Friday, June 25, 2010

Жизнь Идёт: Life in Russia Thus Far

So, as it turns out I have a lot more time to kill today, and since I don't get to post much/don't want the first picture people to see when they look at my blog be Rasputin's rather large penis, I am posting yet again. I always talk about the big things, what we do on excursions and stuff, and I never really get to mention the little things. Even after only being here two weeks, I've really come to appreciate a lot of things here. Life in Russia is oddly carefree compared to life in the United States. It's kind of odd, seeing as both on a national and personal scale, Russians have more problems than Americans could ever dream of. Russians, or at least the Russians I have met, seem to have this odd detachment to events around them. Жизнь Идёт, as they say, life goes. At times this can be oddly refreshing, and at times you just want to grab people and shake them. Politics don't seem to interest the Russians I've talked to, they tell me that things are bad but there is nothing they can do to change it, so why get riled up? The same goes for most everything. Something's broken, the bus is late, for some reason every metro station you would want to go to is inexplicably closed. Why? You might want to ask someone. Why is the main metro station on the city's main street closed at rush hour? Because it is. That works for them, and I'm finding that it works for me too.
Away from the lofty philosophical things, two of my favorite things in Russia thus far are (oddly enough), the water heaters, and what I like to call 'the fluff'. The Russian water heater, the Russian name escapes me at the moment, is truly an odd device. An open pilot light sits over a grate. When you turn on the hot water, gas issues from the grate and is lit by the pilot light, heating the water as it flows through the pipe. They can rather scary to watch, open gas flames in tiny enclosed spaces would most certainly be considered a fire risk in the states. But here that's just the way it is. And boy are they effective, almost too effective, many a hour has suddenly become a boiling torrent as the water heater happily flames away.
'The fluff' has been my other favorite discovery. After much investigation (asking various Russians I meet in rather broken Russian) I have discovered that the fluff are the seeds from a certain march tree planted throughout the city. Originally intended to suck up the marsh water from the swamp Petersburg was built on, the trees now produce the fluff that is everywhere during the summer. On sunny days, it's like walking through a snowstorm. Fluff is in the air, on your clothes, it lines the street, it even invades buildings! I love the fluff because it is so much unlike anything back at home. It's almost as if someone is constantly kicking a giant dandelion all the time.
So in the end, I really do enjoy being here. It is hard at times too though. It's hard to be in a country with a culture so different from your own, where often times it feels like nobody can understand you. I often find myself sitting up in the constant daylight, missing all you guys at home. But I think that is a good thing too. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I think I'll definitely be grateful for my life at home when I return in August.
I think I'll leave it at that. Tomorrow I think I am going to my host family's дача or summer house, which is near the Gulf of Finland. I am very excited and will take lot's of pictures. I also posted a picture of the Narvskaya Gate, a huge monument to the War of 1812 that sits right outside my metro station. I hope you're all doing well and enjoying your weekend!

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