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being present by Masha G. '24

im in st petersburg!!!

This was originally going to be a post about how now that I’m in college I’m finally taking steps to beat procrastination and do things early and within a reasonable time frame. The plan was simple – I’d finish all my psets and work due on a given Friday, and then immediately start the work due the following week in the days that follow. However. In planning this, I failed to account for the fact that I am now in the most beautiful city in the world. I’m serious. It’s incredible. Look at this:

I got to St Petersburg a bit over a week ago, and holy shit, words cannot convey how happy and in awe I am. Logically, I’ve known that this city is gorgeous. I’ve been here before. None of the places I’ve walked so far are entirely new to me. And yet it’s a completely different feeling knowing that I’m actually living here, in the middle of it all, that I’m sleeping and cooking and stressing over psets while surrounded by all of this. One of the greatest joys, I think, is to have the mundane turn beautiful. So even on days when I’m stuck at home, going to office hours after office hours, I can look out my window and be reminded of the fact that, wow, I’m here.

windowsill with a laptop and a view of buildings

my makeshift desk (there’s an actual desk, but the view is too good)

I constantly have the urge to go out, to walk around, to just sit and stare at a river somewhere or peoplewatch in a park. I want to get a coffee and read a book in front of the Winter Palace. I don’t really want to do my psets. And that’s okay, because I have a natural tendency to overwork myself and push myself to the limit, and is it really so bad to just slow down for a while, to focus more on taking in the world around me? I want to draw, maybe, to capture all this beauty. I want to write something, for myself, while staring out my window. I’ve already noticed a renewed interest in dressing nicely, in doing my makeup before I go out, all these things that used to bring me so much joy. I feel… alive, I think. In a semester when everything is virtual, I’m grateful to be able to access so much reality.

For two weeks in a row now, I’ve sat on a Zoom call at 7 pm (eastern, 2 am local!) with friends from my math class, trying to figure out the last bits of the pset due at 8. I might be better about it all next week, I might not, who knows. Sure, it’d be nice not to stress at the last minute, but it’s so nice to be able to walk around the city on those rare sunny days. I will have many more semesters to grind schoolwork, but the rest of them won’t take place here. I don’t have to do the most, yet. For now, I can be content with just doing enough. In that vein, there’s a lot more I could write, but the sun is out today, and I have four hours before sunset, and I can’t sit at home any longer.