Prepping for Russia by Katie Ford

Wow.  Two days until I leave for Moscow, Russia.  I’ve waited for this day for seven years, and it still crept up on me!  Everyone keeps asking, “Are you ready for Russia?” and all I want to do is run screaming in the opposite direction.  But I smile and nod so I don’t freak them out.  I feel so unprepared, but, as a comfort, I don’t think anyone who has studied abroad felt completely prepared before they left.  I have the panic of realization setting in that I will be in a totally new environment soon.  Vera, my professor, has already apologized in advance for our first impression of Moscow: the SVO airport.  The website describes it as “soulless.”  So that makes me feel great. NOT.  There are so many other random thoughts and feelings running through my head right now.  It’s hard for me to keep it all straight.

My room is a complete disaster (worse than usual I mean).  I’m trying to unpack everything from school and then repack it for Moscow.  It is a long, confusing process, so checklists help.  I have a hard time packing for a little one-week vacation, so just imagine my daunting task of packing 10 weeks’ worth of things in, let’s say, one suitcase and one carry-on.  Talk about pressure!  The weather in Athens right now is around 70 degrees; in Moscow it is around 30 degrees with rain and snow expected all week.  And by the time we leave Moscow in June it will be in the upper 60s.  So I have to pack for totally opposite temperatures.  Not only that, but I worry that my clothes will scream AMERICAN.  But I’ve toned down the pink and bought more black.  It’s all a big headache.

I am also paranoid that I will forget something I need that I won’t be able to find in Russia, so I’ve been writing down everything I need and sorting my stuff into piles in my room the keep some kind of organization. On top of that, I have to keep in mind size/weight limits for traveling, in addition to the space I will need to return to the US with souvenirs for friends and family.  My brain’s going to explode by Monday.

It sounds cliché, but there are no words to describe the feelings I have about this trip.  But I will do my best.  Of course I feel excited, because this is an opportunity I’ve worked hard for, and I’m ready to experience something else besides the usual college student life of schoolwork, cornhole, and Court Street.  I feel nervous, because I know nothing of my host family besides their names, address, and lack of pets.  I hope they like me, and that I like them.  I bought them gifts, as is customary, so at least I’m on the right track!  I feel sad, because I’ll be missing my OU friends, and especially my family.  I think it is inevitable that I will be homesick at least once.  But the wonders of technology will see me through I’m sure.  Lastly, I’m feeling extreme curiosity, which is one of the reasons why I’m going in the first place. I’m curious about everything from their dining to their metro.  So many questions, and 10 weeks to discover the answers.

I need to keep packing.  Moscow awaits!

Visit Katie’s full-length blog covering her experiences at


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