This post is the first of a new category of posts where I will be sharing experiences of what it is like to live in Russia, especially as a black womxn.
People keep asking me about why I picked Russia out of all the places I could have chosen. In this blog post I want to answer this question so that I have something to refer people to next time I am asked this question.
As an awkward teenager books were a sanctuary, one of my favourite authors in my early teens was Eva Ibbotson. Eva’s descriptions of East Europe were the first influence that sparked a curiosity in me for this region of the world. A few years later I read Elizabeth Kostova’s book The Historian and this book solidified my fantasies of Russia and East Europe.
I knew I wanted to study abroad to widen my perspective on the world and to be able to look at the problems that face me at home from a distance because being in the middle of it all was becoming overwhelming and making me disillusioned about change and transformation. Western Europe was not an option because it has never really appealed to me since I have been bombarded with its History, its influence on Africa and its current politics all my life. Since Europe wasn’t really an option I started looking at study opportunities at the Top Universities in Asia and North and South America.
I had been so busy just trying to survive over the last couple of years that I forgot about most of my childhood/teenage dreams and fantasies. While trying to adult I got an email from my previous University about study opportunities in Russia, Seeing Russia in that email made me curious. I was curious to see if the perceptions that the world has on Russia from what we see in the media is correct, I wanted to be able to disprove stereotypes and myths of Russia in the same way that I want stereotypes, negative perceptions and myths of Africa to change.
My curiosity, Childhood fantasies and a study opportunity brought me to Russia is the simplest explanation for why I am in Russia right now.
This is probably one of the bravest things that I have ever and will ever do in my life. Russia is cold, the language is difficult and being far away from home is horrible but this adventure is one that I am glad I took. I am learning so much about this country, the world and myself and these lessons would not be what they are if I was somewhere else.