Today was tough, I'm am trying not to fall into the deep rut of homesickness. With the holidays coming up and no snow on the ground (yet! It should snow Thursday, and we got a hint today!!), I am definitely feeling my heartstrings pulled toward missing family, friends, Thanksgiving dinner, and Christmas decorations, songs, etc.
On the one hand, of course I am excited to be in another country, and of course there are other Americans around to celebrate Thanksgiving with, but on the other hand, holiday traditions vary around the country in America, so things won't be exactly what any of us are expecting.
Additionally, I keep running up against the wall of phrases and cultural references that other Americans don't understand or haven't heard before. I am realizing more and more the regional identities of Americans and why we cling so close to our states. When you ask an American where they are from, they do not typically say "America" like Russian's say Russia, Canadians say Canada, and Scots say Scotland. More often Americans will tell you the state (I do this too). "I'm from Idaho, in the United States. It's in the western part" is my response.
Taking all of this culture shock into consideration, after work today, I went to Starbucks for the first time since I arrived in Moscow. I did not expect it to be the same. I expected it to be a spin off of the American themed Starbucks, like McDonald's isn't typically what American's think of as McDonald's (even if they do serve exactly the same food). But when I walked up to this Starbucks (that is a two minute walk from work!) and looked in the window, it seemed so familiar (despite the Cyrillic which phonetically spelled Starbucks: СТАРБАКС), and when I walked it I felt like I was in the United States. The decorations were Christmas themed red and green. The drinks were all exactly the same ... caramel macchiato, mocha, and the Christmas themed drinks, peppermint mocha and gingerbread latte. The merchandise was the same, the wall colors and furniture types were the same! I was so relieved and happy, I am almost ashamed! I think that anytime I start feeling the pangs of homesickness, I will go to Starbucks and be greeted with a smile, a joyful "добрый день! (Dobry Den!)" - "Good Day!" and the friendliness that Starbucks has a trademark.