This post was written by undergraduate student Lauren Garey ‘12. Read more on Lauren’s own blog: http://www.travbuddy.com/lgarey/blogs
Today marks our 10th day in St Petersburg. How many more days do we need to make the mental transition from tourist to resident? As I walk the familiar streets, I find myself regarded as a ‘regular’ at a local restaurant, and know the employees’ names at my favorite café; I feel like a resident. When I speak, or should I say butcher, my limited Russian words, cannot find where I am on a map, or struggle to understand Dollar values in Rubles, I am reminded of my status as a tourist. Can there ever be a balance between the two? Here we are immersing ourselves in the culture, eager to fit in, but in a certain sense, looking forward to standing out as well. How does one refer to this well-intentioned traveler? Let’s call it a “resourist,” not quite a resident, but not just a tourist.
This made-up word sounds strikingly similar to the word ‘resources.’ Therefore (just to praise myself a bit), I think this word was aptly created because our BRIC group comprises of some of the most resourceful students and teachers I know. In regard to the little things, my companions and I have already started compiling lists of useful Russian words, downloading applications to assist with speaking properly, and even one of us has started researching and memorizing pick-up lines in Russian! On a larger scale, everyone has been coordinating their own day trips, organizing taxis, and trying new Russian cuisine at various restaurants all over the city.
This past weekend we took a day trip to Moscow in order to experience Russian culture in a different context. Although tired from the overnight train ride, everyone eagerly and optimistically trekked around sight-seeing and taking pictures. We toured the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, the Goom, and Moscow State University. We were fortunate enough to visit in the midst of Moscow’s music festival week. As a result, we saw a plethora of traditional Russian dancers, soldiers singing, and believe it or not, modern break dancers!
As I approached the stage on Arbat Street, following the sounds of the loud music, I saw several students from our group already watching, swaying back and forth with their arms strewn around each others’ shoulders. I think that this perfectly depicts the feeling of closeness that has already developed within the group in just over one week. We are all very different people who are here for unique reasons; however, it is always nice to stop and take a moment to remember that in the end, we are all just resourists.