Everyone knows the signs of a post-study abroad collegiate: constantly comparing everything to your study abroad city, using every conversation as an excuse to talk about your lifechanging experience, compulsively scanning the web for cheap plane tickets hoping that someday you’ll have enough money to relive the glory days that were study abroad. If you studied abroad in Russia, you are part of an even smaller, more elite subset of international explorers, and if you lived there, whether for just a summer or a whole year or more, you probably exhibit some of these signs:
1. After all those gray, rainy days you get irrationally excited about sunshine.
2. You craved (or actually bought) a fur…anything.
3. People on the street ask you what’s wrong since you’ve unwittingly adopted the Russian public emotionless facial expressions.
4. Chai budesh’? Yes please, and you always expect snacks.
5. You are excellent at dividing numbers by 34, and when the exchange rate is really good…
6. You use smetana on everything, and find yourself occasionally craving dill.
7. It took you a while to adjust to people wearing sweats to class rather than high heels
8. You’ve got your elevator pitch down pat for when people inevitably ask you “Why Russia?”
9. A bottle of vodka is your go-to bar order (as long as you’re of age!)
10. You feel relieved when you enter a bathroom and there is toilet paper in the stall- bonus if you can flush it; also when there is a functioning toilet seat or really anything other than a squat toilet!
11. You know all the crazy stories about the Russian royals’ lives and try to share the best ones whenever someone will listen- “have you guys heard of Rasputin?”
12. You have adopted the Russian way of complaining about how inconvenient and inefficient everything is, yet becoming extremely defensive when anyone else attacks your adopted country- they don’t understand.
13. You start to forget how annoying flyer-pushers on the street are and actually remember them fondly.
14. You can’t stand “fake Cyrillic.”
15. Despite all the struggles of living in Russia, you wouldn’t trade your time there for anything.
Samantha Guthrie attends the University of Virginia, class of 2016. She is a double major in Foreign Affairs and Russian and Eastern European Studies. A Boren Scholarship recipient, she plans to work for the US government in a career related to national defense intelligence or international aid. Her research focuses on the relationship between Russians and Caucasians. She spent spring and summer 2014 in St. Petersburg with SRAS Russian Studies Abroad and Russian as a Second Language.