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The International Writers Magazine: Posted 2012 by sgumprecht

Packing for St. Petersburg
• Sasha
Tomorrow I will be packing up my bags here in Prague and setting out on the next leg of my journey. For over 5 years I have been dreaming of traveling to Russia, and that dream is now within reach of reality. The past 3 weeks since the TEFL course ended I have been working on getting a Russian work visa that will allow me to not only enter Russia, but work there as well for an extended period of time.
St Pete

My job in St Petersburg is teaching English at an international school of business English. I was very fortunate that my boss knew of another American teacher who needed a roommate, so now I have a place to live in the center of St Petersburg.

As of late, my mind has not been so much of Russia as it has been on some other aspects of my life.
Loneliness -
I can't hide it, I have been extremely lonely here is the past few weeks. The lonely feeling that I am not surrounded by any of my loved ones. Sometimes I’m envious of all the people I see at home who are settling down finding their niche, being able to have wonderful relationships and seem like they are in a very stable place. Part of me envies those who are continuing their studies and are enjoying an extended college life instead of living in the outside world. It brings me some sadness that I am not in that position. In the past 2.5 years I have moved what seems like half a dozen times. Whether that might be moving down the street, or to another town or state, I feel like its taken a lot out of me. I haven’t been able to find that safety net. No matter where I move to physically I know that I will have to pick up and leave before planting roots emotionally. Moving to New Orleans (for better or for worse some of the times there) was probably one of the best decisions I have made. It gave me a step up before I left for Prague, because I was around constant encouragement and positive energy telling me that I had this successful life ahead. Whether or not this is to be true will remain to be seen, until many years in the future when I can look over my shoulder and either smile or frown. Life as an expat in a foreign country is not as glorious as was first imagined. I hadn’t imagined it being this difficult to make friends where you don’t speak the same language. Back home I had no trouble in striking up a conversation, exchanging a few stories then getting out a good laugh. This new life is a huge adjustment to say the least.

I find myself questioning my choice to come over here. Did I come over because of a feeling of rebellion post college? Why am I wasting a year of my youth when I should be at home in the military or in grad school making a better future for myself? Why am I locking myself away from the people who love and care about me to go live in a little fantasy world far from reality? If I am so lucky to have friends and family who love me so, why am I running away from them? These are some of the questions that replay thru my mind.

Another aspect of my loneliness has come from still missing Lori. I know its been 6 months since her passing but that still hasn’t made dealing with her loss any easier. When I feel a weight pressing on my chest, I remind myself not to cry because she would be so proud of me and ecstatic that I am out on an adventure just being free. That’s all Lori wanted me to be: free. Free from the harsh conditions that I lived with under my moms iron thumb, but also free from the restraints I always put on myself. Free from this pressure I thought I was under, like a thousand eyes of the world were upon my every move.

Lent –
Although I am not Catholic, every year I enjoy joining the millions of other Catholics in Lent festivities. For the past couple years I have always come up with something I should give up for 40 days. One year is was peanut butter, another sugar and I think last year it was alcohol. This year I had a bit more trouble coming up with something to give up. I felt a bit lame giving up a food item, as it seemed more of a diet than something religious. I began an online search on ideas of Lent, when I ran across a Christian website that listed 40 ideas and questions about Lent. One of the questions I read that was supposed to help one come up with Lent ideas was, “What is something that is going to bring you closer to Jesus after the 40 days are up?” It dawned on me that I should not be focusing on subtracting from my life but adding to it, to enrich it. My Faith has grown immensely since my parents’ divorce and Lori’s death. Sometimes I feel that my saddest times are when I feel furthest away from God. These are times when I forget to pray or forget to read my Bible. For Lent, I am going to try to take more time out of my day to pray. Pray to help heal the sadness inside of me and also pray for guidance on this journey. I understand that life is full of the highs and lows, and it is just a matter of sticking it out, riding the waves until they crash gently on the sandy shores.

I feel as though I am not just packing up my belongings for St Petersburg, but my boxes of thoughts and backpack of emotions that I will come to sort thru along this journey.
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