The everyday challenges were, at times, nerve wrecking. The challenges, however, were also what made each day so exciting. I may have struggled more than once just to tell my host family that no, I did not want three more servings of pilaf, but the realization that I really had nothing to lose by practicing my skills with a culture that is so open and hospitable to newcomers was oddly freeing.
My host family was an always helpful, patient and sympathetic resource, a comfort to talk with even in the midst of a particularly frustrating day.
Being in Russia also forced me to use the language. If I wanted to eat, I had no choice but to speak Russian to the waitress because few knew English. Living with a host family in Volgograd helped me to observe the difference the way Russians live. Most Russians live in apartments, while most American's live in houses.