Farewell – Coming Home – Looking Back (9 Jan 2010)

Farewell – Coming Home – Looking Back (9 Jan 2010)

My last day on this fantastic trip. It is now 4:35 in the morning on the 9th of January. I have decided not to sleep tonight as I wanted to finish this blog. And I still need to pack for my noon flight.

This study abroad semester has been a rewarding experience for me. I learned a lot inside the classroom in the realm of mathematics, and even music through piano lessons. I learned a new language, though I’m not at all fluent in it yet. I learned about the Russian culture and made some good Russian friends. Excursions to other parts of Europe have given me more friends and great experiences in each city I visited. I got to listen to many different languages and often tried to learn a few words here and there.

Outside the classroom, I learned a few things about myself: I like languages. I like the way they sound, the way each language compares to another. I learned that I can spend long periods of time only having conversations with myself. I adapt to my living environment and situation pretty well. That said, when the opportunity presents itself to take a shower, I grab that shower.

I learned a lot about the world opinion of the United States. I learned that it is common to complain about US foreign policies and its failures, while at the same time blame us for anything that goes wrong in the world, and say that it’s America’s responsibility to fix everything, regardless if whether we caused it or not. Granted there are definitely many people who don’t think this way. However, this idea was still very prominent in my trip. I also learned, that I am honored to be an American.

Finally, I learned that even though my writing proficiency greatly improves after midnight (I knew this from high school), my thinking ability severely drops around 4 am. So instead of writing much more, I’m going to share either a favorite photo, one that conveys a striking memory, or both from each entry.

Russia is definitely ready for a Nuclear fallout. These steep escalators go hundreds of feet underground all over the metro. To feel how steep they are, the lights on the left are standing vertical. When we looked at the advertisements on the side, they match the angle of the tunnel so I felt vertigo. Also, the tunnel is made out of metal. Yea, these guys are legit.

I said they were fun. Top row left to right and on down we have Natalie. Lenny & Mike Weiss. Will, David, John. Austin, Bill, Caleb, Mike Donatz.

A random station in between the dacha station and Moscow.

Vorobiyovy Gory Station, over the River.

Reminds me of that famous photo of the men sitting on the metal beam of the Chrysler Building under construction. Not quite as cool though.

These kids know what’s important. They don’t care about getting their slick clothes dirty, only about the ball on the field.

Oh KAKA there he is! Adeel didn’t even notice. That dude was super sly in the previous photos, sneaking up like that. Nah just kidding he’s one of us. He’s Bill, and he’s pretty chill. Plays soccer too, and cooks good foo’.

We entered the palace and walked into this round room with the white grand piano in it. After sitting down (most of us anyway), our tourguide gave the intro talk. This is a photo of almost all of us in the program. The only people not in it are the people sitting in seats number 2, 3, 4, starting from the left. The girls in those seats are the Russians who help us out in the program, and Nikolai, a french student here.

Looking out past the distant ship, trying to catch a glimpse of Finland, I wondered what Peter thought when he decided to build his fortress and Palace here. No not really, but it seemed like a good caption.

My favorite photo from St. Isaac’s. I was awestruck by the inside of this building and St. Isaac’s Cupola.

In the words of Adeel Khan, paraphrasing Kanye West, “This photo is one of the best photos of all time.”

As we walked out into the grassland to see the Church of Pokrov-on-Nerl I stopped to take this photo. I think it’s one of my favorite photos of Russia so far.

So this picture pretty much sums up our entire trip. If you don’t know him already, Chris Horvat is a man of many talents, including (obviously) modeling. The moment captured here is locally referred to as “The Precious” here in Russia.

I got out my honey to show it off, and then got some on my gloves. So then I proceeded to clean the honey off of them. It worked.

Monkey Bars! Lenny and I got to climb on them. There was a repeating song that quickly became annoying coming through speakers. A video of dudes climbing on the bars accompanied the speakers. So we figured it was alright if we climbed on them as well.

Proof that we were there

The timpanist’s sheet music.

This girl kept jumping to the fresh snow to make snow angels.

Perhaps the coolest looking building in the fog in Moscow, the gold up top supposedly solar panels, according to one of the Russians with us.

Communists! We dared not get any closer as we didn’t want to get hurt.

After walking all the way back to Kreshatik we decided to walk along its sidewalk for a bit before heading to an inexpensive cafe. While this is the sidewalk it doubles as a parking lot for cars. Yes, I was almost hit by this suv, but it was going pretty slow.

My favorite photo of the day

From the riverwatchmen’s point of view. I took this shot over 10 times, experimenting with the focus and shutter exposure time. I was surprised at how much I learned about my camera. Anyway, I was finally satisfied by this one.

A Russian woman begging at the edge of Red Square.

Looking down on lower Old Town. This sight was my favorite in the whole city. I acquired a background for my computer of a Swiss skyline wishing that I could see something that resembled it and now I have. The tallest church tower belongs to St. Olaf’s. To my disappointment, all the doors were locked both days we tried to enter.

Turns out it was colder this morning than on Tuesday evening. It did feel a bit chilly out on the hill.

The bridge from the tower to the entrance on the other side of what might have once been a moat gave me this view of one last incredible Moscow sunset.

Meat fondue with Marcel’s family. Jamie is very photogenic once she gets over her shyness.

Natalia on the left with Jamie, Luca checking out their fun. Désirée in the middle, Lidya in front in pink, and Bea to the right.

There was even a soccer field hidden away in the forest/meadow combination that spanned the hill.

Stadt Park Metro Station. Very pretty actually.

Mendelssohn Bartholdy Park.

Right up front.

The walls of the processional way from the city of Babylon.

The first chessmaster in the world. And he was Czech. Apparently, his rival and him would publish books about the other one saying the other one couldn’t play chess and this went back and forth.

A delicious dessert we all shared. Apple strudel and a sweet dumpling thing.

Looking down at Lower Bern from the Parliament Building.

There. That was a rough summary of my trip in a few pictures. It was a blast. The ups, the downs, and everything in between. I’m glad I did it and would definitely like to do it again.

I want to thank everyone who read, looked, and listened (or at least one of those) to my journal and to thank you especially for your patience in often waiting for a delayed update. Your comments and continued support (even if it was simply ghost support) were appreciated.

When I’m not sleeping on the plane, I will be listening to the following song, thinking about returning home. And even though I won’t be on a train, I’d like to imagine I were. And even if I can’t do that, this song gives me a wonderful sense of returning home. My parents are worried I don’t want to come home; I think this song expresses more than I could ever say in words regarding my feelings about home.

~ Caleb

One Responseto “Farewell – Coming Home – Looking Back (9 Jan 2010)”

  1. Nana says:

    Caleb, we have certainly appreciated and enjoyed all of the photos & comments on the blog. I especially liked the photos showing landscapes, water, and people. The buildings were interesting, but seeing YOU in a photo was very nice. George & I both think you have done a great job of recording your time in Russia, friends you’ve made, and information about your visits in Europe on the way home!

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