Well, it’s safe to say that this last week has been one of the most stressful weeks of my life. I came back from a great trip to Holland to tons of commitments and things to do. Last Wednesday I started my 3000-word essay, managed to have a solid draft done by Friday, and submitted it yesterday. They are so high-maintenance about essays here, besides submitting a version online, you have to turn in two paper copies to a special drop box, both with a coversheet that has the exact word count and all sorts of information on it. Too much work.
This last Friday we finally found out our exam dates for the spring, which has been stressing me out like crazy. Since I found out I was accepted into Luther’s Nottingham program, my plan has always been to go to Russia for the last two weeks after my spring exams, before I go back to Minneapolis for the summer. Exams start on May 19 and go until June 6. This semester, I’ll be writing an additional 4000-word essay instead of sitting the exam for my history class, which is nice not to have to worry about that quite yet. Unfortunately, I have my Polish exam on June 5, which sincerely fucked up my plans.
After finding out that there is no possible way for me to take my Polish exam early, on Tuesday I finally got my shit together and bought all my plane tickets. I’ll be heading back to the 612 come June 22, a grave error since I just realized today that, since June 22 is a Sunday, liquor stores will be closed in MN!!! This is a terrible travesty, since my first stop home from the airport was going to be East Lake Liquor, so I could buy my first ever legal 6-pack of Nordeast. I’ll probably be too jetlagged to drive to Hudson and buy some booze on my first 21+ day in the US, so my first ever legal alcohol purchase will have to wait until Monday morning. Life’s not fair. I’ll be coming back so late in the summer, but there’s really not much I can do about it. In some ways I think it’ll be good, since I’ll be able to really enjoy the last of my time here in England.
Besides my plane ticket home, I also finally bought my tickets to Russia. I’ll be flying to Moscow on June 7, and then flying back to London from St. Petersburg on June 20. This will be the most nerve-wracking but exciting solo trip of my life!!! There are a lot of things that are out of my control, particularly everything that has been happening in Ukraine/the Crimea. Things like that are so unpredictable, it’s really impossible to tell what the situation will be like by the time I’m going to Russia. I’ve accepted that by the time I’m leaving, it might be seriously unsafe for me to go, or I might not be allowed to travel there. These are both possibilities that I have considered, and if I blow money on a trip that might not happen, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Russia is it for me: it’s the dream. Russia is my dream. I can’t really even imagine what it will like when I’m finally there, hanging out in the Kremlin and walking down the staircase in the Hermitage. It’s the dream.
I’ve had a lot of people either tell me not to go/essentially try to scare me out of traveling to Russia by myself as a woman. But I refuse to let “being a woman” stop me from following my dream. Not to turn this trip into a battle of Maja vs. The Patriarchy, but there are women in Russia who walk around by themselves every day. There are probably even women in Russia who aren’t Russian who walk around by themselves every day! I have gained indispensable experience as an independent female traveler this year, and my trip to Russia will just require more caution than my other solo trips. If I didn’t think I could do it, I really wouldn’t be going.
Okay, I’m pretty much done justifying why I should be allowed to go for my dreams. All this being said, I really appreciate love and support as I get ready for this trip and as I follow my dream! Since I have to have a visa to go to Russia (and have to be invited to apply for the visa), this trip is already more stressful than most. I’m kind of under a time limit, since I have to have it all figured out and have my passport back by the time I leave for my month of traveling over spring break, which is April 11. Hopefully the process will go smoothly and I can get my visa/passport without any major problems! Prayers and good thoughts for a peaceful solution with the situation in Ukraine/the Crimea wouldn’t hurt either. There are so many things in the world we can’t control, but positive energy is always possible.
Now that I’ve finally had a few days in Notts, I’ve been able to catch up on homework and start seriously planning out my spring break. Tomorrow we leave on a flat trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, which I think will be really fun. Then I have one more week until my best friend comes to visit me! And then once he leaves, only a few more days before my next month of travel! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. Just a few more months until I’m back home in the 612!