Monday, September 3, 2012

россия love...

I realized I hadn't blogged since the end of last fall semester...almost a year I got on just for the heck of it and found something that really made me smile :) 

While I was in Russia I didn't take my own computer (it was old, unreliable, and about 500 lbs. That wasn't about to happen, especially since I was more than 20 lbs over the weight limit for my luggage already). I had an iPad but that was impossible to do anything on because I didn't have good wifi. Most of the time I didn't have any wifi at all. I would borrow my sister Dasha's laptop, but the internet was so slow at our house that I could hardly do anything on it.

...I promise I'm getting to my main point...

I just got on and saw that I had a post draft, clicked on it, and found these next few paragraphs. Let's just say I couldn't stop smiling (and not just because it's labor day weekend either). I'm sad that I wasn't able to blog more about my experience, but I'm going to add on a few things as well (even though I've already been home for 3 months).

Well here it goes.


Yes, I said it. Russia.
I have no idea...but I'm here. & have been since I flew out of the SLC International Airport early on January 26th 2012.

& let's just say that every day has been an adventure so far. A fantastaic, educational, stressful, cold...bitter cold, full of carbs & chocolate adventure.

I am here teaching young minds. I heard about ILP (International Language Program) last spring sememster & made an executive decision that I was going to be a part of it. From the time I made that decision (~May 2011) until about November 2011 I kept going back and forth..."should I go?...nah, I'll just stay home." "I can't wait to go!" "There's no way I will survive." "This is going to be the best experience EVER!"...ya let's just say that it reminds me of the clip in Tangled when she couldn't decide if she wanted to go see the lights or not. I know you all know what clip I'm talking about.

{"I can't help but notice that you seem a little at war with yourself..." Flynn Rider}


I'm here. & below are some of my captured memories. Enjoy.

(**ya, so this is all I had typed while I was there. I think the reason it made me smile so big was because I could see exactly where I was, sitting on my bed in my house, with Dash in the room next to me watching her Russian tv, & the memory just kind of flooded my mind. Anywho, those paragraphs were pretty informative right? Wrong! Pitiful. Pathetic. That's what it is. HA ya soooooo the rest will be what I'm adding now...3 month later. and if nothing else, it will be great for me to just relive my experience, because it was, without a doubt, one the theeee best things I have ever done in my entire life.**)

Getting to Russia, not knowing whether or not my host family was going to speak any English, trying to figure out how to lesson plan (UGH), not know what to expect AT ALL, and having the fact that I knew absolutely NO russian slapped me in the face pretty hard {OUCH!}. It was a crazy first couple weeks.

But, like everything else in my life, it all worked out. Pretty positive I've got a good friend upstairs always looking out for me. Thank goodness.

& it was quite the ride. Ups, downs, sideways-es... and let's be honest, every other possible direction life could take, mine took while I was in the motherland of Russia. But I found that, even though I was only there for 4.5 months, I grew more in that time than I could have ever possibly imagined.

This is the person that changed my life the most while I was there. This, ladies and gentleman, is Dasha. She will forever and always be my second, and only russian might i add, sister. & let me tell you, we sure acted like sisters from day 1.
 She drove me nuts...I drove her up the wall. We told each other everything. We saw all of each other's flaws, and every single one each other's strengths. She saw me ball my eyes out on multiple occasions. I helped her when she didn't know what else to do.I helped her with her English homework, she helped me with my Russian. She taught me how to tell the bus drivers to stop at my stop, how to order in restaurants, say happy birthday, good morning, goodnight, how to read the alphabet, count to ten, and the list could go on. She was there whenever I needed her, which, let's be honest, was a lot.

I was a lost little Oakliete girl in a very new way of life. & a very new city (Voronezh, Russia baby!).

She is one of my most favorite Russians.

(You might be thinking..."seriously? how many russians do you run into and meet on a daily basis? How can she be "one of" them."
Valid question.
None. (besides the random Russian that I met the week after I got back in park city working at american eagle. What in the world?? What are the odds of that happening?).

But while I was there I met a lot of amazing Russians. & I miss those crazy people (periods added for emphasis).

Shout out!
Привет сумасшедшие дети!

(WARNING! This is going to be a long blog. Trying to wrap up 4 and a half months here people. Feel free to leave the premises at any time, BUT just know that you're probably going to miss out on some life changing stories & pictures & what not...or not. Whatev).

Ang & I the second day we got to Voronezh. Trying (<-- KEY WORD) to lesson plan. It was awful, & one of those things that luckily got easier.
Dash & I in "our spots" in our kitchen.
Tea & sweets (with AMERICAN PEANUT BUTTER!!!...Dash would constantly ask if she could just smell it. She loved that stuff).
Every.single.night. This was our ritual.

In Renae's cold that we would wear our parkas. & would still freeze. {ugh}
The whole group (minus marc)
LtoR: Angie, myself, Renae, Camberley, Andrew, & Lacie

My walk to the bus stop
My front door
After a long day, almost nothing else made me as happy as seeing my house with the lights on in the kitchen.
(That would be my daily greeting from my mom :) eat & tea were the only English words she knew)

My home <3

Myself with two of the best people I know. Elder & Sister Frost. 
I'll love them forever.

Now...let's sit down and chat about food...just for a second or two.

Russia has some uhhhh-mazing food.
1) their hot dogs are bomb
2) their borsch (cabbage soup) is to die for (especially momma lida's)
3) their chocolate is the reason I gained weight
4) my mom's cakes are amazing (she made this for my "half birthday." What an amazing woman. maybe this added to the hips as well ;) )
& 5) their yogurt was consumed almost every single day by, none other than, myself. pretty sure I was the reason they were staying in business.
Me & Natash in her room. GIRL'S NIGHT! Love this 15 year old <3
Now that's a wheel of cheese. Aint nobody cuttin' this cheese
These were the steps I nervously walked up before I got my hair cut..luckily, nothing too extreme happened to my mane.

Happy 8th of March! Women's day.
{me & my fabulous parents}
I use to be I have a moustache. 

Sushi TIME!!! EAT DEM FISH! A sister favorite. Especially on girls nights out.
{Dash would always get the most disgusting looking ones...nothing but caviar & an egg yolk on top was one of her favorites. gross}
There is nothing like a sunset in me spoiled, because I was. I got to see this every night out of my bedroom window.
{gather in a circle}

You see those two passports? Ya, me too. The russian one is obviously Dasha's & the US one is, well, you guessed it, mine. 

The group of teachers were getting ready to go to Moscow on VACA! 
Well, you need your passport, especially if you're a tourist.
So I go to grab mine out of my bag to give it to the coordinating teacher in charge.
{digging, digging...ugh, must be at home.} 
Go home....
literally tear my room apart. Afterwards it looked like a tornado had run into the hulk and they had a nice get together and had a good chat over brunch.

{my insides freaking out...practically gnawing my finger off from nerves...searching EVERYWHERE i could think of}

*side note: you can get a new passport...but it's very expensive & would mean I wouldn't be able to go on vaca. 

still nothing.
They gave me one more day to keep looking and praying that I would find it.
so i'm home again after teaching. stressed.

The next night it HIT ME! like lightning coming down from above.

Kelsey's conscience, "Maybe you should check your little hang bag?"
Kelsey, "Why the heck would it be in there?"
Kelsey's conscience, "Just check."

"OH MY HECK!!! YES YES YES YES YES!!! {arms flailing, screaming at the top of my lungs, throwing my passport on the floor in Dash's room, then proceeding to throw myself on her floor in a relieved, happy to be alive way, then getting up and dancing around...a lot. The whole time dash was watching me like I had lost my mind...and momma lida came in looking a little worried too. don't blame her.} 
Then it hit me...again. I had put my passport in that hang bag so I WOULD NOT FORGET where it was. Let's just say that that idea backfired.

BUT everything, once again, worked out just fine and I was able to go to Moscow on vaca. 
hallelujah. flippin great.
A much needed, teacher bonding, vacation.

But all great vacations must, unfortunately, come to an end...
{pretty positive I would be a great professional vacationer. Do they have that major at UVU? anybody know?}

So back to school we went.
April 14th.
One of the best days there.

Why? You might ask? It was the first day since being in beloved russia that I didn't have to wear a coat or big boots. 
Kind of a big deal.
"I will not be part of the system!!"
{snl fans, you'll understand}

*side note: Russians have the most gorgeous eyes. If anyone dare challenge me to that statement, just take a look at Vladik's magnificent blue eyes. no.effects.added. That's right. Back down.

BANANA boat time. Introducing dash to this heaven on earth. Let's just say she loved it. 
There's nothing like the feeling of being thought of & loved 7000 miles away <3 

 My package brought some serious smiles even with all the crud that was going on in my life at that time.

hahahaha I hope you're laughing as hard as I am.
This is probably the face I would pull too if I was a 5 year old in a balloon room.
Thank you little dashA for providing the laughs that are still coming into my life today.

Time to celebrate May 9th...Russia's Victory Day.

Air time baby...once again. spoiled. 

So you know how I just said I was spoiled?

continuing on with that thought. 
{& you know what? maybe blessed is a better word to be using. Either way, I think I'm pretty darn lucky}

SAINT PETERSBURG vaca was up next.

First, & I really hope it's not my last, train ride <3
no, we are not the avengers, though this photo makes it look like we should be

Yes, yes I do love Petersburg. And always will. This large, magnificently built and designed, cold, filled with fabulous metros, and monkey housing city will forever hold a very special place in my heart. It was, once again, a time of a lot of growing and learning for this little chica. guessed it, back to school we go.

Said slavyk...the boy I couldn't say no to.
Who told me he loved me while sitting on the toilet.
Yes, it made me ball.
Like a baby.

{teaching the older kids who Darth Vader is...& that my car is also named Darth}
That's the important stuff right? Good. Glad we agree.

Now, please enjoy some of the faces that I got to enjoy almost every, single, day.
Spoiled? Yes. Didn't we already establish that?
{that does not mean that I never wanted to wring their little necks though...they are children ;)}

But boy are they adorable.

Business in the front.
Party in the back.
They've definitely got that down.
Matvey-the 7 year old that I couldn't help but have a crush on. Weird? Get over it. Look at that face.

I miss those crazy, energy-filled, rowdy boys. There's just something about them.
okay gorgeous sunset. Usually I can NEVER capture a sunset & be happy with it, but Stella really stepped up and made me a proud momma. This gorgeousness was caught right after a rain storm while waiting at my bus stop.

DARTH?!?! no. good guess though. It's his russian twin Vanya.
These two wonderful women taught me so much & made me love them the first day I met them.
too much of my time was spent on these odor-filled, muggy, crammed, dirty buses

MY FIRST BIG MAC was consumed in the motherland. & I loved it <3

{*please excuse my mother's underwear}
Where we would hang our clothes to dry...stiff & hard.
Loved coming home to a dryer.
some of those crazy russian kids I was talking about. 
Vali and Max.
my Russian peeps (and Andrew)
My family rocks. Amazing people.

Saying goodbye to this girl was one of the hardest things I've ever done. 

See you soon Dash.

Well, if any of you are still with me here to the end, kudos to you. Let's be honest, not sure I could have done that if I were you. I'd give you some russian chocolate if I could, but, as you all have probably guessed, I ate it. {oops. hitting the road tomorrow for a nice marathon or two to run it off}. 

& I know none of these stories or pictures mean much to any of you, but they are insights to some of my most memorable and life changing experiences. {in a nut shell}

Traveling is definitely one thing that can make a person richer than they could ever imagine. 

Even when life feels hectic, unbearable, depressing, stressful, unknown, scary, or whatever other adjective you'd like to throw in there, it does go on.
& if you choose to let it, it can make you grow in ways you never thought possible. 

Who'd have ever known Russia would become my home and always hold a piece of my heart.
I never, ever, would have guessed it.
Not in a million years.

That just goes to show that you never really know where life's gonna take you. So take hold and smile through every adventure.

 <3 пока мы не встретимся снова,

Kelsey, the Russian