Today we went to the Hermitage. I don’t think we saw even half of it. Our cultural guide showed us around to all the most famous paintings (Leonardo DaVinci!!!) and shared lots of interesting tidbits about various paintings. Then we were left on our own to explore. But it was so overwhelming and there was so much to see. So we headed out after several hours with the intent to visit again later because it’s free (for students) and so, so beautiful.

While there we managed to run into Anastasia. She was there with her sister. Apparently on that day the Hermitage was the place to be. It seems like such a strange concept, that a place so old and historic, which I’ve been building up in my mind for some time now, is considered so casual and people go there sometimes when they have a free hour. It’s nothing out of the ordinary to them. But when I walk by I still can’t help stopping and staring and reminding myself that I am indeed looking at the Hermitage (or various other places I’d only ever seen in films/pictures/magazines). It’s a pleasant reminder of just how lucky I am to be here and how wonderful all the things are that I’m getting to see.

On another note, a few days ago I realized that I started to miss English and the ability to understand everything around me. Even though I speak English with the other students in my program and with our friends who also speak English, it just isn’t the same. At first I was surprised that I was missing it because I had been so caught up in my love of Russian, I thought I could go on living in Russia forever and speaking only Russian the rest of my life. But it seems like English is more like a biological or psychological need than anything else. I feel like I’m hard-wired with English and without it my system will begin to stop functioning properly. I have no control over it! It reminded me of one of my Russian friends back at university. She told me that if she had to live in America without ever hearing Russian spoken by other Russians, she’d go crazy. I wonder if there is some sort of real need for your native language that exists. I don’t think it’s just wanting to be in your comfort zone. I’ll definitely look into it more as I find it fascinating.


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