Last Words: Yaroslavl

May 19, 2012

What was the best part of living in Yaroslavl?

I really loved that Yaroslavl gave me a chance to experience city living without the intensity of Moscow or Petersburg. Not having lived in a city before, it was nice to ease into this second, unexpected culture shock. Plus, Yaroslavl’s so close to Moscow that you can really pop down whenever you want for a day trip. At this point, I know the Moscow metro as well as the Yaroslavl маршрутки (bus system)! On top of that, Yaroslavl is definitely a very “Russian” city. It isn’t very international. This means you get a healthy dosage of Russian language and culture from people who, very frequently, have never met an American before.

What’s your favorite memory from your year abroad?

My favorite memory is probably my first Friday night in Russia. That was the first time I bonded with so many of my new friends, whose friendship I’ll cherish long after this year is done. The night started with a gaggle of awkward American students sitting at a table in the bar, and ended with us having bonded with each other and everyone else who was there! When the DJ found out we were Americans, he stopped the music and announced through his microphone. We ended up getting drinks on the house and drinks from people who were just excited to meet Americans. It seemed like everyone was excited to talk to us, and we were just as eager to speak to them! Dancing, jabbering in Rugglish, people on the bar (Oh, you know who you are! ;))…That was a night to remember!  Study abroad is at least as much about the people you meet as the places you go, and I’m so grateful to to all the people who made this year so memorably wonderful.

In a nutshell, what were the best and worst parts of the Middlebury program?

The best parts were that as a student in this program, I felt very well supported in my culture shock and learning by both my professors and my coordinator (Thanks, Anya!). The program allowed us enough time to explore and pursue extra-curricular interests, but at the same time provided interesting classes in politics, culture, and language. The worst part… leaving?

If you could go back in time, would you still go to Yaroslavl?

Yes!! And if I could go back in time, I would tell my sophomore self that she has no idea what a wild ride she’s in for. While there will be challenges, she’s going to come home so much stronger, with a newfound ability to just laugh and move on when things don’t go as planned and an understanding that she’s a really, really lucky girl (tfu tfu tfu!)

If you could give one piece of advice to the students coming to Yaroslavl next year, what would it be?

Buy Skylink internet. Do it the first week. You will never have internet problems for the rest of the year if you just do this. See the comments in my post on “How to Get Internet in Russia” for details. Trust me, it will save you so much frustration and stress. It will help you with every part of living in Russia, from culture shock (you can get English books/shows online when you’re desperate) to language (you can google any word or grammar point whenever you want). Also, ask your coordinator  Anya to take you or direct you to Globus the first week to get any and all the little things you need. They’re essentially a Russian Walmart.

Any last words?

To all the people who followed our blog this year, thank you so much! It was an honor and a privilege to write for a global audience, and your readership gave me the encouragement I needed to follow through with my goals and experience this year to its fullest. I hope that you one day have the chance to see Yaroslavl–whether under snow or under sunshine, it really is a wonderful city.

Off to the next adventure!

Sarah

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