Today I went to my friends house to prepare to go to their dacha again. I went to their flat where my friend and her husband live with her parents. I was immediately greeted at the door by her father who excitedly said hello and then directed me to his computer because he wanted me to show him where I live in America. He had already pulled up Google Maps, typed in my state and told me to sit down and tell him where to go on the screen. While my focus was on showing him where my house was exactly, when we came to a stop light, for example, I was eagerly telling him to go right. But he took his time exploring the area, turning the panorama around and around and taking it all in. I’d forgotten how new and different everything must have looked to him. When I showed him the rows and rows of small houses, he was surprised that this was completely standard for people to live in their own houses.
It was an incredible experience to see my world through his eyes and all the excitement and fascination that goes along with that. It was also nice to be so warmly received and accepted as a foreigner, especially as I’ve found that many older people aren’t so welcoming. It was also nice to have someone show such interest and enthusiasm in where I’m from and I’m more than happy to share a part of my world with others.
Later at the dacha I received a similar welcome. Unlike my last visit to the dacha where I was alone with friends, this time my friend’s husband’s parents, who own the dacha, were there as well. So was his brother, his brother’s wife and their two small children who have a dacha on the same area of land.
During dinner they were all very inquisitive about me and where I come from, what my family are like and what I think of Russia. They also seemed to be pretty amused by my reaction as they brought on the vodka and did several shots of it throughout dinner, toasting each time. I sipped at mine until they finally caught on and told me to “drink it to the bottom.” I did and they seemed quite impressed that I had it in me as both an American and a girl. Then they asked if I had any pictures of my family and I brought up the few I had online. We went through them very slowly and they asked where they were taken, who was in the picture, how old my siblings were, what my parents did, etc. After I showed them the pictures I was thanked several times and they seemed to genuinely appreciate what little I had shown them.
So again I felt completely welcomed and accepted and it was nice to share our lives in that way with each other. I got to visit their dacha and participate in a weekend in their lives and they got a glimpse into my world as well. It was simply wonderful.