Thursday, June 18, 2015

Things you need to know if you're planning to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy as an international student.

   1) You are essentially a human ATM. It's very very expensive and if there's a class to be cancelled, it's going to be yours. The Russian students are the number one priority and not usually, but sometimes, it greatly shows. 
    2) You're going to have to lose weight. Plain and simple, you have to fit their ideals. It's hard and they're not going to baby you. It's one of your responsibilities to be in "proper form". That's really hard for me and other people who are easily affected by that kind of criticism, so beware. I've seen dancers go down in flames due to eating issues and depression. Know yourself and how you'll react before you come here. 
    3) Also on the topic of eating. When you get here the academy students will tell you all different things about the academy food. I know I've complained a lot about it but really, just go down to the meals and try it for yourself. Figure out if it'll work for YOU. (But don't trust the hot dog looking things. Just don't.) 
    4) Switch your cell phone plan to T-Mobile or another company with international data because wifi and routers for internet are a pain to deal with here. The wifi system and connection is so bad here and you can buy a russian wifi router (as my roommates and I have done, twice.) and then it'll stop working. You take it to the wifi store and they say "The whole system is down. Nothing we can do." It's safer to get some fast data and use the academy wifi in the lounge when you can.
    5) The dorms are dirty. They just are. Be prepared for the worst and hope to be pleasantly surprised. The first few showers that you will take here are rough.  Bring flip flops.  Trust me.
    6) Really work hard at learning the language. Once you understand Russian, it's the key to everything. Making friends, buying anything really, the overall experience will be greatly enhanced if you don't have to rely on already fluent friends. 
     7) Unless you just really, really love Russia for some're going to be really homesick. You're going to be sad sometimes because it's stressful here. But I promise, if you work hard and step up to the plate, you're bound to experience the most rewarding year (and maybe more) of your life. Use the opportunity you've been given and make it yours. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sorry for the long, long intermission in between blog posts. But lately we've been intensely preparing for our final dance exams which left barely any time for sleep, let alone blog posts. But HOORAY, this past Thursday we finished our final exam and I have officially started my 'going home countdown' and I've celebrated passing grades in all 6 of my classes! 
This semester has been such a learning experience. I've learned a lot about myself, and the world around me. Not to mention I learned to shave my legs and wash my hair in under 2 minutes because the academy showers are THAT bad.
I've learned a language, not fluently, but for 8 months of studying and the memory of a goldfish I'm pretty proud with how much I've learned.
I've learned a lot about being a good friend, relationships are a lot harder to maintain when you're over 5000 miles away.
I've learned a lot about religion. In a country where Catholicism is the number one religion and my best friend/roommate is Mormon and I live next door to atheists and I've been raised baptist my whole life, you learn a lot.
I've learned a lot about being mature. It's more than being able to carry on an intelligent conversation with adults. You have to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with yourself.
I've learned a lot about criticism. You have to be one part 'grow a thick skin and get over it' and one part 'maybe I'm not as big as I thought I was'.
And I've learned a lot about ballet. It's a part of me. It's not something I can do forever, or even want to do forever. But it's shaped me. 
Living abroad has turned me into Emma, in my truest form.