It is now three days until I depart for my semester in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the feelings of anticipation, anxiety, and excitement are coming like waves. I always expected that my last few days in America with my family would be some of the toughest, but while I am nervous, I am stoked.
I’m leaving the United States for the first time ever. Of course I hear about culture shock, especially concerning Russia, but to experience it is an entirely different game. I have taken Russian history classes and have seen the sights in print, but to think that in less than a week I will be there, is still pretty unbelievable. I chose St. Petersburg because I took a history class in college that made me realize I basically knew nothing about Russia.
That being said, I am anxious about traveling to a foreign country that I am unfamiliar with. My school does not offer Russian as a foreign language so I have no Russian language training at all. One thing that makes me nervous is the minute I step off the plane in St. Petersburg and hear Russian being spoken all around me, yet I will not have a clue what anyone is saying.
I am also deeply fearing the moment when I will turn the corner into security in the departing airport and have to leave my family for four months. While I will be excited about getting started on this whirlwind adventure, leaving my family and all the people I love will be rough.
Now aside from the departure stressors, it’s time to address the exciting times to come! I was accepted to the program 8 months ago, yet I am still having a hard time realizing that I am going to study abroad in Russia. I consider myself the introverted type and I never thought I could be daring enough to do a semester abroad, so this is especially bold for me. I chose to apply to study abroad in St. Petersburg because, as a History major, my interest was piqued after just one Russian history class. I am so glad that I chose the AIFS program because of all the great bonus excursions and activities. While I’m abroad, I hope to feed my appetite for history by visiting museums, libraries, monuments and more that will help immerse me in Russian culture. Four months is a decent amount of time to live in a foreign country and honestly, I could not be more excited to get out and see the world.
Just three more days…