kball11 June 10th, 2009
As corny as it is, Hello World seemed the appropriate title for this post.
My name is Katie (soon to be Kсения), and I’m a rising Junior double-major in History and Russian Studies at the College of Wooster preparing for a semester abroad in Vladimir, Russia. I am very happy to announce that I got one Junior I.S. done as a sophomore so I don’t have to do two in one semester.
First, I guess we should go through the basics about me. Currently I call home Davis, CA, one of the most liberal, little hippy towns ever to hit the US. Why yes, the local university, UC Davis, had made Forbe’s best colleges list and I believe, at one point in the not so distant past, Davis might have even made it on Forbe’s Top Hometown list. In short, it’s really not a bad place to be. Currently I’m splitting my time between two jobs and studying, one full-time helping my old place of employment, Gottschalks (a department store, go out of business. The other is, happily, a when-I-want it office-esque job working for a family friend. Let me clarify for everyone out there: working for a liquidation company is awful. Not only is it sad to see so many of your co-workers quit or are laid off, but liquidation managers aren’t a whole lot of fun and liquidation rules aren’t a whole lot of fun either. Under liquidation rules, we are no longer required (or in some cases even allowed) to offer customer service. Unsurprisingly, this makes some people very, very angry, and they’re very happy to take it out on the nearest associate. Recently (and yes Davisites, you should be very, very ashamed that you have such a person in your midst) one customer told her daughter, in front of a co-worker (a very sweet girl who is splitting her time between work and the army to help her husband get through college), “See honey, this is why you go to college.” The woman, like many customers, had a gripe with our liquidator’s no return policy. It took all I had not to turn to her daughter and tell her “Yes dear, and this is how you pay your way through it.” Needless to say it is a very temporary but very frustrating job experience that I’m hoping will solidify my people skills. I haven’t lost it (yet).
When I’m not at work, I’m either out with my horse causing trouble or working on my Russian and studying for my LSATs. Sadly, I think all of these things could qualify to be full-time occupations, and I don’t really have a lot of time for myself (which is okay, boredom is not a good thing).
And no, I have no clue why I left California for Wooster, OH. The best answer I can give is that COW was just a perfect fit, and continues to be. I couldn’t be happier with my choice (although I will also be the first to tell you every college, Wooster included, has its downsides). I love the intimate learning environment and how accessible my professors are to me (many of my professors have even invited their classes to their houses for a meal/class).
That being said, it’s time to leave Wooster, OH for a bit. It’s also time to test my knowledge of both the Russian language and culture, and hopefully improve both. And so I am off to Vladimir, RU, a town with a very rich history a little south of Moscow. I have been lucky enough to have traveled (and lived) throughout the world rather extensively for my young age, and so opted out of studying in the more western cities St. Petersburg and Moscow. I’m hoping Vladimir will provide a more intensive language experience, in addition to a more authentic cultural experience.
As the date of departure nears, I find myself very excited but very apprehensive. I have been poked and prodded by doctor’s more than I care to say, getting all my shots and getting tested for various things that would prevent me from going to Russia. I’ve also been doing a little reading, including on Moscow’s now infamous (and luckily jailed) chessboard (very serial) killer, in addition to a few accounts of unhelpful police. Such things are an issue in every country (America not withstanding), but they don’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence. My father has been pushing self-defense classes, which I think is silly.
But I’ve also been reading some FANTASTIC things that make me so excited to go, including that not only is Vladimir a world heritage site, but it is also one of the most historically rich cities in all of Russia. Founded in the early 12th century by its namesake, Vladimir Monomakh, Vladimir is in what is called the Golden Ring, a ring of ancient Russian cities (also a huge tourist draw). Vladimir is also home to the Assumption Cathedral, the St. Demetrius Cathedral, and the Golden Gate (all UNESCO World Heritage monuments).
There is much more to say about Vladimir, but I encourage you all to explore online yourselves. I am hesitant to say much about a city I have not yet visited.
In closing, I’m hoping to establish a tradition. With each post I hope to end with a suggested song. This week it’s “Mi Mancherai” by Josh Groban from the Il Postino soundtrack. The song itself does not hold particular meaning for me (especially considering I don’t understand a word of it), but it does evoke strong memories of the film. Il Postino is a 1994 film directed by Michael Radford about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and his interactions with a local postman. Set north of Sicilly, the film delivers a lot of messages about the human condition. It’s really a beautiful film, that I encourage you all to watch. It’s even in keeping with the international focus of this blog (it’s in Italian). Hopefully, after you watch the film you can enjoy Groban’s song (he’s got an amazingly rich voice, the song lends a lot to the film).
I hope to post again before Russia, if not, you’ll definitely be hearing from me in August. For now, пока (goodbye).