Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shantel Simmons Krasnoyarsk, Russia Summer 2012

So Much to Tell…
The Church of Spilled Blood, Saint Petersburg
                It is impossible to know where to start describing my study abroad experience with the University of Utah, because so much happened in such a short time!  I could start with the new friends that I met and will never forget, or the delicious food that I ate every day, or the excursions around the cities and across the country.  I could start with my incredible host family and how my language skills improved immensely thanks to the classes and full immersion, or even the crazy things that happened to me while I was away from home!  But I think I will just begin with my Russian adventure in general and the fact that I still cannot believe I spent two months living and travelling around that beautiful and massive country, while meeting some of the most incredible people along the way.
A statue of Shakespeare in New York
                The adventure really began at the Salt Lake City airport when I met up with my flight buddy.  It was amazing how easily we got along and how we had so much in common!  From then on she became my travel buddy, by rooming buddy, my shopping buddy, and my talking buddy.  Neither of us had ever been to New York, which was our first stop.  I have no other way to explain it except for insanity, but we thought (for some reason) that it would be a good idea to take a taxi into the city and see some sights during our nine-hour layover.  Just as a side I should probably specify that we had just packed our lives in our luggage and our carry-ons weighed as much as we did. Essentially our little trip consisted of a few pictures, a lot of sitting, walking, and more sitting, along with the realization that we knew very little about American poetry.  The next thing we knew we were on a ten-hour flight to our destination—Mother Russia.
Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow
A monument in the Moscow Expo Center
                Upon arrival we were regretting how much we packed as we made our way through the underground tunnels, stairs (hate stairs), and escalators of the infamous Moscow metro.  We could hardly focus as we admired the beautiful architecture and artwork that filled the ceilings and halls.  Soon, with the help of our generous friends, we made it to the hostel.  During the next few days we anxiously anticipated flying to Siberia from Moscow and meeting our new host families for the next two months, but our director Yulia was not about to let us sit around and wait—it was time to see the city! If you do not already know, the speed of Russian walking is equivalent to American jogging, but the sites of Moscow were too breathtaking to complain.  We saw the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s body, the Church of Christ the Savior, and much more.  It was an incredible experience, but nothing compared to what we would encounter in Krasnoyarsk.
A toilet we paid to use in Irkutsk, Siberia
The Kremlin, Moscow

                When we flew into the city we could not believe our eyes as lush green trees and mountains replaced the monuments and buildings of Moscow.  We drove to our new university for the summer and met the most wonderful woman who became our close friend and mentor.  It was sad to see all of my friends leave for their new adventures with their host families, and even more sad that my family did not come to get me!  It turned out they lived very close to the university and once I got to their home (and freaking way delicious Russian food was on the table for me), I realized my decision to study abroad to Russia with the University of Utah was the best decision I had probably ever made.  My new family spoke no English and they LOVED to talk!  Every evening we talked for hours, listened to music, watched Russian television, met with their friends, family, and neighbors, and went on our own excursions together.  It was incredibly sad when I had to leave for a week to go to Lake Baikal (which was possibly the most awesome excursion in history ever), and it was literally devastating when we had to finally say good bye.  After Krasnoyarsk my new group of friends and I travelled to St. Petersburg, which is one of the most culturally astounding and beautiful cities in the world, and then back to Moscow where we bought souvenirs and prepared for our journey home.  I will never forget this study abroad experience and I will return to Russia again, so I hope my flight buddy is ready when I decide to leave again.
A sunset in Krasnoyarsk

No comments:

Post a Comment