Well here’s to my last night in Saint Petersburg. I have to wake up at the ungodly hour of 2:00 am in only a few hours, but at this moment I couldn’t care less. I just need a moment to take it all in. All four months. What an adventure I’ve been through. I remember freshman year of college when an advisor at Madison told me to see the world early in life and then become an adult in my 30s. I will forever hold her words close to my heart. I’ve not only learned to embrace other cultures, but I’ve learned to embrace my own. I’ve really come to understand who I am during my stay in this country, and what values I, as an individual, hold dear in life.
I’ve made new friends from all over the world, and each one of them have helped me develop into the person I am at this moment. I’ve gained a new confidence in myself, that I didn’t think was possible. Despite the fact that making mistakes in this frustrating language still makes me sometimes cringe, I’m so happy with my progress. And I’m so grateful that I possess the ability to laugh at myself when I do make mistakes. I now know that going through life with a frown and crease lines is not something I want to be remembered for.
However, more than anything, I want to thank my host grandmother, Marina Nikolaevna Silenko, for her tremendously kind and patient heart. She was, without a doubt, the best teacher of Russian I’ve ever had. She always greeted me at the end of the day with a cup of tea and a plate of hot, homemade food, and every day she was ready to listen to me complain or gossip. Marina instilled in me an incredible love of sour cream and well, I guess anything dairy related. We teased each other relentlessly, but we always knew when enough was enough, and we ended almost every day with a hug. I’m going to incredibly miss her smiling face and the face of every single one of her family members that welcomed me with open hearts and minds. Goodness, it’s quite hard not to write all this without tearing up, but you know what? I think that just goes to show that I have two families now on opposite ends of the world, and now the world really doesn’t seem so big.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson