Coming from a small town in New Jersey and attending college at a relatively small campus, I am not a person who spends a long time getting from one place to another. On average, it takes me about ten minutes to get from my dorm room to any of my classes and the general amount of time I spend traveling is such a small fraction on the clock that I have not even consciously considered it to be a relevant part of my day.
All of that changed once I got to Moscow.
When I first learned that my host mom lives 50 minutes by metro from the university I will be studying in, I was a bit worried. I thought that this was an inconvenience that would negatively affect my experience, especially since I would have to leave the apartment no later than 8:00AM every day to make it to class on time. This remained true for the first two or three days. For someone that can leave fifteen minutes on foot before class, I struggled with the routine of the long commute. I am used to the close accessibility of my dorm wherever I may be on any given day, and not having this convenience certainly instilled a slight bother that I thought would last the entire semester.
However, this quickly changed. By the end of my first week in Moscow, this almost hour-long commute became natural to me. Besides the inherent tiredness in the early morning, I was not bothered by the travel. It actually began to affect my experiences here quite positively: because my travel time is a sizable part of my day, I am encouraged to make the most of my time when I am out in the city. I joined a gym close to the university so I can work out after classes and after excursions (which is more frequent than I usually do in America, despite playing a college sport). On weekends, especially as the weather remains as beautiful as it is now, I take long strolls along scenic paths and streets to absorb the beauty of Moscow for as long as I can.
My initially painful commute influenced me to become much more energetic and active. Although I cannot say for sure, I’m convinced that if I lived significantly closer to school or the city center, I would spend less time trying to get to know the city. Knowing myself, whenever I feel tired after a long day, I will immediately find my way home. However, living a decent amount of time away from the busy parts of Moscow has truly made me maximize my free time so I do not feel like I am wasting the day. Sometimes, the hardest part of living away from home is letting go of any convenience or luxury that we are used to. But at the same time, I would argue that it is also the greatest thing we can subject ourselves to. For me, it has assured that every day I spend in this beautiful city will be one filled with great adventures.