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Hayley StoboI can’t believe my Bolshoi journey has come to an end! It feels like only yesterday I received that vital call from the Genesis Foundation confirming that they would help fund my years within the academy. As I embarked on my journey three years ago, travelling to the unknown… there was apprehension, excitement, panic. A mix of emotions which I had never experienced before. As I stepped off the plane in Russia I entered into a new world full of new life challenges and exposure to a whole new culture.

My final academic exam took place on the 7th of June and I am over the moon to announce that I passed with flying colours! This very important Russian state exam was the final hurdle of my journey; it consisted of twenty four possible questions from three different subjects which were music literature, history of ballet and history of world culture. You can imagine my nerves as I entered the exam room; this exam determined whether I would finally receive my diploma despite having passed all previous dance and academic exams!

We waited for four long hours for the result of this exam, pacing down corridors unable to relax and finally the tannoy announcement bellowed through the dorms telling all 3rd course students to make their way to the library for their results. We stood in a large semi-circle with all adjudicators facing us with the results in their hand. One by one they called each name with their result straight after and as I heard “Stobo Hayley” my heart sunk into my stomach before the arrival of a “4” mark was awarded out of a possible 5 and I cried with happiness at the back of the room. I could not believe my 3 years of hard work was finally at an end and I have achieved all I set out to do!

On the 20th of June my mum, dad, auntie and little cousin all arrived in Moscow late at night, eagerly awaiting my graduation ceremony the following day. I walked along to their hotel at 9 am on the 21st to enjoy breakfast and a well needed catch up with them all before heading back to the dorms to get my beautiful Hayley Stobodress and heels on for the ceremony that began at 3pm. All third course diploma students were seated to the right of the stage on a diagonal line. A presentation table was placed at the other side of the stage for all teachers , balloons dressed the stage and a velvet curtain with a white centre chiffon drape hung from the ceiling with a gold individual numbers which said “214” (which meant 214th year) graduating class!

The ceremony itself was quite short with each student having their individual moment to shine as they walked up one at a time to be presented with their diplomas. As we all received our diplomas we walked back to our seats with the largest smiles on our faces and the feeling of pride and sense of achievement. Many speeches were made by teachers and students and to end the ceremony a handful of students were chosen to give a bouquet of flowers to the teachers on stage. I was very emotional when I was given the flowers to present Natalia Igorovna Revich – my amazing teacher over the past three years. The tears filled her eyes as I handed her the flowers and as she pulled me into cuddle her and all I could manage to mumble through the lump in my throat was “thank you ….. thank you”.

After the ceremony we all posed for photos on stage with our amazing teachers and had our moment of madness as the realisation set in that we have our diploma finally in our hands!!

Hayley StoboMy final two days in Russia were spent with my family and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! They were filled with yummy food and drink and of course lots of laughs, showing them sights of Moscow such as the Kremlin and Red Square. I was able to relax for the first time in 3 years and not have to think about constant exams and learning of the Russian language. My family were so impressed by my grasp of the language and how confident and fluent I had become, they felt so at ease not having to try and understand or translate when asking for food etc.

I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in New York for 9 months with a neo classical ballet company, but unfortunately they fell into financial difficulties and could no longer form. I am now in the process of trying to find work within the dance industry, and I am excited for what lies ahead.

The realisation of what I have achieved in my time in Russia is unbelievable. For this my main gratitude and thanks must go to all at the Genesis Foundation for making it all possible! My family for always believing in me and being my rock at the times I felt weak and had lost believe in myself. Maureen and Brian for everything they have done for me and for always being such great friends! Finally to my wee roomie Natalie for always lending that shoulder to cry on and for being a friend I know I will always have.

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Hello bloggers,

We are in the photomonth of December which means Moscow is very chilly and the thought of going outside without my full winter attire sends fear through my body!  The temperature today is  -6 degrees, but I have to say I am very thankful to the inventor of the hat, scarf and gloves!  Otherwise without these simple items I think my fingers and ears would have fallen off on my walk back from the metro this morning!  I am so excited at seeing the snow this year because I feel it will be a little more special to me as this is my final year. As I speak the first flutters of snow are upon Moscow and what a beautiful sight it is too. I have included some photos for you all to see, and sadly I now realise this will only be a memory next year so I will have to treasure every moment that I have left in this wonderful place. There will be no more Christmas countdowns in the city of Moscow which is a very scary thought indeed!photo4

Classes have been very intense at the moment as graduation exam preparation has already begun and Natalia Igorovna Revich isn’t tolerating any form of slacking at the moment! The stress is already building and it is only December so it doesn’t bear to think of the stress that will be circling our studio in May 2013! Russian ballet exams are all about timing so our barre has been getting timed each day ensuring that it gets finished quicker and quicker and it has gone from 20 minutes to 7 minutes!  Yes… I agree with everyone who is thinking that this time scale is crazy but welcome to Russia and the intense daily Russian training. I am pleased to tell you all that my injuries which have plagued me in recent months have given me a reprieve and long may this good luck continue. My foot is still a little weak but is getting stronger and I am only now beginning to dance fully and jump again, seems slow, but progress nonetheless and as long as I am feeling an improvement day by day I can cope with the little but often aspect. Fingers crossed that it is all onwards and upwards from now on.

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I was told when I returned after the  summer holidays that the school wanted me to lose weight for my exams and this came as a shock to me as I feel I am very slim and I am very against dieting and cutting back on food that a hard working body needs… however I decided to take on board their advice and turn what I felt was a little negative into a positive, and instead of “losing weight” I decided to eat normally, but increase the amount of toning exercises into my daily routines and vowed to work even harder in class. I am pleased to tell you all that my “healthy” method is apparently working as Revich took me to the side after class this week and said I am looking great and she is very proud of how toned I am at the moment. The cherry on the cake was when she also commented that I have a body that the pupils in this school should look up to! It is so hard to put into words how much this massive compliment means to me, especially a statement such as this coming from a country that predominately feels that bones showing in a dancer is “beautiful “.  This proves that hard work and a sensible head and also eating sensibly is sometimes all that is needed. I am very proud of myself at the moment and I will ensure I keep up the hard work until that diploma is in my hand.

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I owe everyone an apology for the delay of this blog, but the main reason is because I have been undertaking my state Russian language exams which had my mind going into overdrive each night and I seriously think the final few days before these five giant exams had me showing every emotion known to mankind.  The exams consisted of speaking, reading, listening, writing and a multiple choice grammar exam. The latter has to be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life (in an exam sense) because Russian language has so many grammar tenses and when they are all listed out in front of you, believe me your brain starts doing somersaults and you begin to doubt everything you had been studying for the past two and a half years! I studied every night without fail for these exams and I can only hope and pray that when the exam results come back that I have done enough to receive my diploma in Russian language because without it I am unable to continue on the journey for my diploma in dance! This thought doesn’t even bear thinking about. However I have my positive head on and my mummy’s constant phone calls throughout the intense build up to these exams managed to keep me sane and I can’t thank her enough! I owe her more than a cuddle and kisses when I get home at Christmas… I think we both deserve a wee glass of wine… eh mummy? I look forward to telling you all how I get on, please keep your fingers crossed for me.

On a brighter note I hphoto6ave successfully finished all of my other additional academic subjects this year which is very exciting! Who would have thought an 18 year old lass from Scotland could have managed such subjects as philosophy, economics and psychology, all studied and written in Russian! If I am completely honest I would have laughed if you had asked me to do all these two years ago in the English language, never mind studying, talking and writing them all in Russian. But nonetheless I have not only managed to complete them, I am delighted to say I achieved whopping “5”‘s all round… which is the top mark! We have a book which needs to be signed by our teachers as we complete each subject and I have to say, I gave myself a wee pat on the back this week when my academic book was finally signed by all teachers. I now only have to sit two more academic exams, one of which is History of Ballet and also one in Russian Literature which I will complete in May 2013. I also have to think of my dance exams, which will also be completed in May…  but I have told myself, no stressing, as I will have five months of preparation for them when I return in January. So you can imagine I am feeling great at the moment and my family are very proud of me and all I have achieved in the third course and I must say, so am I!  Long may it continue! Now for my long overdue rest at home.

I will once again be stepping onto Scottish soil and I am very, very excited indeed to see my family and friends! I don’t know what I would do without them and the thought of them being there for me 24/7 always keeps me calm and focused. I can’t thank them enough for all the support and love that they continually shower me with! In particular I owe my mummy and Michael lots of cuddles when I get home because I can’t even begin to count the number of times they have had me crying on the other end of the phone or stressing via email. I am so thankful for every word of motivation and comfort that I have had from them. Each  member of my family holds a special place in my heart as I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their support and I certainly wouldn’t have got through almost three years in Moscow without their guidance and love.

I will keep you all updated on my exam results and keep your fingers crossed that I pass them all!

I would like to say thank you once again to Mr Studzinski and The Genesis Foundation for the continual support that they have shown over the last two and a half years, as I am sure everyone knows that without their gracious support none of this would be possible!

Merry Christmas to everyone at The Genesis Foundation and also to all my bloggers!

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