Staring out at the rain-pattered window, I sat anxiously on a crowded bus, headed for Moscow. My train for Saratov was set to leave in an hour, whether I was on it or not. We had been driving for nearly four hours, when our bus grinded to a halt, nowhere near tour destination. I had only 40 minutes left to navigate the enormous and inevitably congested train station, in hopes of making my train by 12:01. While pondering how on earth this would be possible, the bus driver announced that this would be as far as he was going, due to the traffic; we would have to walk the rest of the way. Great! I not only have no idea where I am going, but its pouring rain and I have to lug all of my stuff there in about 20 minutes. And that’s what I did. I jumped off the bus, grabbed my bags and started running. The bus driver pointed me in the right direction and off I went, asking every person I happened to run into “where is the train station?” And you know what, I made it. I stepped onto the train and seconds later, I was on my way to family and friends.
It was that bus ride and subsequent train ride that made me realize so much about myself. As I sat listening to music and soft trickle of the rain, I understood that my parents did the very best job they could in raising me. I understood that though they have made choices that I don’t agree with, it’s not a reflection on me; I can let it go, forgive and be free. I understood that I was alone, travelling in Russia and never once doubted myself, never once thought that I couldn’t do it and never once looked back. I understood that in those few hours, I became a woman, a better human being and truly began to live a life of my choosing. I understood that the only one who stood in my way was me, and when I removed my self-imposed limitations, the opportunities were endless.
For me, Russia was an escape from the chaos, but through its bureaucratic serenity, I found what I was looking for. I was set free, reinvigorated and ready to return to my mom, my dad, my brother, and my amazing life. Russia reminded me just how precious life is and that you can’t let it slip away from you. This lesson is one that I will never forget.
Kelsey Guyette, OIE Peer Advisor