Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catching Up

I vowed I would update my blog everyday. As you all can see however, I have already failed miserably in that task. But at least for today (gotta keep those goals realistic) I will dutifully post. My time thus far has been a whirlwind, Russia truly is uniquely Russian, and you really need to experience it to fully understand it. As such, the past couple of days have been quite an adventure, learning the way things work and trying to settle in. Yesterday was a pretty quiet day, we only had an afternoon meeting to go to. I did spend a lovely morning with my host parents though, chatting over breakfast (and a rather potent and large bottle of homemade wine) about any number of things. Whoever thought I knew the words to be able to talk about political problems with illegal Tajik and Uzbek immigrants in Russia?
The meeting, while nice, was rather uneventful. Afterward we went on a long shopping trip, buying any number of boring things, soap, hand sanitizer, and a long fruitless journey for used books. The most adventuresome part of the day was the journey back home. In the States you always here how Russian metros are crowded. In can tell that you don't have the first idea. I had no clue that so many people could be compressed into so small an area. It was like a giant clown car. Except nobody was laughing and the guy next to me really should consider investing in a stick of deodorant. The walk home was interesting too. As most of you know, my sense of direction is largely wanting, and yesterday (and today) were no exception. I spent a good 45 minutes traipsing in between parking lots, past abandoned apartment blocks, and around, as I am convinced are rampant everywhere in Russia, inexplicably mangled cars. Needless to say, my goal is to figure out how to get home, before I have to do so in the middle of the night. On the plus side though, I did get to take (with my rather weak photography skills) some interesting pictures.
Today was our testing day, we took a two hour long test that included a rather unintelligible written section, and an interview session with one of the Russian faculty members. I think my interviewer was rather flabbergasted when I chatted her ear of for half an hour telling her about my love for Russian history. Today was also a shopping day. I bought a cell phone and school supplies. Cell phones are wicked cheap in Russia, I payed about $20 for my phone and simcard, plus 100 rubles of talking time. In Russia, all phones are pay as you go. You can slot a couple hundred rubles into any number of handy machines located in most stores, and be free to talk away until your minutes or rubles (I'm confused as to which)or up, after which you just fill the phone up again. School supplies are rather odd in Russia. Notebooks are really small and thin, filled with graph paper, and cost about 60 cents a piece. I picked up four, two of which come from the Russian "glamor girl" line. How they are in the slight bit glamorous I don't know, since one is a picture of a rather oddly clad blonde woman holding a sniper rifle, and the other is a woman dressed up as Spetsnaz trooper. Glamorous indeed...

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