Lost And Found

Bianda Nathania Putri (INA AFS to Russia YP 16–17)

Like the (g)old quote says: new year, new me. It might sound so mainstream, but somehow I felt that. I can finally fully accept the differences around me without thinking ‘oh, it’s different from my native country’ or comparing it to another anymore. The only thought on my mind is: “It’s Russia.” I am adapting. I am accepting. Everyday I found new cultures that I never know before and it is something that I am grateful for. I can finally see the real color of surrounding and it is something that I can’t explain by words, to be honest. And I am going to explain you the reason why chose that title.

Talking about new year, this year’s was extremely the best way to celebrate new year for me, despite Mr. Vladimir Putin talked for 5 minutes before the d-day. Yes, I was happy to see him talking and giving advises, but to spent time with my host-family and went outside the street to see fireworks without thick clothes (the temperature was below zero, anyway) was something that I won’t forget. Oh, for your information… for most Russian, new year is one of the most important day. So that’s why people so hyped about it and usually stay with their family instead of going out with friends. Two or a week before new year, you can see colorful light in every houses, big Christmas tree, Santa Claus stickers, and commercial paper written: С НОВЫМ ГОДОМ (Happy New Year). With little touch of snow in my small settlement, it became more beautiful. The day before, I made homemade Sushi with my host-family and it taste delicious, surprisingly. I thought this little hand of mine would ruin the taste of it. But hey, I am secretly a chef after all this time.

Short story, right after the first day of 2017, I headed to Moscow for Winter Social Project. It is an annual event held by AFS for both Russian and AFS students. There we will experience, learn, and understand other cultures and language. We, the exchange students, worked as support team which means we experienced how half-volunteering works and feels like. I finally reunited again with my Indonesian squad and other exchange students. Even though the temperature was -28 until -40 degrees Celsius (yes, you heard me, I experienced -40 and it was the coldest Christmas for Moscow after 120 years), I could feel the warmth around them, all those amazing people from the camp. And not only that, we also celebrated Russian Christmas on the 7th of January.

It was a funny story, actually. So, our head coordinator for support team is Aleksandar Todorovich–or we call him just Sasha–from Serbia. The night of Russian Christmas, he told us that he wanted to go back to his university because he had his exam. And of course, we felt a bit sad because he won’t coordinate us anymore. But, surprisingly, when we already had a sleep around 02:00 in the morning (I just closed my eyes for 20 minutes, I guess), I heard a very noisy sound outside my room. “A group of people sing,” I thought to myself. Then, someone knocked our door and told us to wake up. I opened the door and saw all the volunteers with their amazing Russian costumes, danced and sang Russian song. “It’s a tradition, wake up!” I was half laughing and half crying too, because… really, I wanted to sleep! With my eyes half opened, I went to our corpus hall and stayed there about 3 minutes just to hear what is our instruction next. And, another surprisingly moment, one of the volunteer will tell us the fortune: how many kids will we have in the future? Guess, people, I will have 2 daughters.

The last day of Winter Social Project, we went to the center of Moscow. First we went to the old 1991 game museum. You can play the old game machine such as shooting, strength testing, Russian war submarine, etc. After that we directly went to The Red Square. There, finally, I can see one of UNESCO World’s Heritage Site: Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It was such a breathtaking masterpiece with a dark story behind the making of it: Ivan The Terrible, Russian Tsar at that time blinded the architecture eyes. The reason behind that was to make that masterpiece as the one and only in the world, so the architecture can’t make it anymore. I was so amazed until I forgot to buy souvenirs. But nothing to worry about. the view, worth my time.

But not long after those excitements, Krasnodar region–which is my chapter, had to go to the station because we were leaving sooner. Remembering Russia is too big to travel, of course, I was so sad to leave all my friends (both Russian and AFS). I felt warmness around them and to let them go was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. From that, I realized that, you never know how important something or someone is, until you lost it. But I am sure, this friendship that I got with them will remain forever.

Because…

Distance means nothing

When someone means everything, doesn’t it?

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