I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia for a little over four months in 2011. Most of my weeks were spent teaching kids English, or prepping lessons for those classes. Weekends were for sight seeing, but we really didn't want to be outside for too long.
We arrived in in Russia in January. January temperatures in St. Petersburg sit below freezing, and you average about 7 hours of sunlight a day. The sidewalks were caked with inches of ice, and 8 foot icicles hung from roofs. My own breath would be redirected by my scarf to instantly condense and freeze on my glasses.
This may have you wondering why I would ever want to go to Russia.
I loved my time in Russia. There were scary hostels, a near kidnapping, and weird food – but there was also beautiful art, hilarious kids and a richer history than I could wrap my head around. Living there has largely shaped who I am today.
Thinking back on it today, I realized something. Despite all the momentous occasions of my time in St. Petersburg, some of my favorite moments didn't have much to do with the city at all.
In the winter I would visit my friend Areil at her small apartment across from the kindergarten. We'd eat cookies and drink tea and talk and look out the window. Nicole would often be with me, and we'd discuss music or our families or what we wanted from life. It was everything and anything in-between.
In the spring we'd spend any time we could outside. We were suddenly getting 16 hours of sunlight. After the most brutal winter of my life, the tulips and sunlight were so welcome.
We ate a lot of ice cream in the spring. We'd buy individually wrapped cones in grocery stores and sit outside on the curb. My favorite was mint chocolate chip. We basked in the warmth, watched people sun bathe along the river, or laughed at a boy cramming a 2 liter bottle in his bicycle spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle.
Those are the times that I truly miss. I loved the simplicity of those memories and the comfortable feelings that went with them. They were all about building relationships and enjoying the company of people who were desperately important to me.
I'm only 24, but relationships seem to become more precious to me as time goes on.
I want to make sure I'm making more of those memories.