Getting Lost

Generally people speak of getting lost as a negative thing. You lost a bet, you lost your shoe. You got lost in a city and it took you a long time to find your way to where you were going. Trying to learn Russian in Narva has been a series of getting lost in homework that became much harder when you looked at it in your room. Getting actually lost in a small city where you thought a local restaurant was, but it appears now to be a second hand clothing store. Getting lost has been quite a good time.

One of the first nights in Narva a group of three students set out and traversed this city, walking up streets to walk, looking at signs to read, and trying to understand where things were. Some of the unexpected things we found have become places we now enjoy going to.

We are too often here lost, and begin to feel sad and alone. Too often after an enthusiastic professor shoves several handouts to us, laughing and singing in Russian a rhyme about hard work makes better lives, we become comatose with fright at the thought of having to face the work, lost in the complexities of what we are about to do.

When lost in the city, thankfully, the sun shines almost 24 hours a day, so we don’t have to worry about it getting dark too early. When lost in our work, we remember we are here to learn, and to become found by learning, not to escape our work, but to become familiar and grow in it.

Maybe seeing Russian as something to aspire to, almost a quest, perhaps a chance to find something amazing should be the mindset. When given homework, they are clues to unlocking a mystery, and this mystery will lead to so many amazing revelations through conversations every day we have the chance to speak to someone from this amazing place.

-James Flanagan


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