The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Thirty-Four — St. Petersburg, Russia, Preparing to Head Back to the U.S. of A.

The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Thirty-Four — St. Petersburg, Russia, Preparing to Head Back to the U.S. of A.

By Marin Ekstrom
Week 7: St. Petersburg, Russia, Preparing to Head Back to the U.S. of A.

It feels surreal that I am nearing the end of my two-month stay in St. Petersburg. While I have been enchanted by the city, and have greatly enjoyed the experience overall, I have noticed myself “checking out” over the past week. At this point, I am ready to come home, as I feel the need to resume “reality” (family, work, college), and I am extremely anxious to rediscover the conveniences and commodities that…well, let’s just say Russia made me realize how much I used to take them for granted.
At the same time, it feels bittersweet to draw an end to my amazing summer in this fascinating nation, and I realize how much I will miss it when I return to America. Therefore, in order to best balance these conflicting emotions, I decided to create a table highlighting some of the pros/cons of St. Petersburg and “da Nordland”:


I hope that by making this table (no matter how silly some of the points are), I will be most able to fairly access my impressions of Minnesota and St. Petersburg. I want to veer away from over-romanticizing either place, at the risk of developing home-sickness (or vacation-sickness?), but nor do I want I paint them in overly-negative lights, as I have had mostly positive experiences with both places. Instead, I believe that by reminiscing the “good, bad, and the ugly” of Minnesota and St. Petersburg, I will come up with the most balanced assessments of each places and what they have to offer.

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Summer Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

This summer we will re-tool and re-design the collaborative program, drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This summer The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here throughout the summer, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, June, 2013

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 6, Spring, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.


Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

4 responses to “The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Thirty-Four — St. Petersburg, Russia, Preparing to Head Back to the U.S. of A.

  1. Megan Hennen

    As someone who studied abroad and has been back in the US for over a year now, I still find myself feeling homesick for Derry! And I actually came across a quote near the end of my time in NI that seemed to perfectly sum up how I was feeling about returning to Minnesota: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” (Miriam Adeney)

  2. Jonia G

    I imagine that escaping from ‘reality’ for a little while was an adventure that you’ll treasure – though I can understand wanting to return to the everyday life (even with all it’s little stresses). I’m curious to how different and similar life is and how much of an adjustment it was for you. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Benjamin Carlson

    That feeling of mentally distancing yourself from a loved place knowing it might be a lifetime before you make it back is such a defense mechanisms that, I too, used upon the end of my travels. To fight the inevitable conclusion of the trip of futile, so I guess the healthiest was to deal with it is to start distancing ourselves, and never forget the memories that we made. Thank you for sharing your store!

  4. Mackenzie Sherrill

    I actually rarely hear much about the feelings one may experience while traveling abroad for a longer period of time. It was interesting to see that although you enjoyed you time away, you became homesick after your 2 month stay. I wonder if most people would agree with how you felt, considering that when most students travel abroad to study, it is usually at least 2 months or longer in time.

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