Fluttering skirts, rhythmic tapping of pointe shoes, dense air- the kind that is formed from hundreds of people holding their breaths in anticipation and admiration, gentle and perfectly apt music. Conscious: using the information my body is scavenging out to connect the puzzle pieces and understand the plot. Unconscious: digesting the information all 5 senses are providing me with and placing it in some distant compartment of my brain that has never before been opened and analyzed, perhaps because all of the tiny mosaics of information collected over my lifetime have not been enough to see the big picture. While sitting in Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and watching the brilliant performance of Swan Lake, I was struggling to keep myself awake; a long 12 hour flight resulted in severe sleep deprivation and resulted in me experiencing the ballet in, what seemed like, two different dimensions. As soon as my body began to enter the phase of unconsciousness once again, I was woken up by loud cheering, clapping, and an atmosphere of thrilled energy. The performance was over. My family and I slowly got up, just like everyone else, and began leaving the building, discussing the performance and our thoughts on it. I contributed to the discussion by accessing and reflecting on the information my conscious self so kindly stored for me in an easy-to-reach shelf in my brain. Smalltalk made the time pass rather quickly, and before we knew it, we had safely arrived home. Several days had passed. We spent them exploring my hometown of Moscow, Russia: visiting famous art galleries, indulging in traditional Russian food, and exploring the Kremlin and Red Square by foot. On the 5th day, we packed our bags and got onto the speedy Sapsan train to continue to our next destination: St. Petersburg. The Sapsan is unique because it travels at over 250 kilometers per hour, allowing the trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg to be comparatively quick, but yet long enough to allow for several hours of staring out the window and thinking. That is exactly what I did: I took in the beauty of the changing landscapes and let my subconsciouness take over once again. As I was thinking of the past several days in Moscow: the people, the customs, the language, I once again felt like I did not completely belong there. I have been pulled into several cultural directions my entire life and, despite my intensive efforts, have never been able to attribute myself to either culture completely. Because I was born in Russia and my family continued cultivating the Russian language and traditions at home, I was not completely Americanized in the 13 years of permanently residing in the U.S.; therefore, both cultures have been, and continue to be, and major part of who I am. I had been subconsciously collecting heritage mosaics my entire life by residing in the US and visiting Russia every year. Each year, a new piece would be added as I visited more museums and saw more theatrical performances and ballets. However, up until that point, I did not have enough pieces to see the big picture. The Sapsan ride had added the final piece to the mosaic and made me realize that instead of trying to attribute myself to a particular culture, I simply had to accept my diverse heritage. Traveling the world is amazing not only because you get to learn about other cultures but also because it forces you to look at the world from a new perspective, revealing things about yourself you might not have been aware of.
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