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Recently I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around Russia. This primarily stems from my impending departure date from this country. I am leaving because my visa dictates that I do so, but also to go home and attend weddings, meet my new niece and to generally have my friends remember who I am.
Having a glass bottle of 7-Up jump from your fingertips, the cap ricocheting off the row of seats in front of you and sticky soda spraying the stocking-clad legs of the audience members while the bottle loudly pirouettes on the cement floor and expels the built-up pressure in not something you wish to happen to you when you’re attending a performance of Swan Lake in St. Petersburg.
I’ve been carrying a multi-entry visa for months now, the edges of the type-written, stamped green paper fraying from its constant presence in my wallet. This visa isn’t the type that is glued into your passport, but a very tangible, handled, grown limp even in its unused state sort of visa.
Throughout my stay here, fellow teachers and students have repeatedly asked me how I manage to go about daily tasks: grocery shopping, trips to the post office, bus rides, etc. At first I was insulted by this line of questioning.
Surprise, surprise, a year in a country is not enough time! To be fair, my Fulbright placement – a ten-month long teaching position in a provincial Russian university funded by the U.S. State Department – was not quite a year.