The first sunrise I had ever seen was in Moscow. It was five in the morning and my roommate Rachel and I couldn’t sleep. After all, we had collapsed on our beds after that nasty ten-hour plane ride, sleeping all the way through dinner. We awoke at two in the morning and found ourselves stuck in a hotel in a foreign country with a language that we weren’t quite fluent in. For about an hour we tried to grasp the creative mindsets behind the odd Russian music videos. We pieced together the storylines by the scenes in the video before eventually giving up.
Desperate for that first adventure, we decided to explore the hotel ourselves. Although it was just a Holiday Inn, it was a treasure trove of culture. Every corner held a money-exchanging machine, a Russian newspaper stand, or even a grumpy security guard that reprimanded us in Russian. In the lobby we carried a conversation with an employee using our scarce vocabulary. We knew the words, but they were hard to formulate under pressure, and we ended up sounding like broken records. After excusing ourselves, we ran up to the top level in the stairwell, dodging glances from the security guard.
The orange glow of the morning sun began to rise over the grimy buildings of Moscow, dulling the bright neon lights and brake lights of cars. The sun stretched out over the sky quickly. Rachel turned to me, her eyes wide with excitement. In that moment, I was so proud of all I had accomplished. I had saved up more than a year for this experience, slaving away at my job over the summer and school year. I had been looking forward to it since 6th grade, when we watched the video that the previous classes took on their trips. And now, it was finally happening. I had a whole week ahead of me in the far away land, full of new things to try, things I could have never imagined.
I grabbed Rachel’s hand and we headed down to breakfast, our enthusiastic expressions clashing with our classmates’ droopy eyes. As we headed out the door, I gave the mean security guard a huge, toothy smile. His irritable demeanor dropped and he extended his hand towards the door, grinning. I shielded my eyes from the bright sun. It was time for all my hard work to finally pay off.
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