over a week now and have had many opportunities to share my experiences in Russia.  The one thing I always tell everyone is that the trip was life changing.  Now that may sound overdrammatic, but visiting another country can do that.  I appreciate things I have here more.  Russia isn’t a barren wasteland or a small village, but the standard of living is not the same as the U.S.  Public restrooms are extremely small and not very well kept, parking lots are a rare thing to find (even at popular establishments), elevators fit a maximum of four people if everyone smushes together, living in a house is extremely rare, and some apartment hallways look like a place where you could buy crack in the U.S., but when you step into someone’s apartment, it’s the most beautiful room you’ve ever seen (at least equivalent to rooms in my house, but most of the time even better looking).

Below are two videos of the apartment I stayed at in St. Petersburg post-fire damage from 6 months ago.  In the first video, you see the hallway damage and then the nice individual room inside (so pretty).  The second video shows you the individual room in detail, and the shared kitchen and bathroom (note the bucket I mention later in the entry is shown here) areas.

I expected some of these things…others surprised me.  But what I found most interesting was how kind the people are.  Families welcome you into their home and cook you multiple course dinners upon arrival.  People sleep on the couch-turned-bed in a hallway just to make sure you get the nicest room in the apartment (even though you are already grateful to avoid paying for a hotel).  I always felt like the attitude there was “how can I make this place your home?” where in the U.S. it is more “how can I make space for you in my home?”  I was overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness I was shown everywhere we went.

Something else that was interesting about the trip was me.  From the moment I stepped off the plane, I became very easy going and okay with whatever was thrown my way (not your typical Kelly).  Running through train stations, climbing roofs, eating fish with the scales left on, walking endlessly through the streets of St. Petersburg, being shown the bucket of water to use in the bathroom “just in case” the plumbing had problems…nothing really phased me.  I just felt very fortunate to stay with various people and explore the country with Polina and her family.  I adopted the motto “If you’re not dying, your fine” pretty quickly, and then just went along with whatever happened.  And really, I loved it and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Nikita, Valeriya, and Me on the Roof

Roof Climbing in St. Petersburg with Nikita and Valeriya

Now, a trip can’t be life changing without changing your life, so here are a few habits I’ve picked up since being back:

1) I now drink hot tea daily, if not twice daily, and LOVE it.  Greenfield’s Kenyan Sunrise is currently my favorite.
2) I take a 3 mile (about an hour) walk every night when the sun starts to go down just to get moving.  Sitting at a desk all day is really hard after walking everywhere for ten days, and even watching TV causes me some restlessness (3 weeks ago me would have been like WHAT?????).
3) Lightly salted cucumber slices is now a popular snack of choice.
4) I don’t try to make food more plain, and have had several sandwiches and salads since I’ve come back without making any adjustments (for those who do not know me well, I always plain things down when I order- pasta with sauce on the side, hamburgers plain, just cheese and meat on sandwiches, etc.).
5) I am making time every day to learn more Russian vocabulary.  I really want to go back and visit, and I know learning more of the language would make it more enjoyable to communicate with all the people I encounter.  I’m even practicing reading it : )

I know, nothing TOO major, but this is just the beginning.  I leave for Oklahoma in less than 2 weeks.  My life is about to change in many ways, and I’m really excited about it.  I took on Russia and loved it.  Now, I can take on anything.

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3 Comments to “Ch ch ch changes”

  1. So proud of you Kelly! I’m glad Russia had such an impact on you and shook up your comfort zone a bit. I can’t wait to hear more about it.

  2. very interesting! thanks for the post. I met a Russian over Thanksgiving weekend and was very captivated by the stories of her homeland. It’s an interesting country that I knew little about a year ago.

  3. not ordering things plain? WHAT WHAT?!

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