This semester at MGIMO has passed way too quickly. In total I’ve now spent almost a year in Moscow, and it’s been the most challenging year of my academic life.

In fact, it might have been the most challenging year of my life. But I’ve grown incredibly, both as a student and a human being. I’ve learned how to coexist with others – a priest even remarked to me and a friend that we’re going to make great husbonds, seeing as we’ve had to live in a tiny room with another person for two semesters.

On the Moscow river

I’ve learned how to deal with remarkable pain, both physically and emotionally. I nearly destroyed my foot in Nizhny Novgorod, and had to stay in Russia while my family was going through the loss of someone very close to us.

I’ve had to study to the point where I thought I didn’t have a life anymore, as I’ve sometimes had three tests in three different subjects in a single week.

With my brother in front of the Bolshoi theatre

My russian improved a lot, I’ve made friends, and I’ve met people I would never be able to forget even if I tried.

Before I went to Russia for a year, the longest I’d been away from home was for three weeks in South America. Needless to say, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Maybe I was going to have to give up at some point and return back home with my tail between my legs? I had to promise myself that no matter what, I was going to do whatever it took to withstand the pressure.

With a friend on the 9th of May

And now, almost a year later, I can reflect back and ask myself: was it worth it?

I’ve grown more mature, self confident, wise, patient and street smart. This semester I received 31 ECTS, something I never in my wildest dreams thought I could achieve.

Dinner with friends

I’ve learned that life is hardly ever fair, and that sometimes in life being an adult means making difficult choices. Some choices can be so hard that they make you feel like your back will break, but: some things are more important than others.

A year in Russia will make anyone cynical. Not overly so, neccessarily, but noticeably. Is that I bad thing, however? I would say no. Life is hard, and a fair bit of cynicism goes a long way.

Anna Karenina the Musical

In fact, if I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that overcoming suffering and trials make you appreciate life that much more.

Would I do it all over again if I had to? Undoubtedly.