THE STATE OF AFFAIRS

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Lemons in St. Petersburg's botanical garden, Russia

Sometimes life gives me lemons, and I don't make lemonade. That was last week. This week, I left the lemons behind and went out looking for strawberries. While I was struggling with my lemons (a slight stomach bug, followed by a mild cold, which turned into a bad virus infection and struck me down for a week), the (hypothetical) strawberries grew in all corners. Now I have harvested them and made a strawberry cream.

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ICE, ICE, BABY!

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Wolga, Samara, Russia

The slow awakening of nature fascinates me. I've never experienced spring like this. For three, maybe even four weeks, it didn't freeze during the day. There is still snow in the ditches and along the Volga beaches. There, the sand is visible now, and the last bits of thick ice linger on shore. On some afternoons I can imagine how beautiful summer will be. The ice pieces are still large in some parts of the beach. They are too heavy for the water to move them. The small waves of the river, not yet open for ships, splash softly against the ice and create little cavelike cliffs. They form a surprisingly solid ice roof that reaches out daringly over the river.

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THE WORLD IS A VILLAGE

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"Old Samara", Samara, Russia

If I am proficient in anything, then in "being abroad." Here in Samara, it's the fourth time that I live in a country where I don't speak the language. By now, I know the problems that I will have to face and how I can deal with them. I know the steps that I'll go through before I feel comfortable for the first time. Of course, the experience is different in every place, but often my coping mechanisms are the same. This emerging template gives me security in communicating my needs. I can suddenly tell where I am at and what I will be able to do in the end, most likely. That fascinates me.

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DANGEROUS RUSSIA

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Aprilstorm, Samara, Russia

Originally, I wanted to write about pancakes. But when I walked across the street this morning, I changed my mind.

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BENEATH THE SNOWCOVER

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Snow without end, Samara, Russia

People say there are only two seasons here in Samara: the summer and the winter. Spring and autumn are short, almost unnoticeable. Of course, this is only true if you think that winter lasts as long as snow is falling and summer as long as it doesn't rain. Of course in actuality, you can feel, see and smell both spring and autumn (I presume).

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