Sunday, December 22, 2013

Study Abroad Bucket List

Although I've already been to Russia three times, studying abroad there is going to be a completely different experience. I will be living like a local (or at least trying), I won't have my boyfriend to rely on as a language crutch and I won't be staying with his family like in the past, I will actually have to learn something (including "International Trade and Regional Integration: Legal and Economic Perspectives”- yikes!), and, clearly, it will be for 8 months, not 3 weeks!

So I've put together a list of things I've learned in Russia so far (see previous post) and a little preliminary bucket list of things to do while I'm abroad. I'll try to revisit the bucket list every two months to see how I'm making progress!

1. Attend Luzhitsy Bounty. Every summer there is a festival in the village of Luzhitsy celebrating the heritage and culture of the Votian people- it’s small and local and I think it would be amazing to see a little minority group trying not to blend into Russia completely. For more info, check out this video.  

2. Work this look at least once: the mini skirt/tights/high heeled boots in snow look is pretty popular in Russia 

3. Go South! I suppose if nothing else my proposed research trip to Azerbaijan would count for this, but I really want to go into the Northern Caucasus (the safer parts) or somewhere on the Black Sea, maybe check out Mt Elbrus!

Valley in the Caucasus Mountains

4. Observe an Orthodox fast during Lent. The diet is basically vegan, which you follow along with with increased religious observance (prayer, meditation), an overall heightened consciousness, and more ascetic mentality. I tried this last year and it basically involved eating nothing but black bean burgers and In the Nood (UVA on-Grounds noodle restaurant- I still can’t stand it), total failure. Hopefully it will be easier in Russia, fingers crossed my host mom will be super religious and help me out!

   5. Feed the squirrels in Pavlovsky Park. Listed as the best place in St Petersburg to feed squirrels…sounds fun! (and an easy one to cross off)

   6. Learn Azeri to some extent…probably not very well as most of my concentration will be on Russian of course, but I just can’t waste the opportunity to learn from a native speaker!

Typical dacha "neighborhood"
7. Go to a dacha + banya! This will involve having to befriend someone who has a dacha, so step 1: befriend as many Russians as I can and subtly ascertain the crucial detail.

      8. Visit Kizhi. Kizhi is an island in the center of Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia in north western Russia. It is famous for the ancient architecture that is mostly wooden structures made without any nails! 
Kizhi Pogost (Churchyard)
9. Kuznechny Market:
one of the best markets in St Petersburg, full of interesting vendors and a great variety of products. Apparently vendors will yell out to you as you walk by!
10. Go to a Zenit FC Game. Petersburg's soccer team, fans get crazy! 

This is not a comprehensive list, so if anyone has any suggestions, throw them at me! I am looking to make the absolute most of my time while in Russia and it is always a good motivator and fighter of home sickness to have a to-do list of fun things to look forward to.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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