Justine in Russia: The Final Week

I started writing this the beginning of this week, but realized it was much harder for me to put my words together as I waited for days to pass.

The last week was not so stressful for me because I took it as a final week to take in my entire semester here. I admit, I did not really study for my finals nor did I really think about doing so. The saddest part about leaving was that our finals ended, only for us to be forced to leave the country within the next two days.

I spent my last week saying goodbye to my favorite places and visiting all the places I haven’t been to before. We were also blessed with amazing weather. The last three weeks ran from being 65 degrees to 85 degrees. It was blue skies and beautiful sunsets almost all of May.

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Amazing sunsets every single night.

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Flowers were at a bloom at the Botanical Garden.

I did not skip any of my assignments, but I took a lot of my time trying to enjoy my last nights out. I would take walks for over three hours and come home at midnight to get ready for the next day. There was no feeling of dread to go home, but more of a feeling that there was so much left for me to do in Petersburg. However, I knew that I was not going to throw away my entire semester the last week and had to power through. My oral exam for conversation did not go as well as I anticipated, but I have high hopes for my grammar exams.

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I was really happy I found the time to visit the Hermitage one last time.

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I returned to “the beach” to watch the sunset one last time.

I like to say that I grew a lot on this study abroad experience. It is not the matter of improving my language skills or becoming more immersed in the culture, but becoming more aware of myself. I am from New York and I am extremely proud of it. My city is extremely diverse, but I slowly feel less and less welcome here. I’ve had an identity crisis my entire life. I struggle to fit into the mold of being Asian-American, which makes no sense to me. What exactly is American? I also do not fit into being Chinese because I have spent my entire life in the United States. I feel stuck. Being in Petersburg made me feel a little less lost and helped me start to accept myself. No one cares about you in Petersburg. I live unnoticed and I have never been so happy to be unnoticed. I think it is a feeling I have been hoping for, for the past 21 years of my life. I never thought I would be able to find it here, but I did. In a country where I barely speak the language, I found home in myself. I cannot call this place home, nor will I ever be able to, but the past 18 weeks here really made me feel like I was home.

There are people and places that I will forever hold to my heart and there is no doubt that I will return one day. It will not be the same considering that I will not be a student (maybe), but I know I will return. There are places I will never be able to let go and Saint Petersburg is one of them. My host mom is one of them, but I think I will dedicate my last post to her.

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A final goodbye to Smolny Sabor (church right in front of the university).

До следующего раза (until next time)


Justine G.

Жюстин, usually Джастин, Жастин, or Жустин.

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