Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pre-departure nostalgia

I leave for Vermont two weeks from Monday, and this fact has been slowly dawning on me all week, resulting in the phenomenon I call pre-departure nostalgia (anyone know if there's a real name for it?). This is when all of the mundane, day-to-day things I do suddenly become very precious and special to me, and I realize how much I'm going to miss them. For example, last night I walked home from yoga, and I thought about how, for a whole year, I will not walk that route; I won't see the beautiful trees blooming in the spring, or see the little kids playing at the elementary school playground. Or I think about how I'm going to miss my morning routine with my kitty, and I wonder if, after a month, she'll have forgotten about me completely (probably true). And of course, what I'll miss most of all are my relationships: with Jon, with my friends, with my bosses, with my professors. Of course, we'll probably all still maintain contact, but I know from my last experience abroad that relationships are just different when you're so far apart; people and relationships and places change when separated from each other by time and distance.

I'm not saying I don't want to go, or that I'm not going to have a fantastic time and have amazing new experiences in Russia, even though part of me says "Wait! What are you thinking? You're happy and comfortable here, why would you leave??" I know Iowa City will be here when I get back, and I'll enjoy getting reacquainted with my surroundings upon my return. For now, I'm just savoring every moment, creating memories that will help sustain me when things are rough away from home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Test post/ Pre-departure countdown

Well, folks, some of you may be back for Round 2 of my blogging adventures as I make my way back to the Motherland (thanks for keeping up with me!). This time around, I'll be spending nine weeks this summer in a full-immersion Russian program at Middlebury College in Vermont as a "warm up" to a subsequent nine months back in St. Petersburg, Russia on the Flagship program.

The Middlebury program is pretty neat; here's a link to the website:

What's extra-special about Middlebury is that you sign a language pledge when you arrive, promising not to use any language but Russian for the whole nine weeks-- no music, movies, books, or conversation that isn't in Russian. How will I update my blog, you ask? Luckily for me, the Middlebury program understands that contact with home is necessary, so they ask that we keep any English usage to a minimum and not to disrupt others' language pledges by speaking too loudly on the phone, etc. Thus, I plan on "cheating" for a few minutes each week, because it's important to me to stay in touch with all of you! I will be in class 4-5 hours a day Monday through Friday, and they told us to anticipate 4-6 hours of homework a day. Yikes! However, I hope it won't be too overwhelming, and that I'll have time to participate in some of the co-curricular activities offered by the program (since you can't interact in languages other than Russian, they set up myriad activities within the Russian school, like theatre, radio, cooking club (yay!!!), yoga (double yay!!!), chess club, literary club, etc).

I'm also hoping I get a good roommate. I haven't had a randomly-assigned roommate since freshmen year. When I sent in my acceptance materials, I got to tell them on a little yellow card that I like to get up early and work out-- but that's not much information to base a match on! I'm sure it'll be fine (and it's only nine weeks, if nothing else), but it's still in the back of my mind.

After Middlebury ends on August 15th, I'll head straight to Washington, DC for Flagship orientation on the 18th. But more about that as it gets closer!

So I have this thing about getting ready to go waaaaay to far in advance. I think it's really a way of dealing with nerves. I spent all of yesterday packing up the clothes I don't want to take to Middlebury or Russia and "practice packing" my Middlebury bag (I'm going to need a bigger suitcase). As silly as it seems (even to me) to pack and then unpack an entire three weeks early, I know I'll feel better later having run through it once already.

I'm quite excited to kick off my year of Russian study with a three-day visit to Kerry in New Haven, Connecticut. Kerry and I met on my last study abroad experience, and her dry humor got me through many tough days that year!

I don't know how much I'll be posting before I leave Iowa City, but keep checking back-- I'd love to hear from you!