I have come to a very painful realization. I am currently on something that could be described as an "existential journey."
I am very averse to describing periods in those kinds of terms. I have never enjoyed the feeling that to be considered a part of the American Intelligensia you have to be painstakingly self-reflective and read Vonnegut over your morning granola. Despite this, I have done what many people have do in challenging times: I have become that which I hate the most.
While I have been in Russia, I have been very aware of...myself. Seriously, it hurts me to say that. I would usually chalk sentences like that up to English majors and their ilk. None the less, I have found myself learning more about myself here than I have about any other topic, though I think that I may be saying that simply to attempt to justify to myself why I still can't speak this absurd language.
Since I have devoted myself unwillingly to the concept of my having an "existential journey," I will do it justice by saying that this is not limited to me simply learning that I really miss grilled meat (which I do) or that I long to shop at Wal-Mart (the American dream, in my mind). I feel that by existing in Russia's society as an outlier and, at best, a novelty, I have really learned more about how I exist within my home society. I realize this is all very abstract, and I expect very few people to read this and truly understand what I am saying (not because I think I am thinking on some higher plane, but mostly because I am rambling).
To be frank, I feel that the best aid in me becoming acquainted with myself (друг, not, знакомый (After reading this, I realize this is a very niche joke and that there may be, at max, three people who read this, understand it, and barely laugh.)) has been to get away from the society that I have existed in that has helped make me the person that I am. I am thankful for the people in my life that have influenced me and I fully embrace the cultural and societal oddities about Mississippi that have made me the person I am.
With that said, to get away from those people and influence, to leave behind my structures of support, has left me with the task of supporting myself, which is a big chore. It has been very beneficial for me, though. I feel I know more about myself now, and, as they say (to be truthful, I don't know who says this), knowing is half of the battle.
Where I think that I differentiate from our culture's popular obsession with self-reflection is that I am not in an existential flux or having a crisis in which I have found a new me that I can't reconcile with the previous me. Far from it, to be exact. At the end of the day, the Harrison that was in Oxford is the exact same Harrison that is in Russia, just nine hours ahead of time (Back to the Future?).