Cheese Curds and Nerves

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

I finally said goodbye to my co-workers this week. I hate goodbyes. I feel as if the past few weeks have been a series of strenuous goodbyes. Goodbye grandma. Goodbye mom. Goodbye dad. Goodbye friends. I’ll only be gone a few months; however, these goodbyes seem to last a lifetime.

I’ll be flying out to Washington D.C. in a few days for a study abroad orientation, and I can already feel the butterflies in my stomach. I’ve been so busy working and saying my goodbyes, and it really hasn’t hit me that I’ll be gone soon. Yesterday was my last day in Madison before I returned to my hometown to say goodbye to my parents. Of course, I waited until the last day to pack, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed in my life. So many questions whirled about in my mind. What kind of adapter do I need for my electronics? What kind of voltage hairdryers do they use in Russia? How many pairs of pants do I need? How can I possibly make my suitcase weigh less than 50 lbs?! Do all women in Russia really wear high heels in the dead of winter?


I finally had to take a step back from packing and peruse my Saint Petersburg travel book. My stress quickly dissipated, and I became lost in wonderful daydreams. In less than a week I’ll be greeted by my host mother Marina Nikolaevna Silenko. Marina lives with her husband Igor Konstantinovich, and they are both in their seventies. Marina is a retired accountant, and Igor used to be a geologist. The apartment itself is located in one of the best areas in Saint Petersburg, not far from one of the most popular historical sites—Smolny Cathedral. I’ve already stalked their neighborhood and apartment building via the street view of Google maps. I know where the аптеки(pharmacies) and рестораны(restaurants) in my neighborhood are. However, I won’t lie—I’m still slightly nervous. I’ve barely used my Russian at all over winter break, and I know it is a bit rusty. I just know I’m going to accidentally say something offensive, so I’m traveling to Russia with this motto:  Be inquisitive and apologize quickly.

Well, packing may have been a pain, but I finally finished! I’m scared to weigh my luggage, because I know it’s going to be beyond the airline’s weight limit of 50 lbs, yet I could really care less at the moment. I’m going to spend my last few days in the U.S. cramming my face with Culvers and cheese curds. Priorities, right?