2021 Exchange Student
Be Brave: My Experience at Halloween in Yagodnoe
At the end of October, I spent Halloween in Yagodnoe. It was a wonderful experience for me. It all started when I was invited to ITMO’s English speaking club by a friend I met in my intercultural communication class. When I attended the club for the first time, I found out that there was going to be a Halloween event at a place called Yagodnoe in about a month
I did some research on Yagodnoe and found out that it is a very beautiful place with a lot of nature. So, I thought "I definitely want to go!" I immediately made a note of it in my calendar. And finally, the application form for Yagodnoe was open! However, I was a little sick at the time, so I procrastinated and ended up being fourth on the waiting list. I was disappointed to find out that I would not be able to go to Yagodnoe after all, and it was my dream.
But as fate would have it, four days before Yagodnoe, there were four cancellations and I became the last member on the list! What a surprise, I will be able to go to Yagodnoe! How lucky I am! I thought I am a very lucky person. At the same time, I was getting nervous. I’ve always been a shy person, and the last time I attended a Halloween party was when I was in elementary school. So, I didn't know what kind of costume I should wear. One day, a friend gave me some advice and said, "International students from Japan are rare, and since it's Japan, how about a kimono?" She told me. "Oh, that's it!" I felt sure. I will wear a kimono as a costume! "Do you know of a place that sells kimonos?" I asked the Hikari Japanese student club group I belonged to. But I couldn't find any kimonos at all, and even when I did, they were women's kimonos or cheap ones, nothing that looked like a Japanese kimono. After a lot of searching, one of the members of the Hikari club introduced me to a store. And I finally managed to get the Japanese kimono I was looking for!
And I was ready to go. The physical preparations were done, but the mental preparations were not yet done. I had only been to the English speaking club once and had no friends at all. So I was worried that I wouldn't know anyone when I go to stay at Halloween in Yagodnoe. Besides, when I looked at the list of members, all of them were Russians and I was the only international student even though it was the English speaking club.
I wondered if they would speak English. Would I be able to blend in with the Russian members? I was very worried. At times, I even felt like I didn’t want to go. But I decided that the opportunity to participate in a Halloween party at Yagodnoe in Russia in November 2021 will only happen once in my life, so I definitely should not regret it. I have no regrets as my axis, so it encouraged me to go to Yagodnoe.
At Yagodnoe, it was a joint Halloween party between the ITMO speaking club and the Yagodka club. First, there was a costume competition where each of us had to pretend to be a virtual character and explain it in English. I introduced myself as a samurai who fought in the 18th century, but somehow came back to life and ended up in Yagodnoe, Russia. I was not well received at all, but somehow I came in third place in the voting. It was out of the blue for me. I couldn’t believe it happened.
After the competition was over, we played the Escape game, made Halloween pumpkins, and did paper crafts with the Yagodnoe club. In the meantime, we got used to it naturally and made friends.
In the evening, we took part in a Halloween quiz organized by the ITMO speaking club. However, the questions were so difficult that I couldn't do them at all. But everyone seemed to be having fun, and I was influenced by that, so I had a lot of fun.
Afterwards, we all had a barbecue outside. Everyone was cooking a lot of sausages. But I didn’t care about that at all, the starry sky was so beautiful that I forgot about the sausages. There were more stars than I had ever seen in my life, and the sky was so beautiful that I could see them through the trees in the forest. I kept turning my head upward to look at the stars. Then, tears naturally flowed. Without a doubt, this was the most moving moment for me since I came to Russia.
Near Yagodnoe, there was a lake and a small dock. It was dark and there was not even light, so the starry sky looked really beautiful. I lay there and looked at the stars for about half an hour. Then, I cried again. I thought about how romantic it was. My heart melted so much. During that time, I saw a shooting star three times. Seeing shooting stars is very special to me, and this is the first time in my life that I have seen three shooting stars in 30 minutes. I was staring at the sky while listening to ET's theme. When I returned from the lake, the barbecue area was deserted, no lights, no flames. But then I saw a figure. She was from my intercultural communication class, and she was also watching the stars. We talked while looking at the stars. She was surprised when I told her that I am a professional on constellations. Then, we joined the Scary quest that started at 11pm that night. The goal of the quest was to visit various places and get a piece of paper with a code drawn on it for each part of the quest you completed, and then read it out loud together. The quests were all in Russian, and the conversations were all in Russian, which I could not understand at all. I couldn't understand a word of it, but I blended in with the atmosphere of everyone having fun, and I had a lot of fun too. Some of the quests made me shocked. I won't go into details, but it was something that you wouldn't expect in Japan. The scary quest lasted until 2:00 a.m. At the end of the night, I went to my friend's log house to drink tea and warm up before going back to my room.
I am so glad that I could participate in this event in Yagodnoe. I will never forget the wonderful starry skies, Halloween costumes, Scary quest, and all the memories that were preserved in my heart.
At first, I was worried about everything, but after I got the courage to do it, I am definitely glad I did! That's why life is interesting. I will continue to challenge myself to experience unknown things. Thank you.