Gone But Not Forgotten

Huh? Lithuania? That’s a country? Where? Why did you choose it?

I’m betting that most (if not all) of the students in the Study Abroad Lithuania program heard those same questions before they left this past January. As the semester is officially over, I decided some reflection is in order.

My answers were yes, it is a small country in the Baltic region of Europe. It’s along the Baltic Sea, bordering Poland and close to Russia. I chose it because of LCC International University, located in the port city of Klaipeda. It just felt right.

For most of a semester, I lived among students from around the world, with roommates from India, Germany, and Ukraine. I was surrounded by a city with a new language and new culture, as well as LCC’s own unique melting pot of people. This leads to a lot of unexpected things, and culture shock that sneaked up on each of us.

A short list of surprises compiled by the Spring 2020 cohort:

  • Sugar granularity
  • Eggs not refrigerated in stores
  • Dark rye bread
  • Food with fewer preservatives
  • Pastries uncovered in stores
  • Easy, inexpensive and safe public transport
  • No brown sugar or maple syrup
  • Buckwheat is more popular than rice
  • Tea is just about as popular as coffee
  • Prevalent smoking culture

Around each of those surprises is a story and a memory. Studying abroad for a semester is not just about traveling and adventure. It is also about living in a new country, with only the things you can fit in a suitcase or two. I chose to study in Lithuania because of the challenges and opportunities.

One of my firsts was taking the bus with fellow study abroads. We made it to our destination just fine. When it was time to head home, we excitedly found the right number bus. However, we hadn’t yet made the connection that we needed to cross the street first. As we were driven farther and farther away from campus, all we could do was look at each other and laugh. Then laugh some more at the spectacle we were making for everyone else on the bus. That night we rode that bus all the way to the end of the line, when the bus driver motioned that we had to get off and we all piled out. From there it was a relatively simple matter of crossing the street and waiting for the right bus to arrive. Instead of panicking, we reveled in the freedom and adventure.

When I asked members of the Spring 2020 Cohort about favorite memories, they didn’t just focus on the big trips. While those were incredible highlights, so were the everyday things we did while living in Klaipeda.

Nadia remembers Tri-S Meetings, when we were placed in groups and assigned to an American professor at LCC. They welcomed us into their homes and families. “It was a great time to feel connected and comfortable living abroad.” During my Tri-S dinner, we shared stories about grocery store excursions and the challenges of finding spaghetti sauce. 

Sofia’s favorite memories are all associated with the people she met. But a specific travel memory was from the first day in St. Petersburg, Russia. “When I was in St. Basil’s Cathedral with Jaden we walked into one of the larger spaces that was gilded and painted in so many colors. A men’s group started singing and it literally felt like time stopped. I can’t begin to describe how it sounded, but it’s a feeling I’ll always carry with me.”

Fiona A. remembers spending the day with a group of friends at Nida, a small resort town located on the Curonian Spit. “We rented a car, packed lunches, and spent the day exploring some beautiful nature parks, sand dunes and beaches. It was a heck of a day, and I’ll never forget it.” 

On the nice days, you could take extra time to walk into the city using a shortcut. The path included a huge bridge reaching over railroad tracks. Brittany remembers that every single time she did, “there would ALWAYS be a single engine not pulling anything going along the tracks.” 

It wouldn’t be LCC without the pond in front of the dorm buildings that attracted so many animals and children out for walks with their parents. One common sight on sunny days was bread bags on the side of the pond the ducks and other birds feasted on. I remember when I woke up on Valentine’s Day morning and opened my blinds, two swans had arrived in the night and formed a perfect heart the moment I looked out. 

It would be easy to say that the coronavirus global pandemic ruined my semester abroad. To focus on all the things COVID-19 took from me in the last month and a half after we had to leave. Instead I choose to realize that the semester being cut short doesn’t take away from the memories and experiences. I can remember the adventures, and think of those yet to come, rather than those I missed out on. 

Sylvia Leary

Iki Pasimatymo!

~ Cameron ~

“As I say  my final “see you later’s” this upcoming week, I of course find myself reminiscing on some of my favorite memories thus far; The transformation I saw within myself going from anxious to step into a four-month-long journey in Lithuania to NOW being anxious to step back into my life in Pennsylvania; Discovering a newfound love for many countries other than my own including Ukraine, Lithuania, Syria, Iraq, and Russia; Experiencing the sunset on the beach and dipping my toes in the Baltic Sea; Grocery shopping more than 2x a week; and many many more memories that I wish too keep between this country and mwah! I find myself asking others about their study abroad experience including others from my home university, and I am finding that LCC has provided me a much broader and deeper experience that I could have ever expected or imagined. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and fall in love with a place so far away from home, yet so close to my heart. I am beyond amazed at the friendships I have established, the relationship I have strengthened with myself, and the increase in WONDER and JOY I am finding in my journey with God.”

~ Lauren ~

“It’s hard knowing that you have to leave a place and people that you have grown close to and love very much. It’s the last week of my time here in Lithuania and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my time here. This experience has been the greatest thing for me and I have seen such a change in myself. The me 4 months ago is not the same person I am now, I am so much stronger, more independent, and have developed a deeper love for traveling and seeing new places. I have created a second home here in Klaipeda and will have a hard time saying goodbye. It’s been a good journey though and one that I will never forget. I must say, I am very nervous to go home, excited of course but it will be a challenge going back to the old lifestyle that I have in Rochester, New York ,and there are a lot of things I know will be different within myself that will radiate out into my daily life. I have overcome this 4 month challenge though and I am ready to take new challenges head on.”

~ Megan ~

“This semester has been nothing short of life changing. I have discovered so much meaning during my time here in Lithuania. From beautiful Baltic Sea views, walks through the forest, sunsets on the beach, white winter storms, and magical nights in the places I’ve travelled to, this semester has been unforgettable. I have encountered and adopted a new way of life that I had not expected. I now understand the importance of being intentional with your time and the relationships you make. I have also grown to appreciate the spontaneous moments that are full of life,and in them I see God’s hand. These are the moments I will forever remember. I have loved befriending new people, deepening relationships, and encountering and embracing new cultures. It is very bittersweet leaving this place that I have come to call home. Here, I have learned more about myself and grown as a person while making friendships with some of the best of people. Klaipeda, Lithuania will always hold of piece of my heartAs for now, I will take these life-shaping experiences, newly formed relationships, and new found appreciation for the world, its beauty, and all the people in it with me as I take my first few steps into the next journey.”

 

We won’t say good-bye, but just see you later to our home here in Lietuva.

 

Reflection

We are nearing the end – approximately 11 more days in the semester, 19 until I see my family, friends, and boyfriend. This downhill stride is one that is full of excitement anticipating those reunification’s, however, it comes with a pit in your stomach knowing you must leave the place you have called home for FOUR whole months.

This semester has taught me many things – personally, relationally, and spiritually.

#1. Intentionality: I have learned the importance of being intentional in relationships and friendships. I have also learned who from back home were intentional about hearing and experiencing the things here in Lithuania with me. I was amazed at how creative some got in their letters, packages, and even text messages in attempting to show their love towards me. I found that relationships can in fact make it despite the distance. You learn how to adapt to the time difference, although, ask me the first month I were here and I would have most likely shed a tear from exhaustion and frustration.

I have also learned how important it is to be intentional with myself. I am firm advocate for self-care and living a healthy lifestyle. That, of course, can take many forms depending on the person. I admit, my body was not happy with the changes that were occurring around me. I needed to find a new routine that worked for me and not feel guilty for taking an hour or two by myself to recuperate.

#2. Communication: I had assumed I was a good communicator prior to leaving, hah, think again Cam. It wasn’t until leaving until I realized I actually suck at communicating and needed to learn how to effectively do so. I was grateful for the patience that my friends and family had with me through the process, even the friends here with me. I learned that with being miles away from home, communication is all you got. You cannot physically go and hug that person after a rough day, you have to simply talk about it. Although it was difficult, I would not have it any other way. This semester has shown me what strength in relationships looks like. There is such beauty in debriefing with your significant other or friends about a rough day and being able to share with that with them by simply ‘talking’ about it and reflecting on your day.

#3. Self-confidence: This semester has taught me a greater appreciation for myself as an individual, and as a daughter in Christ. I have embarked on journey’s this semester that I would have never in a million years imagined I would have experienced. Who would have thought I would be navigating Russia with a group of once-strangers? I have seen myself go from anxious about navigating airports and cities to one struttin’ confidently through international airports and the city of Klaipeda. I have experienced the heaviness of being away from family and friends, who I once depended on to uplift me and remind me of my worth. But, I was forced to rely on myself and my God in Heaven for the reinforcement of my worth. I began to understand how transformative separating oneself from ‘comfort’ can be in one’s life. I am so grateful for the newfound confidence I have in myself. I am incredibly proud of myself for willingly choosing to step on that plane in Washington and head to a country I knew nothing about.

#5. Cultural competency: For this one, two stories are needed. Back track a couple weeks and I find myself sitting in the 3rd floor kitchen when a boy walks in. We start a conversation which leads to talk about faith and religion. He proceeds to tell me about his Muslim faith and asks me to articulate my beliefs for him. All of a sudden he blurts out, “Ya know, I just feel the need to tell you that not all of us are terrorists. We are actually really peaceful people.” My heart sunk and I still remember that moment like it were yesterday. The realness in his voice struck me. I of course knew that already but his words were so personal and real that it pierced through me. Here was a freshman from Afghanistan feeling the need to defend his religion and his people to some irrelevant American girl. I was honored but I also was taken back all at the same time.

Despite all of the ups and downs this semester, it has been one of the most invigorating and fulfilling four months of my life. I have created such incredible relationships here and back home, but most importantly, with myself. I continue to amaze myself everyday here.

I encourage you to say “yes” more than you say “no”, dive head first into the semester even though you are uncomfortable, go to chapel, go see the sunset on the beach, and so many other things!

~ Cameron, Messiah College

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

The semester is coming to a close, and I am finding it hard to really grasp that my time is almost over here in Lithuania. This study abroad experience has been nothing less than life changing. I have experienced another culture, travelled to different countries, and made a home here in Klaipeda. I definitely did not expect all of this.

I remember back to our first week in Lithuania, starting in Vilnius. It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like years ago. I remember being shy and nervous about this new experience, and very unsure. Who would have known that after 4 months I would go from feeling restless and overwhelmed to settled and content in this new place? If you told me that I would see Poland, an item on my life bucket list, or stand in front of the Baltic Sea so many times, or even enjoy going grocery shopping by myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, all of these things and so much more have happened.

One of the main reasons I will miss Klaipeda so much is because I have settled more into myself here. I didn’t realize this was happening until after the Russia trip. I feel more secure in making decisions and even taking time to go out with friends or even just by myself.  Studying abroad has taught me to embrace more of an independent and intentional spirit, which I never realized I needed before. I truly love who I have and am still becoming due to my experiences here. Klaipeda will always hold a very dear and special place in my heart. It’s home.

Of course, Klaipeda has become home for other reasons as well. I love going into the city, especially now with the beautiful weather. My favorite moment is when the bus passes the main square and crosses the bridge into Old Town. I love looking at the boat and seeing the coffee shops. Now, it is so familiar and comforting. I go into the city to explore, to study, and just to breathe. A lot of this happens at coffee shops, and I am not complaining! 10 Tiltu, Musangas, and Caffeine are my favorite places for chilling with friends, journaling, and getting some homework done. I will definitely miss these places and all of the delicious bakeries and walking through Theatre Square for different events when I go back to my home in the States.

Studying abroad in Lithuania has also taught me the value of spontaneity and intentionality. Some of my favorite memories were the ones that happened randomly, like going out late to see the Light Festival on Valentine’s Day or saying yes to a friend for going out to get coffee or kebabs or seeing the sunset on the beach. These are treasures. It has also been rewarding to be more intentional with people, both familiar and new. I have met new friends among the study abroad students and the LCC community. Again, coffee at coffee shops or even dinner or lunch at a new place are a great way to get to know someone better. (A theme is emerging here…can you guess where I like to spend my time?)

I know my time as a student here must come to an end (but does it have to?!). I will be taking back so much with me: a new outlook on the world, a high appreciation for different cultures, new words from a few languages, and new and valuable friendships. It’s a little bittersweet for me since I am not sure when I will be back in Lithuania, but I will be back one day! I don’t know what will come next on my journey, but I will have all of these things with me. Lithuania is truly a gem of a country with so much to offer and to teach you. The next chapter is about to begin shortly, and the journey continues on.
Labai ačiū Lietuva. Aš tave myliu.

~Megan

Messiah College

 

My Study Abroad Experience: A Reflection

The me 4 months ago would’ve told you I wasn’t ready to study abroad. She would’ve said she wasn’t brave enough and was terrified to leave her life behind for 4 long months. But I got on that plane, terrified, not knowing where exactly I was going or what I was getting myself into or if I was even going to be able to do it. The me today will say that studying abroad has been the best decision I’ve ever made and I would do it again in a heartbeat! Studying abroad has changed my life, I am now more confident. I have found my purpose in life and have found my strength. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of and I know now that I can accomplish anything, and I’m strong enough to be alone even in a foreign place! I have become so much more courageous these past few months and I’m not afraid to be a leader and take charge now. I’ve interacted and learned about so many different cultures so my world view has expanded so much as well. Hearing so many different opinions and learning about so many different cultures has opened my mind up to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. I’m not afraid to be alone anymore. I’m not afraid to do things out of my comfort zone, I’ve realized that my fears are just fears and I can’t keep feeding them!

I also have a different take on traveling in that I will not just be a tourist, but I will make a home in every place I go and make a point to learn their history and be a part of their culture. I’ve really learned to become a part of the culture I’m in and see it as a place where people grew up and have their own lives and not just an amusement park to see just tourist things. Of course, seeing tourist things will still happen but I also want to take time to see the coffee shops, bakeries, book stores, restaurants and other shops. I’ve now been to 6 different countries in 4 months. Never would I have thought I’d be able to do that! I’ve walked through all these countries and navigated my way around, I’ve learned some of the language and I’ve learned the history!

As for Klaipeda, it will always be my second home, the place where I found my true self, where I found amazing people, where I spoke a different language, where I mastered public transportation, and where I found a new look at life and traveling. Living in Klaipeda, Lithuania has been the most wonderful thing ever, I will truly miss everything about it when I leave and it will always have a piece of my heart! For anyone even remotely thinking about studying abroad, DO IT! It will bring nothing but goodness to your life! It will be scary and nerve wracking at first but after the first 2 weeks you forget why you were even scared! I’ve wanted to study abroad since high school, I almost didn’t because I was too scared and didn’t think it would work out but I pushed through that fear and I do not regret it one bit!

As for coming to LCC university, it had given me so many opportunities to grow as well. What’s cool about LCC is that it’s literally one of a kind, it’s the only school of its kind within the European nation. It’s 68% international students, from the US to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc. and 32% Lithuanians. LCC sends a clear message of wanting genuine growth out of everyone who attends, it’s a place to get to know new people from different places and will definitely leave a lasting impact on you! There are so many opportunities to get involved and be a part of LCC culture!

As I look back on myself 4 months ago, first coming here I thought this experience wouldn’t change me that much and that I wouldn’t grow or gain much out of it. Now, forwarding ahead 4 months I realize how much I have actually changed, I’ve become such a different person than I was when I first got here. I’ve become a more open, confident, strong and my worldview has also changed completely. I’ve also gotten so much out of this experience, learning about and seeing new cultures, living in a new culture, learning some new language, living life on my own and being in a foreign country living my life. It’s crazy to think what 4 months can do, 4 months that I thought would be long and hard but we’re actually short and challenging in the best way possible.

Overall, I’m sad my time in Lithuania is coming to a close, I’ve made this place my second home and I will miss it dearly. I will definitely be coming back here the first chance I get!

~ Lauren

Roberts Wesleyan

Tri-S: Who, what, where?

As my final Tri-S dinner happens this evening, I cannot help but reflect on my time here in Lithuania so far. All from navigating the city and bus system to walking the shores of the Baltic Sea and sipping coffee from a local coffee joint, I have experienced a minimal amount at what this city can offer. But, who am I to sit here moaning over what could-have-been or what I could-have seen…it is time to think reintegration, what bucket list items I have yet to cross off, scheduling time with friends and roommates prior to leaving…so much to do yet so little time…

With that being said, my Tri-S dinners have been helpful in gathering with fellow cohort members to reflect on the feelings above. For those who are unfamiliar with this concept, it is I who will break it down for you.

Tri-S: Spiritual, Sustenance and Soup

The cohort gets split into small groups and assigned with a leader, usually an LCC faculty member. It could well be one of your professors. They provide you with a home cooked meal in the comfort of their home.

First meeting: Your first ‘meet-up’ will be basic introductions and fun story time. You get to know your leader on a more personal level as well as your fellow group members. JoAnn made us a delicious Thai curry over rice, talk about YUM, and allotted us time to play a game before diving into the juicy stuff. And by juicy, I mean, getting real about how adjustment to LCC and Klaipeda in general has been. I remember sitting on her floor with a cup of tea listening to her give us an overview of the semester ahead thinking, what in the world did I get myself into.

Second meeting: Your second session will be POST-Russia. You will debrief about the trip, sharing good and bad stories…oh! And you will be able to sit and laugh about the Russian sauna because who doesn’t laugh at the fact that Russian women smack you with palm branches? Trust me, it sounds funky but it has been my favorite memory thus far. JoAnn again made us a delicious peanut curry over rice which we all enjoyed.

Third meeting: Reintegration, scary right? The thought was intimidating at first feeling as if it were so far away but it has come. JoAnn articulated many scenarios in which we may find ourselves in once we return. She gave us time to reflect on how we would respond to that many questions or lack of questions that will come. We thought about what we would miss and not miss about Lithuania as well as examining our personal growth. She encouraged us to take time to journal as it is a way to take care of ourselves and prepare for what is to come when we arrive back in the states. I left this final meeting excited for what awaits me at home but unusually empty – feeling that there is a part of me that does not want to leave.

I encourage you to take advantage of these three dinner sessions as they are crucial to your emotional well-being here at LCC. You will be amazed at where you started and where you will be at the very end.

– Cameron, Messiah College

Check it off the BUCKET LIST!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

This semester has flown by! It is hard to believe that we have been here just a short three and a half months. So much has happened from exploring Vilnius, travelling to Russia, walking around the Old Towns of Riga and Tallinn, and everything in between.

I know when I was preparing to come on my study abroad trip, I had a few (not many things) in mind that I wanted to see and do while in Lithuania and Europe in general. My bucket list consisted of seeing the Baltic Sea, going to different coffee shops, and making it to Poland. I am happy to say that I have done all of these things! I can check them off of my bucket list!

Some others from our cohort have also been checking off items from their bucket list in terms of travel, going to local spots in Klaipeda, deepening relationships with others, and even growing as individuals. In terms of travel, our study abroad students have been to Sweden, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Denmark and some even will be going to Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, and Greece by the time our semester ends or shortly thereafter.

Below are some adventures that our students have gone on to fulfill their bucket lists:


  • Rachel: Visiting Copenhagen has always been on my bucket list of places to travel to. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would live up to the expectations I had of it.”

  • Lauren: Ever since I learned about Europe and Poland I’ve always wanted to go. I’m part Polish. So even though I don’t speak the language, I’ve always wanted to see Poland and learn about the culture. I’ve also wanted to see Auschwitz.”

 

  • Erika:To spend a sunny day experiencing Palanga and biking around, eating waffles.”

 

  • Abby M.: As cheesy as it sounds, one big thing on my bucket list was to go on some unplanned adventures alone. This picture is from one of those adventures, just a little walk to a park near LCC. It was small, but it felt so freeing to feel a bit of independence and just walk wherever I felt like going.”                                                             

 

  • Abby H: My cousin grew up in Amsterdam but she sent most of her summers in the US with my family. I told her when I was maybe 9 or 10 that I would visit her in Amsterdam some day and this weekend I am going.” Abby H

As you can tell, we are continuing to check things off of our bucket list, especially during this upcoming weekend. With our time coming to an end rather soon, I have made a list of all I want to do in Klaipeda! This weekend, I am going to look for the sculptures in the city, and hopefully by next week I will have seen the sunrise while drinking coffee in Old Town and the sunset on the beach.

It’s good to have a few things to look forward to during your semester here, but most of my goals I made during my time here. I am so excited to see and experience all of my favorite things in Klaipeda in the upcoming weeks!

Here’s to rewarding experiences filled with so many memories!

 

~Megan

Messiah College

Making Klaipeda Your HOME

When I first arrived in here in Klaipeda I felt very uncomfortable. I was in a strange place away from home and in a different culture with a different language. As you can imagine I felt pretty scared, and this place didn’t feel like a home to me yet, just a place I was staying in for the next 4 months.

I came to realize though that the mindset I was currently in, was not the way I should go about the next few months so I started to change my mindset by deciding that Klaipeda was going to become my temporary home. I started by getting to know the area and getting out into Old Town and figure things out. I spent a whole day walking around by myself, through Old Town, just exploring and looking around, going down different streets and into different shops. I wrote down places that I thought looked good and that I wanted to try and started to make a bucket list of things to do and see.

The next step was actually doing those things. I started going out more, either by myself or with my friends and doing whatever I could. I went to tons of different coffee shops and tried their drinks and their food and did homework there. I tried different bakeries and different restaurants and tried things there. Eventually I found some of my favorite spots around Old Town and it began to be a comfortable place for me and actually start o feel like home. I learned different phrases in Lithuanian so I could order simple things or say things like hi, thank you and please.

Going out to explore and learning some of the language really helped me feel more at home here. Even coming back from Russia, I was so happy to be back in Klaipeda, I was so happy to be back in a place that I was familiar with and that I even understood the language more.

If you want to feel more at home here in Klaipeda, even if its just temporary, get out there and explore, go to restaurants, go to coffee shops, go to the festivals and events they have in town and in no time you’ll feel right at home here.

~Lauren

Roberts Wesleyan

Russia: Saint Petersburg Recap

After Moscow, the study abroad cohort spent the rest of Spring Break in SAINT PETERSBURG.

 

 

After our train ride from Moscow, we walked from the train station all the way to Soul Kitchen Hostel. It was like heaven entering the hostel and being greeted by such lovely people. Soul Kitchen definitely enhanced our time in Saint Petersburg and helped us to relax and unwind after our long days. Not only was it the coolest and most aesthetically pleasing place I have ever stayed in, every morning for breakfast, one of the nice employees baked us apple cake!! Did I already mention how this hostel was like heaven?!

 

 

During our time in Saint Petersburg, we saw so many sights and experienced a lot from the Russian culture. We explored the local neighborhoods and markets, seeing the homes of the main character and author from Crime and Punishment and trying local doughnuts along the way. Some of us were even excited to visit and buy souvenirs at the beautiful bookstore on the main road (which was also right next to Starbucks). I would definitely recommend stopping in!

 

 

Our days were also filled the visits to different museums, which were full of interesting information and collections. I visited the Kunstkamera, which is one of the first ever museums in Russia established by Peter the Great. It is an anthropology museum and also displays different scientific and anatomical finds of the time period. Other students visited the house of the Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, Peter and Paul’s Fortress, and the Grand Maket Russia. Everyone could choose their own options, and this made the experience quite unique and intentional. We also visited the Hermitage in Palace Square, which was so impressive. There is so much to see there! I would recommend going during your free time to the main building and the yellow building (where we saw Picasso paintings). Even at night for free time, the museums were open until 9 p.m., and it’s sort of fun being there when there aren’t a lot of people looking around.

 

 

Our evening activities were just as exciting and spectacular as what we did during the day. We attended Feel Yourself Russian in Nikolaevsky Palace. We watched and listened to amazing dancing and singing performances in Russian. The show was very interactive, and it was so much fun to be clapping along with the audience. The next night, we all dressed up for the Russian Ballet. It was a lot like going to prom with everyone fixing their hair and putting on our fancy (and by that point our only clean) outfits for the ballet. We saw Swan Lake, and it was incredible, truly captivating.

 

 

Some other sights included the different churches: St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Kazaan Cathedral, and Spilt Blood Church. All were masterpieces and breathtaking both inside and outside. Some of us even chose to go to St. Catherine’s palace, which was again another impressively beautiful sight. If you like the movie, Anastasia, then I would recommend going to see this palace. I felt like a princess walking into the different rooms that portrayed the royalty  who once lived there.

 

 

On the last day in Russia, the cohort visited the sauna. This is an experience I will never forget, and I would definitely recommend to future study abroad students. Not only was it a local, cultural experience, we got to meet some really nice women and enjoy our time at the sauna with them. It was so much fun and relaxing! Afterwards, we were ready to sleep as we left the city.

 

 

There was so much to do and see in Saint Petersburg. From bridges to churches to colorful buildings, it was an amazing city. Although our feet hurt after the long days, our hearts were full of all the memories we made on this journey.

 

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The trip to Russia has so much to offer. It is a ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity. I am incredibly grateful for the experience and the work of our amazing coordinators. I bonded with different people from the cohort, saw things I had only dreamed of seeing, and felt a deep sense of happiness and fulfillment from this trip.

Russia, спасибо (thank you) for all of the memories!

 

~Megan

Messiah College

Russia: Moscow Recap

Hey there friends, we just got back from the coolest spring break ever, Russia!! Our week in Russia has been the trip of a life time with so much to see and so many activities to do and getting to know people you haven’t gotten to know yet.

The first part of the trip was actually getting there. We spent 17 hours on a train and went through 2 boarder patrols before getting to Moscow. It was well worth it though because when we finally got there we had a walking tour all around the Kremlin and saw a ton of beautiful churches and buildings, most of which had gold in them.

At night, on our first day we got to see the circus. It was filled with amazing acrobatics, stunts, dances, costumes, and animals doing all sorts of amazing things. It was so cool and unlike anything we’ve ever seen, It kept us on the edge of our seats the whole time.

On our second day of Russia we all had a tour of the metro stations. Each one had intricate architecture and colors, it was so cool to see each metro station and get familiar with the metro. Next we went to Red Square and saw Saint Basil’s Cathedral also known as the Candy Church. It was such an amazing experience to see this building in person and finally be able to check it off the bucket list. We even got to go inside which was just as beautiful and intricate as the outside. After lunch we went to Vernishazh market which was filled with traditional Russian things like hats, Matryoshka dolls, scarfs, Faberge eggs and other souvenirs. A lot of people got to barter with the vendors for lower prices as well!

Later on we went to Christ the Savior Cathedral which was also very beautiful and covered from celing to floor in beautiful paintings, gold and chandeliers. Later that night we went down to Old Arbat street which had ton of shops and restaurants. We all found different restaurant’s to eat at, and a large group of us ate at old fashion diners.

For our last day in Moscow we had several options for activities, there was a traditional art museum, a modern art museum, and a business square. My group went to the traditional art museum called the Tretyakov Gallery that was filled with thousands of paintings, each so beautiful and unique with a different story to tell. It really made you think about each piece of art and appreciate it.

After a long day of going to museums we packed up all of our things and headed out for our next stop, Saint Petersburg.

Overall, Moscow did not disappoint, it was so beautiful and big with so much to see and do. In those first few days, we learned a lot about the culture and got to practice our Russian. It was a good way to start off our spring break, and there were even more amazing things to learn and see in Saint Petersburg.