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luliia Dudkina: Momentous Move from Moscow to the Mid-Atlantic

luliia Dudkina

Explore a journey spanning continents and cultures, from the heart of Russia to Moscow, and now to the promise of America. Discover the unfolding life of a young girl through language, friendships, and the bittersweet experience of moving halfway across the world.

This is the story of my life

And I write it every day,

I know it isn’t black and white

And it’s anything but gray.

I know, that no, I’m not alright,

But I’ll be OK

Cause anything can, everything can happen...

That’s the story of my life! © Bon Jovi

The typical life of a 13-year-old girl can be like riding a roller-coaster; some days are interesting and wonderful, but some days can be confusing and dramatic, and some days can be a combination of both. For instance, consider coming in from your summer sports camp to be greeted by your mother telling you that she and your father had something important to discuss with you, then consider the jolt you would have when your parents inform you the family is moving, not across town or to another city, but to the other side of the world.

My story begins in our small two-bedroom apartment in Veliky Novgorod, Russia when I was two. We lived in a small two-bedroom apartment in Veliky Novgorod with my mom, dad and a cat. This city is in Russia by the way. And that’s where my story begins.

My mom decided to speak English with me, not just Russian. She thought it would help me to absorb the language during my toddler years. Of course, I could start learning English when I’d be a teenager and hate it, like most of my friends, but my mother had different plans for me.

My mom practiced with me every day, and I’m so glad she did it. She transformed English from a painful subject in a school classroom to a way to watch movies, read books, and talk to other people around the world. One of my fondest memories of my English-speaking childhood is a week-long trip to London when I was seven. Although the cost of the trip was a strain on our family budget, my mother considered the cost worthwhile. We came home with suitcases filled with books that were important to improving my budding English language skills.

When I turned 11, my family moved to Moscow. That was a really hard time for me, because I didn’t want to leave my old house, my playground and friends. I tried not to lose touch with my friends after my move, but I was bewildered by their lack of interest in my efforts to contact them. It was as though I did not exist, and they moved on with their lives.

Moscow seemed so huge and annoying at first, but it became my home.

My two years in Moscow were probably the best time of my life so far. My initial impression of Moscow did not last, and I discovered it to be a wonderful city with many breathtaking places to visit. Moscow’s most important feature for me, though, was it is the home of what I consider to be life-long friends. I sometimes think that meeting a real friend is like falling in love. You just click. I am not sure how it works with love though, but I know how it works with friends.

Unfortunately, I discovered that good times pass into periods of confusion and pain. It was at that point that I was building lasting friendships when I came home from my summer sport camp and my mom said there was something she and dad needed to tell me. I felt strange inside and probably guessed a bit that...we were moving again.

And I was right. But it was not just a move, it was a bold one.

My mother led me into our Moscow kitchen where I sat down with her and my father, when she told me, “Dad’s got a new job; we are moving to America.” At the moment my parents told me about the move, I was excited by moving to a big, wonderful country that I had learned so much about. But soon I began to face painful realities.

Not a lot of time passed before I began to realize I would be leaving my new Moscow home and my way of life and new friends. A child’s view of the world is contained within her home, her family and her friends. I never thought I would live outside of Russia, but as our time grew closer to leaving, I began to understand that home, family, and friends build the experiences that shape a life. I came to understand that those connections I wanted to keep would soon be stretched half-way around the world.

Soon after the anticipated thrill of moving to an exciting and mysterious home, I began realizing what I would be leaving.  Once I came to that realization, I cried almost every day; tears kept coming out of me like from a rain cloud. But I managed it, and it’s a huge surprise for me. The hardest thing before leaving was to say goodbye to my archery team. We cried and laughed and cried again altogether. Thank God there is internet and messengers, we are in touch and hopefully will not lose each other.

The first 3 weeks were hard for me, but as time went by, this heartache began to fade. It wasn’t as difficult for me to accept that I was leaving Moscow as it was before. At a slow pace, the furniture started to disappear from the apartment. Soon it was brimming with boxes and bags. The excitement of moving rose and I was really looking forward to the flight!

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