This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Right: Baize Buzan ’10. Photo credit: Courtesy of Baize Buzan ’10

Baize Buzan ’10 Reports on Her Return from JYA

It’s been two months since I returned from the land of matryoshki, borscht, and Chekhov. I spent my fall semester as a student of the Moscow Art Theater School, doing something that once seemed totally incomprehensible to me — living in Russia. Sometimes, it seemed too good to be true: my ballet teacher was a retired prima ballerina of the Bolshoi, lunch breaks often consisted of a five-minute walk to Red Square just to stare at the glorious St. Basil’s, and to top it all off, I saw the most theater I’ve ever seen in my life — about 40 shows total during the course of my stay. But then, of course, came the harsher realities of it all — attending class for eight hours a day, six days a week, trying to simultaneously learn the Russian language and the Cyrillic alphabet, and being really, really far away from all things, people, and places familiar. The semester was a fantastic blur of all of these things and more; so much, in fact, that I often had to simply remind myself where I was, what I was doing, and how extraordinarily lucky I was to be able to experience all of it.

And before I knew it I was back, back at home in Boston, and then back to school in Poughkeepsie, and I’ve learned that perhaps the best thing about missing people and missing places and missing things is how sweet it feels to reunite. Now I have something new to miss, and her name is Russia. But she is not so far away; she pops up unexpectedly, intermittently, as I go about my life at Vassar. When I sip soup at ACDC, when my body moves as gracefully as I can will it to in ballet class, when I listen to my Russian literature teacher talk about Moscow and my heart swells so much I am nervous the people next to me can sense it — in those moments, I know she’s there.

I’ve been struggling to quantify what my time abroad taught me, but I have found that these little moments are helping. Each time my fall and spring semesters collide, and an experience I had in Russia somehow illuminates one that I am having in Poughkeepsie, I feel I am solving a piece of that mysterious puzzle. And I grow even more secure in the knowledge that I have yet another sweet reunion in store.

March 2009

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