Moving On

I leave for Oklahoma in less than 48 hours. CRAZY. Most people in my situation would be focusing on packing and getting TFA reading out of the way (to be fair, I’m done reading, just haven’t finished all my follow-up writing assignments) , but of course, I got sidetracked with a special project.

Ever since I came home from Russia, I have missed Polina’s (former exchange student who I stayed with the whole time in Russia) brother, Nikita. He is only about a year and a half older than me and has already gone through a lot of the things I am going through now- moving away from home, finding a place to live by yourself, balancing a full workload, etc. Every day I wish I could talk to him about my anxiety, excitement, and fears about the big move, or just have him distract me with stupid jokes (when you can’t speak someone else’s language too well, hilarity will ensue). Unfortunately, we can just communicate enough through charades and a few words here and there in person, but written and voice communication won’t really be possible until we understand each other’s languages better.

I was sad about this for awhile after I got back from my trip. There was so much more I wanted to talk to him about, but instead it was off on a train to Moscow, and then later a plane back to Orlando. After a couple weeks of semi-moping, I decided to do something about how I felt by sending him a present. Choosing a gift was still tricky due to the language barrier, but eventually I came up with something awesome.

::Prepare for the Awesomeness::

One of the conversations I did have with Nikita in Saint Petersburg was how much he liked Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios when he had visited here in 2000. I combined that interest with our language struggle and developed an ABC book of things found around the park. For each item, I wrote down the word translated in Russian to hold up in the picture I took at the park. This way, the ABC book serves as an english tutor and a Russian/English dictionary. I had to get creative with a lot of the words (thanks to those who made suggestions for tricky letters!), and taking the pictures on Wednesday was a nightmare with the on and off again downpours. Me and Dan (my brother-in-law who took all the photos) kept running to get pictures in between storms or re-staging shots under overhangs to avoid messing up the Russian signs. It got a bit ridiculous, but once the rain let up, we were able to power through a good chunk of the remaining shots.

I put the pictures together in a scrapbook tonight, and also added some extra pages with messages in Russian, pictures from my time in Saint Petersburg, and a CD of primarily instrumental music from movies (most of the movies included I know he likes, and he really likes soundtrack music…this seemed like a good way to go given the lack of english in instrumental music). You can view a video of the completed project (including my translations) below:

I can’t tell you how proud I am of this book. It forced me to practice my Russian, let me do something nice for someone else, and also allowed me to get my feelings out creatively when I can’t rely on talking. Now that this is done, I can move on from missing Russia, the families I met there, and Nikita, and focus on what’s to come. Oklahoma? Let’s do this.

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