An article written for my uni's (National Research Tomsk State University) blog.
I received the opportunity to study in Russia. But honestly I didn't know much about Russia except the surface bits about frozen landscapes, heavy accents, and vodka. Those aren't constants, so I really didn't know anything about Russia. I googled like any good netizen. I began with "Russia", then moved onto searching for the experiences of others. The search continued as I read a little about the international relations of Russia, and also about the connections between Russian universities and those of other countries. I found quite a bit of information and became rather comfortable with the idea of studying in Russia. But I was still uncertain. Offline I spoke to persons who are more experienced, and who are also openminded. Their enthusiasm, mixed with their unbiased and realistic assessments pushed me to take the opportunity.
I arrived in Krasnoyarsk in mid-October. It was rather chilly, and soon after it began to snow. I am absolutely enthralled by snow, and I was out of my skin with excitement almost everyday as I stared at it through my window. I don't like the cold. So I didn't do much exploring, instead I surrounded myself with international students, and visitors who shared more with me than simply having moved to Russia. This for me is a belief in God. In this niche I found the comfort to reach out to Russians of the same or like interests. Without realizing it I became extremely comfortable with the city and the differences.
But I won't say it was easy. It wasn't. I am inherently afraid of doing anything I've never done before. But the desire to meet these new, exciting, yet familiar people was stronger than my fear. So I caught the bus to unknown places, and walked through the forest until I became extremely comfortable with the thought of going everywhere and anywhere in Krasnoyarsk on my own, with the help of a few applications of course: 2GIS, KrasBus, and Google Maps. That was all during winter, and then it was summer. Oh, how I love summer. I walked here, there, everywhere, morning, night, noon. I walked and became completely comfortable in my skin. I finally felt as though it was my city.
And then I moved to Tomsk.
I stayed inside for two days and then I was off to the races. The same basic method of meeting persons with similar likes was used. However this time, these people were simply travellers with a desire to see Russia for themselves. And desire beat fear to a pulp as I have no memory of ever being afraid of the many things I've experienced and places I've been. It was still summer, so I also had the opportunity to walk a lot. To me, it is one of the most personal ways to become familiar with any place. My walks have encompassed Lenin Avenue, Altai Street, Brawler's (Buyanov) Lane, Emerald City, and other areas. After all my morning, and evening walks I feel rather comfortable in Tomsk.
But classes are about to start and I am really anxious about them. I know I'll be learning a lot, not simply about the topics which will be covered in classes but also in the way of vocabulary. I've already received some of my textbooks. And I'm a bit at a lost on the first pages, the first paragraphs to be honest. But I am also excited to overcome the language barrier. I can't wait to converse with native Russians like a native Russian. That thought makes me hopeful, and happy.
I am not always in this mindset however. At times I endure feelings of sadness, defeat, depression, failure, and others. I don't have the antidote but reminding myself about why I'm here always gives my the energy to push harder. My success here will be meaningful for me, but more so for my little brother, mother, grandmother, and half-sister (who also wishes to be a writer). Failing will hurt them so much more. So I keep this with me for when I'm down, and I fight no matter what.