A lot of people ask me if I miss America. It’s a hard question to answer, because “America” includes a lot… like a whole lot… some of which I miss, some of which I don’t really notice isn’t around anymore, and some of which I was glad to get away from. So here are some thoughts from that, not including people, because I feel like that wouldn’t be fair.
I miss: peanut butter. I don’t know why I thought I’d be fine without it for a year. So far, I’ve looked in more than ten different stores and found nothing. I’ve literally had dreams about the futile search for peanut butter in Russian grocery stores… in one, I found a shelf full of jars that looked like PB jars, but when I got close I found that they were all full of Nutella and other fake nut butters.
I don’t miss: American restaurants. Food in Russian restaurants seems just as good, and 4-5 times cheaper. Plus people here have already started to recognize us!
I miss: my dog. Every time I skype with Mom and Dad, he comes and whines at the iPad/computer and tries to “get me” through the screen. How cute is that?
I don’t miss: my cat, that much. Sorry Hummer. It’s not like I wanted to get away from you; you’re just not that interesting.
I miss: being able to talk to my friends at normal times of day. Because when I’m free in the mornings, everyone in EST is asleep. And when I’m free in the evenings, everyone in EST is at work. The 8-hour time difference was easier to handle when I and all of my friends were students, but now that we work normal, grown-up hours, it’s very inconvenient. On weekdays, I have to call people at the crack of dawn or the middle of the night.
I don’t miss: American public transportation. Always late, usually expensive, and rarely takes you where you actually want to go.
I miss: fall. Fall here lasted about two weeks, I heard… we only caught the second of those weeks. Then there was Almost-Winter, which was the month and a half of cold, clouds, wind, ice, and precipitation that remained above 10 degrees F. Now we are in Winter-Winter, which means that the sun sets around 2:45pm and the temperature is hanging around 0 F / -18 C. Meanwhile at Notre Dame…
I don’t miss: my car. Watching people scrape ice off their windshields here is physically painful, because I have such poignant memories of doing that myself last winter. And it was warmer in South Bend.
I miss: clear sidewalks. I don’t think there’s any sort of encouragement from the city of Ukhta for people/businesses to clear snow and ice off of walkways, because there’s just 3 solid inches of packed down ice literally everywhere.
I don’t miss: a dishwasher. If I had one here, I would never use it, because handwashing is much more convenient when you only have two cups and four plates to go around.
I miss: a microwave. Cooking would be more fun if I knew I could reheat leftovers tomorrow.
That’s all I can think of for now. But good news: I made an acquaintance who has some extra jars of peanut butter from Malta lying around the house, and she’s going to give me one! 😀