Who are you?

I am a 20-year-old Middlebury College student, originally from Salinas, California. I love travel, languages, and people. Other interests include: photography, writing, cooking, singing, playing guitar, dancing, acting, laughing, talking to strangers, and petting other people’s dogs when mine aren’t available.

What’s your major?

I am an International Studies (IS) major with a focus in Eastern Europe/Russia and Russian language, specializing in literature and civilization.

Why Russia?

Why not? What a beautiful and mysterious place to go! I’m not a big fan of following the herd, so I wanted an experience that was going to be a little different from the “I sat on the beach drinking margaritas for my entire year abroad”.

…Wait a second. Why exactly didn’t I choose that? Hmm. I guess we’re all a little masochistic in the Russian department.

In all seriousness, one of the main things that attracted me to Russia was the language. It began, as most worthwhile experiences do, with a personal connection. Anya was from Ukraine, and after living with my family for two years she became like a sister to me. Russian was her primary language, and I used to tell her that if tickled my ears when she spoke it. It sounded like it was just bubbling with life! Later on, I became interested in linguistics. By the time I started college, I realized that Russian was a great option for me because a) it’s a very archaic language (good for linguistics!!) and b) I wanted a challenge. Let me tell you, I got what I asked for!

Why Yaroslavl?

Yaroslavl is known for being one of the most spectacular cities in Russia, rich in culture, art, architecture, and mountains of history. It’s one of the main cities in the Golden Circle, and I felt that this would provide me with the opportunity to travel around and see the other cities on this Russian tourist route. Being a history and art lover (aka a bit of a nerd), the fact that its historic center happens to be a UNESCO world heritage site was a big pull—not to mention my interest in Orthodox cathedrals and icons! Also, I want to get out of the city as well to some of the villages surrounding Yaroslavl. I’ll be up front with you. I’m a bit of a country bumpkin, and Russian village life intrigues me just as much as life in the big city.

What are your goals for this year?

I’m 20 years old, and back in the US that seems to be the “lost” year. You know, the whole not-a-teen-but-not-21 thing? I’m going to break this curse and make this one of the most exciting years of my life. Here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Uncover the beauty secrets of Russian women
  • Explore to every city in the Golden Circle
  • Create opportunities: don’t just watch the ballet, take a Russian dance class!
  • Tour every major site in Yaroslavl
  • Photograph an inexcusable amount of people and places
  • Journey to genuine Russian villages
  • Learn to walk, talk, and live like a Russian

And then I’m going to blog about it!

3 Responses to “Sarah in the Golden Circle”

  1. Paolo Barbone said

    Hey Sarah,

    My name’s Paolo, I’m going to be a senior at midd and just finished up a year in Yaro. I’m happy to see someone taking a stab at a serious blog for the Yaro experience! I will definitely be following your progress and hope it will be as fulfilling for you as it was for me. I wish you the best and would be glad to offer any help I can to get you into the swing of things as quickly as possible.

    • sarahinthegoldencircle said

      Hi Paolo!

      Thank you so much for your support. I’m really happy to hear that you had such a great experience in Yaroslavl! It’s an incredible city, but people seem to have very rarely heard of it outside of Russia. I’m looking forward to an amazing year there. Any and all advice would be appreciated!

      Take care,
      Sarah

  2. Jim said

    Love your posts, keep them coming! Always thought that Russia was just an extension of Europe – but clearly it is a very different experience for a visitor. Take care!

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