When I was in Russia, I would pass through the Горьковская metro station at least twice each day. The Petersburg metro fascinated me. Watching the crowds rush into and out of the station offered me a constant case study of Russia’s diverse and vibrant culture. Now that I am back in the US, I find myself emerged in sudden spouts of nostalgia over this specific metro station. But I’ve realized that what I really miss is the energy it has come to represent for me after all of those hours of people watching. I miss the buzz of Russian language. I miss the purposeful pace of life.
This past summer marked the first time I’ve lived abroad for an extended period of time and I recognize now that, for this very reason, St. Petersburg will always be attached with a special significance for me. I feel as if I will always miss the city and will hopefully return one day to relive parts of this summer, to once again relish in the beauty of Russia’s “cultural capital.”
Since my return to the US, I’ve spent a lot of my time catching up with friends and attempting to describe my experience abroad. But I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to do the city justice through words. This experience abroad will remain a series of convoluted memories and feelings that I hold for myself. Surely I’ll be able to reminisce with others from my program about the difficulties and absurdities of our Russian summer, but, ultimately, we were each affected by this experience differently and, moreover, in deeply personal ways. I’m encouraging all of my friends to consider studying or working or just living abroad, because I really do believe that the experience inherently alters one’s perspective and perceptions.
I’m glad to be back in the US because it signifies the completion of my journey and the beginning of new opportunities, but, given the chance, I don’t think I could refuse a flight to Petersburg anytime soon.