Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Contrøl

Being an international student is a radical experience. I was blessed to visit my family this interterm for the first time after I started school. Now I am back at Biola, and I am yet to pay the tuition to get enrolled for the spring semester of my junior year. My parents are unable to support me financially due to my dad's low income - they are still providing for my two younger brothers as well. I've been raising support to cover most of the tuition expenses since day one, and I am taking care of paying rent myself. 

 My God is the God who provides, and I am not afraid or ashamed to proclaim this. The time at Biola University has been significantly impacting my character. I believe that there is a greater purpose behind these changes and my time here. I believe in God who holds all things together. He is in absolute control, and he will provide and take care of me.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Internationally Confused

The 'pre-production' process for Biola took me a year. For a whole year I was looking at colleges, taking tests, writing application essays, raising money, and doing visa paperwork. During the whole year I don't think I truly believed that I could do that, I could not grasp in whole what was happening. Until one day I got my student visa and just left.

Living in a foreign country is a very exciting and a very challenging experience. Living in a foreign country as a non-immigrant, without this country's citizenship (aka an alien), is more on the challenging side. But I've been talking about this before. Today, I would like to spill some thoughts on a reverse culture shock.

After 2.5 years in the United States, in particular, as a film student at a Christian University, my worldview, my interests, my ways of thinking changed a lot. Not to mention that my friend circle changed completely. After I left for college, almost noone stayed in touch with me from back home. I was skyping my family once a month due to time difference and a busy schedule. That means, I got to speak in my native language only once a month. I met a lot of amazing people, but oftentimes I still felt lonely and misunderstood. I was trying to adjust to the new culture, but some things were a little too overwhelming. Like, an excessive amount of smiling and greeting every single person with the words 'how are you', or chit-chat with a cashier at a grocery store - at some point it started to look fake and felt tiresome. I did not grow up in this culture, and some cultural stereotypes, even if thrown at me as a joke, began to sound offending.

I was not able to go home for more than 2 years since I came to Biola. Watching everyone visiting their homes for holidays and school breaks made me miss my home a lot. People were very gracious to open up their homes for me, but that did not feel the same. At some point, I started feeling something more than just missing home - I got confused at the whole concept of 'home'. I missed my family like crazy, I needed to physically see them and make sure they are ok. At the same time, people around me - my new friends and people I was spending the most of my time with (at work or my roommates) - became my family. The place in the culture that I did not fully adjust became my home, though I could not call it home just yet.

The most interesting thing I have experienced since I moved to the States - is coming 'home'. Until this day, I only heard about the concept of a reverse culture shock, and I am still not quite sure if you can actually experience one after being abroad for just couple weeks or no, but It is an interesting thing.
I only started to get used to the diversity and the way of life in the USA, and 25 years in Moscow vs 2.5 years in La Mirada is a big difference. But coming home, I did not know how to act and react, people and places looked familiar and foreign at the same time. People's attitude is mostly rude, they will not hesitate to yell at you. Not because they are horrible angry people, but because it is the way culture of a big busy city came to be over the years, after all that people here had to go through as a nation. All of my cravings for the foods from home suddenly disappeared, and I do not consume it with much enthusiasm. Moreover, all I can think about these days is a shrimp burrito from Alberto's and IPAs.
I happened to visit home in the wintertime after 3 years of endless summer. Moscow decided to greet me in a proper way, and a windchill of -20ºF was an average thing. I did not want to leave my apartment at all, but I was glad to have my roommate from Biola here with me for 2 weeks - that made me get out. Even being with my own family feels unsettling. Nothing changed here, and that is probably the problem. Despite the fact that it is harder and harder for my dad to provide and pay the bills when the prices grow and income stays the same, all else remains the same, and it makes me feel a bit of a foreigner in my own home.

The experience of living in a foreign country and being away from home for a long period of time taught me a number of things. 1. Family, aka people who raised you and loved you unconditionally, is very important. The urge to physically be present with them at least every once in a while is strong, and the fear of anything happening to them while you're away is even stronger. 2. The concept of 'home' is now a blurred line. I do not quite feel at 'home' anywhere anymore, and at the same time 'home' is wherever I can keep one of my favorite mugs at, which leads to the next point. 3. People adapt. People adapt. Some faster than others, some smoother than others. All praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ, my God, that by knowing him I can be sure that he is with me no matter where I am. I do not fit into any of the cultures anymore, and both countries can be my home. Here's to people who lived in foreign countries for a significant amount of time even once. Home is inside us.



Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Music Video

Here is the music video I made as a final for one of my classes.

I am very thankful for my crew who worked with me on this and made an idea a reality.


Chris Rasmussen - Sunriser from Ekaterina Makarova on Vimeo.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Two and a Half

Another semester went by way too fast. I was so busy I never posted any updates. I ended up taking 7 classes, 18 units total. It was quite overwhelming at times, especially when the semester was coming to its end. The amount of incomplete assignments was growing every day. I also got very sick right before the Finals week and did not get a chance to study much. Now it is all over, and I am enjoying my time of rest, while waiting for the final grades to be posted.

The past semester I was incredibly blessed with finances. Not that all of a sudden I could stop worrying about money and could buy things, no. My tuition was payed off by the due dates, even sooner, and I was blessed with rent payment for 3 months ahead. I got coupe more scholarships, and I was able to get 15-20 hours of work about every week. This gave me a chance to save up some money and buy a ticket home. Also, I did not have to stress out about paying off my tuition/rent and I could concentrate on schoolwork more, and I was able to register for classes for the Spring on time. Thank you all who supported me, this indeed was a great gift.

And yes, I am going home! First time in 2.5 years - I never went since I moved here in August 2013. I am so excited to see my family and my hometown, in just 2.5 days - so soon! Not so excited about the cold weather or the process of getting a new student visa to come back to finish school, but God has taken me this far, and I will continue putting my trust in him.

Besides the financial blessing and going home, one more exciting thing I got out of this semester - I got to direct a music video for one talented man who also goes to Biola. It was a project for one of my classes. I never personally directed anything, and despite the short notice, I am so glad for the crew of amazing people who agreed to work with me. The video is to be released pretty soon!

Here are couple shots of the process:





Thursday, October 1, 2015

An update to follow soon! I've been busy.

Here's a somewhat typical week of mine now that I got my schedule in place, moreover. White space is filled up with homework, meetings, sometimes naps. Work is floating around the week, with only Chapel shifts being stable.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Keep Going

Every time I get astonished by the ways everything works out for my semester at school. God works in his mysterious ways and provides everything I need, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. But every single time it feels so big, so bountiful - to finally be enrolled in school, to not pay late fees, to not worry about rent, food, etc.

Where big sufferings are, there are big blessings. If you trust the Lord and have faith, you will be blessed. Not all people experience it often, or soon enough. Me personally - just by this experience I am blessed. All the stress I go through pays off by the fact that God shows that he cares, that he has not left me nor stopped helping me. 

When people support me, it gives me strength and motivation to go on. To finish what I started. And keep going, further, higher, deeper. 

I am enrolled for the Fall 2015 semester without late fees! I signed up for a 50%x50% plan, so the rest of my payment is due pretty soon - September 15th. I have $4,110 remaining on my balance. 
Thank you all who already have donated. I hope you will be able to support me in the future. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wages and Ages.

I asked my mom today about my dad's salary... I am still processing the facts that I can't quite believe yet. 

After calculating the given monthly rate in Russian currency into U.S. $ at today's exchange rate of 64 Russian rubles per $1 (which is twice as much as merely 2 years ago), my dad makes approximately $3/hour. 
This means that I, being on a student visa in the USA with a 20 hours per week work restriction and still barely making enough to pay the bills, make more money in a month than my smart, with an ingineering degree from a respectable Moscow Aviation Institute [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_Aviation_Institute], father, with my rate being $10.25/hour before taxes. 

Some shocking facts right there. No wonder he worked through his vacation this year. 

I can't even consider asking my family to help me financially, though I know that they still do - by depositing some money into my home bank account. With today's currency exchange rate, all of that money is basically nothing. 
Despite this, God keeps proving to me that he is faithful. ALL. THE. TIME. I don't know why did I deserve such blessings. In fact, I definitely did not. But he knows better and his grace doesn't need to be explained, it needs to be received. 

My financial aid application for this school year has been revised, and I was awarded another scholarship today. 
This leaves me with $7,026 total left to cover for the Fall 2015 semester, with a downpayment due on Monday, 

...and here I was interrupted with some news about my downpayment actually being covered. Literally. This very moment. 
Revising that, my current statement is $6,000 for the rest of the semester. Please pass it along and help me cover the tuition costs. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight."
- Proberbs 3:5-6

How to donate:
http://mak-speakinglouder.blogspot.com/2014/10/support.html