This past weekend I went with hiking with some local Russians into the Taiga forest. It was a great opportunity to explore the natural world of Russia and getting to interact with Russians on a more personal level. The group that I went with was made up of Russian students who were learning English and some of their teachers, so I was able to teach them some things in English and learn some new phrases in Russian. We all met at a train station and took a forty-five minute ride to a stop that dropped us off in the middle of nowhere.
After the train moved on, we entered into the woods and began our hike.
Since they went as a class group, we decided to find a good spot in which to take a photo of everyone.
The students and teachers together on the edge of a cliff.
On our descent down we found a place to swing. So a few of the students and teachers decided to try it out.
After we finished up with the swing, we crossed a small but stable bridge to get to the other side of the river for lunch.
While out in the woods, people would figure out ways to accomplish their goals if they did not have the equipment needed to get the job done. I found these two individuals working together to get some rope tied around a tree and at a higher point.
We sat down for lunch and everyone got to know each other a little better.
On our way back we crossed the river by hopping from one rock to the next and witnessed a man being a gentleman.
We then crossed another bridge on our way back.
This trip helped to open me up in an unknown environment where I could connect with individuals and share more information with them than I normally would meeting someone on the street. I was not given a lot of information prior to this trip and was told to just bring some water and some snacks. However, when we stopped for lunch, it was a feast and everyone had packed food to feed the group. The hospitality that was shown to me is indescribable.
I never expected Russian people to be so open and caring before I came to Russia, but everywhere I go I am treated so well and people are very open. After this trip I was invited to come to one of their English classes and talk to some of the students. This experienced has really benefited me in many ways, because now I have some Russian friends that help me with understanding certain concepts of the Russian language that I may not be getting in class. The classroom setting here in Russia is a great place to learn language, but there are many things that just wont be taught in a classroom. Getting outside and interacting with native speakers is the best way to immerse oneself.