Ya Ni Gavaru Paruski

29/08/16

So I had a blog post I wrote during my layover in England, but there is way too much to talk about for the “okla” 48 hours I’ve spent in Russia. Someone just told me “okla” is the word for “around.” I’ve been in Russia for around 48 hours, and I don’t even know where to begin…this may be a bit all over the place.

A picture from our bus leaving St. Petersburg Airport.

A picture from our bus leaving St. Petersburg Airport.

So you see how I wrote the date above, that’s how the date is supposed to be written in Russia. Rubles are pretty easy to keep track of, and the cost of living is really inexpensive in Russia. It looks like an average lunch costs the equivalent of ~$3 per day, which is just under 200P (rubles). The Russian equivalent of Walmart is called OK, and they have most things you would need or want in America. You can’t buy peanut butter there…you have to go to the special import store in the middle of central St. Petersburg & pay a premium. I haven’t made it to this store yet, but I will soon. Speaking of which, the metro is clean and efficient. It is extremely inexpensive (~20P or ~a 1/3 of a US cent). You can’t take pictures while you’re in there and you can’t congregate in large groups, or the police will come. Helpful hint, drivers in Russia speed up to hit pedestrians, so make sure you see the green man on the sign before you start walking.

Nuclear Power Plant...Maybe

A picture of what I thought was a Nuclear Power Plant aside the highway on the way to Akademicheskaya, St. Petersburg, Russia.

They do have a supplements store where you can buy whey protein, which I’m going to hit up tomorrow. I also joined to local “fitnus centor,” with some difficulty (more about this in a bit). The phrase “Ya Ni Gavaru Ruski” means “I don’t speak Russian.” “Eta Pravada,” means “this is the truth.” Well, this is the truth. I came to Russia speaking no Russian, not being able to read, and not being able to write. Hopefully I don’t sound too naive or over-confident, but I don’t feel nervous about this at all even though this is my new home for the next year. Let me explain to you what I’ve gathered so far.

Russian Highway

A typical Russian highway, the signs are in Kilometers.

Today I had about two Russian hours of language class (a Russian hour is 45 minutes). In that time, my Professor, Ingra, explained a few things. So the classic print Russian letters you see on signs, you don’t write with. You write in a different cursive form, which is how you first learn the language pronunciations. Then once this happens, you can start to read the print letters with these same pronunciations. By that time, you will start to be able to speak the language. Hopefully that made sense… :/

View from my Dorm.

The view from my dorm room in the International Dorms.

 

Dorm room is bare bones, the true Russian spirit of things!

Dorm room is bare bones, the true Russian spirit of things!

A view of the front of the international dorms in Akademicheskaya, St. Petersburg, Russia.

A view of the front of the international dorms in Akademicheskaya, St. Petersburg, Russia.

A picture of a building in the suburbs of Akademicheskaya, where our dorms are located, about 20mins from the city center.

A picture of a building in the suburbs of Akademicheskaya, where our dorms are located, about 20mins from the city center.

People in Akademicheskaya, a suburb of St. Petersburg, Russia.

People in Akademicheskaya, a suburb of St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Tak” (so) back to Fitnus Centor. I walked in to get a 3 month membership, 4450P (about 70 dollars). I asked the lady if she spoke English “Engliski,” because “Ya Ni Gavaru Ruski.” After ~20mins & my friend Tay speaking to her in Russian, I finally got everything sorted out. This is quite eye opening to say the least, now I know how people who don’t speak English in America feel! On a side note because I just remebered this, on our way to the dorms after first arriving in Russia, we saw some dude in a brand new Escalade driving on the grass along side the railroad tracks xD.

A vendor selling Matrushka dolls, scarfs, and other stuff to tourists outside The Peter & Paul Fortress in the City Center of St. Petersburg, Russia.

A vendor selling Matrushka dolls, scarfs, and other stuff to tourists outside The Peter & Paul Fortress in the City Center of St. Petersburg, Russia.

You have to keep a straight face most of the time here because Russian people don’t smile. It’s not because they’re all necessarily angry all the time, but they just don’t feel the need to show emotion. The train of thought is that when they see someone smiling as they walk around the street, they have something wrong with them mentally. Also, Americans abroad, putting things into perspective I guess we are all loud af, and a bit inconsiderate at times.

A Store in the St. Petersburg city center selling clothes for humans only...i guess.

A Store in the St. Petersburg city center selling clothes for humans only…i guess.

What else…tak…so all the students in the same study abroad program are really nice and a bit nerdy similar to myself (I mean what did you expect of people who decided to go to Russia to study abroad, #florence2k16). I can repeat about half a dozen key Russian phrases so far, but this has just been out of the pure need to survive, like “Ge De Toliet” (you guess that one).

Pronounced, "Res-to-ran."

Pronounced, “Res-to-ran.” (Shout out to Tay and David).

Tak, I’ve decided to name my blog chain of posts Re-yal Nia-rosia, “The Real Russia.” Here I am not going to post pictures of stuff you could google like the Hermitage or the Church of Our Savior on Spilt Blood. I am going to post stuff that’d you’d need to investigate yourself, Re-yal Nia-rosia!!

Tea and cake we ate on one of our group meals in the international dorms.

Tea and cake we ate on one of our group meals in the international dorms.

A bowl of borscht we had at lunch, soo good!

A bowl of borscht we had at lunch, soo good!

In Russia the light switches for the bathroom are on the outside for whatever reason...

In Russia the light switches for the bathroom are on the outside for whatever reason…

 

A sign inside a karaoke bar in the city center of St. Petersburg.

A sign inside a karaoke bar in the city center of St. Petersburg.

My rough class schedule is language classes M/W/F, and upper div. electives T/Th. It sounds pretty geeky, but I could have easily spent 2 more hours in my language class. This study abroad is totally self-motivated (we don’t have a Russian language department at UPS), and that makes learning that much more easier. Anyway, I’ve got classes tomorrow, and need to find out where the laundry room is, so for now I will just get some pictures in this post.

My Russian textbook, literal translation of title according to Ingra my language professor is "Success."

My Russian textbook, literal translation of title according to Ingra my language professor is “Success.”

Spakonia Nochi (good night),

-Andre (Andrew is the equivalent of Andriy in Russian)

Long Distance

Sitting on the stones outside the newly crowned Thomas Hall, Banji looked confused as I held up my phone, opened up the camera app, pressed record video, and began prattling off bits and pieces of the day. He glanced between me and the screen and added on details to my recollections. We informed the camera that Maya had wanted to buy four boxes of hot pockets (Banji took them out of her cart because, “She’ll die in a month of hot pocket consumption.”); about the death of Gabe’s phone and his Uber trip to Safeway for a last-minute temporary-replacement burner phone; and our failures in super gluing a car phone mount via a confusing messed up jar lid and Pringles can connection. Immediately after finishing the video, I sent it to Emily.   

Long distance seems increasingly relevant in college. The beginning of each semester is met with hugs and how are you??? and I missed you and catching up on the peaks of the summer and the mundane everyday. The beginning of my sophomore year was met with friends moving into our Trimble suite all at once and immediate inside jokes and snapchats of hands up in the air captioned “REUNITED.” Junior year, in a way, has begun with a rockier start. Everyone is everywhere, busy around campus, and the best friends I’ve made at college are packing their suitcases to begin their respective semesters abroad.

There are gaps that need to be filled and the distance during those months can seem expansive. I’ve gotten in the habit of texting Emily every morning, sending her videos throughout the day, recapping everything that has happened, asking stupid questions, and letting the conversation ramble (a text a sent her last week: “tell me all of the hip 1996 baby names”).

While there’s still how are you and I miss you. It’s an I miss you and I wish you were here but it’s okay that you’re not and I want you to have a good time and tell me everything. It’s a tell me everything right as it’s happening and on a daily basis and then you not being here isn’t as sad. Conversations aren’t focused on I miss you but on stories of, “We’re in a restaurant right now and I see this guy I went to middle school with and I’m showing my mom photos of him on Instagram. She wanted to zoom in, so she double tapped it, and she just liked the photo.”

The videos fill the gaps of the mundane every day and insert the humor of bad sunburn lines and listening to the Shrek soundtrack; they are I miss you but it’s going to be okay.

Headed to Mother Russia

8/18/16

It’s 12 o’clock on my last day of work at my on-campus summer job here at UPS. I’m sitting at my desk with a fan whirring beside me, googling how to go about writing a study abroad blog. I’ve never been one to keep a journal or diary so I’m hoping my posts won’t come across as too contrived. I guess to start out I should tell you a bit about myself.

IMG_0731

I’m a 23 year old junior here at UPS. I’m an international business major, just started playing rugby here this past semester, and for the past year have been planning to study abroad in Russia. I don’t speak the language, have never traveled to the country, and do not know anyone who lives there. Probably the top two responses I’ve received when talking with others about my plans are: “Why Russia?” and “That’s crazy man.”

You know, the more I begin to think about it maybe it is a little crazy. It wasn’t until a year ago I had even considered studying abroad when my faculty advisor strongly suggested I consider doing so, referring to it as a “once in a lifetime, life changing experience.” As for why, I don’t really have a one tell-all response that can sum things up. Sure Russian cuisine isn’t world renowned, the tap water in St. Petersburg may be contaminated with an intestinal virus and heavy metals, and during the winter the temperature drops below freezing, but that’s just focusing on the negative aspects of the situation. I’ve created the opportunity, for an entire academic year, to immerse myself in a completely new culture that I’ve always been curious about.

At the moment I only have a few goals while studying abroad, but I’m sure this list will grow:

-Learn the language

-Be assigned a babushka during my homestay

-Travel the Trans Siberian Railway

-Volunteer at the Hermitage Museum

As for the frequency of my blog posts, ideally I would like to post at least bi-monthly. I’ll try to post as many photos as I can, and candidly share my experiences. Most sources recommend that a travel or study abroad blog be designed with a recurring theme, but at the moment I’m still trying to figure out what that should be. This is my first time blogging…any thoughts or suggestions? If you have any requests for things you want me to find out while I’m there, feel free to email me!

-Andrew