Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
With only a few days left, I felt it to be appropriate to make a “short” appreciation post. I have made so many wonderful native friends here that I hope I can still keep in touch when I go back to the U.S. Disclaimer: If you travel abroad, do not expect to make awesome friends like these, they are not your average Estonians/Russians/Americans.
There is a lot to be said about this person right here. Never in my life have I met someone with so much character. One moment he can be jamming to his favorite Pink song and the next moment he can be explaining the role that the fall of the Soviet Union plays in Estonian life. There is never a dull moment when I am with Denis. This trip would not be possible without him. He organizes nearly everything we do here outside of school and he helps solve any problems that come up during our stay here. He is a teacher, a mentor, a dancer, a singer, a joker, and a great friend. He has singlehandedly made this trip unforgettable and I will miss him “from the bottom of my heart.”
Christiana is another person who surely made an impact on my experience here. Although she isn’t a native, I will make an exception. She has done do much for me and my group. Aside from writing reports and taking pictures to record our progress, she does so much more. Every little problem that comes up, Christiana deals with right away. In a way, she has been our “Mom away from home”. She represents a perfect example of what it means to be a “global citizen” and I hope one day to be as responsible and as lingually graceful as she is.
This woman has made an impact on my learning and my heart. I have always wanted a Russian babushka, and I guess my wish finally came true. I can definitely agree that all the stereotypes are true. Yes, they make you eat your body weight in food, and then bring out dessert. No, they will NOT let you out of the house with your hair wet. Yes, they are worried about you getting sick if it is the slightest bit cold out and you don’t have a parka coat to keep warm. Yes, they will love you with all their heart and then some. I am extremely blessed to have been placed in the home of such a hardworking woman. She is always making food, doing dishes, buying groceries, knitting, ironing, and cleaning without ever allowing us to lift a finger. She, like my own mother, is the perfect example of selflessness.
During the 5th week of the program, myself and a few other kids from the group had the opportunity to volunteer at a Children’s Center. It was so great to get to know the kids, even though they spoke better Russian than I could ever hope to learn. Yara took a liking to me the first time she laid eyes on me. She is the spunkiest, energetic, and creative little girl you could ever find. I am grateful that I was able to meet her and make many great memories for this trip.
I met Vlad at the 5th of July party kind of on accident. He and Georgi were both wearing matching red bow ties and I only ended up talking to them because I didn’t want to go on the dance floor. But, later we did anyways. Vlad also took Georgi’s key to cut down balloons to give to people like a clown would at a circus. It was definitely a night to remember. We were able to hang out a few more times before he left Estonia in preparation of year abroad in America. Vlad is funny, very smart, and great at piano (although he doesn’t like to admit it). I am glad I met him, and I hope I’ll be able to meet up with him while he is in the U.S.
Wearing a red bow tie and jamming to the American music, I met Georgi at the 5th of July celebration. He, too, has an amazing sense of humor and is very smart. He finished his study abroad program in America the same time I started mine here and it was cool to hear everything he had to say about the differences between Estonia and America. He has great stories to tell and I kick myself for not having more time to hear them. Anyways, if you ever find yourself in Narva, be sure to download his new startup app, Short Walk. Hopefully expanding to more cities in Estonia, and later the world, it is an ingenious app that allows the user to select a time limit and creates a route of popular attractions that can be seen in that given time.
I actually have quite a funny story to tell about how I met Pasha. My friends and I were sitting on the beach and talking when we noticed a lonely boy sitting all alone. So of course we began to discuss the possible reasons for this young man to be sitting all by himself. After a 5 minute conversation, I was considering going over to talk to him, but my friends strongly advised me not to. Right about this time, he had actually gotten up and wandered over. He startled us by stating that he had heard us speaking English and was wondering if we could have a conversation so he could practice his English. We ended up having a lively conversation but he had to go home for supper. Later we were able to hang out a couple more times and get to know him better. He is the wittiest, coolest, and most open Russian I have ever met. We didn’t get to enjoy too much time with him, though, because he had to go back to Russia. I will definitely miss him and his memes, but, hey, who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to convince my parents to take a trip to Russia!