Well I’ve been sitting here and I realize that it has been over two weeks since I last blogged. I guess time just flies by sometimes. So after reviewing my last post and master calendar, where to start…tak… Of course, my home-stay!
So remember that brief group of things I wanted to get accomplished in my first post? Well one of them, get a babushka, has been accomplished. I went to meet my babushka on a (средой вечер) Wednesday evening. Her name is Natalia, but I call her Natasha. In Russia often you find that when you get to know someone to the point that you can interact on an informal basis, you call them by a different name. I took the Chang twins to dinner with me so they could see what a home-stay was like, see the picture below.
Natasha started off the evening with some drinks and light hors d’oeuvres, followed by salad and cold cuts. Next, we had an amazing soup followed by stuffed bell peppers and homemade pizza. Finally, we had dessert and chai (tea). Needless to say we were stuffed. This is how meals are most days when I actually make it home to eat. I’m never without something to do around the town. During dinner Natasha put on a WWII movie that was in Russian, and proceeded to translate all of the dialogue to us. I can already notice myself increasingly retaining and using Russian words in everyday conversation, and I attribute this partially to my home-stay, and obviously to Tay as well.
My classes have been going well. In my literature class we’ve read: The Song of Igor’s Campaign, Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, and A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov. I love my literature classes. We get into so much depth about all the symbolism and history of the authors of these classical works of Russian Literature. My Literature professor Tatiana has a really soft voice though, so sometimes I have to grab an extra coffee at break to stay awake. We also have class from 13:30-16:00, which is definitely longer than any class period I’ve had at UPS. My language classes are also a lot of fun. I’m starting to be able to formulate sentences in Russian, and I never thought I would pick up reading and writing as fast as I have. I’m no expert by any means, but having never studied Russian I’d say that I’m doing decently. Below is a picture of our classroom and our professor Inga.
So in Russia the cost of living is extremely inexpensive. A 20-30 minute Uber ride on average runs me 150P (roughly less than 3 USD). A filling lunch at school costs me anywhere from 150P to 400P (~2 to 5 USD) depending upon how hungry I am. Living in Russia as an American is great cost wise.
I also attended a conversation exchange with other Russian students in the area in the past couple of weeks. The room must have had a dozen bottles of champagne, mixed drinks, chips, pretzels, chocolates, etc. There were about 70 of us in this room, speaking broken English and Russian to one another. It was great! I haven’t been back there recently, but I think this place called the Ambassador’s Club will be a great resource in the coming months.
The other Americans and myself went on an excursion to Veliky Novgorod. This is a province roughly 3 1/2 hours by bus from St. Petersburg, Russia. We visited the oldest cathedral in Russia (see pictures below). It was a long bus ride, and I didn’t get as much of one of my lit books read as I wanted, but we did manage to take a few productive naps. Tay and I broke away from the group toward the end of the tour because we wanted to keep seeing the fortress at Novgorod, when others were interested in getting McDonalds. Unfortunately we misunderstood where the bus was meeting everyone, so we ended up delaying our departure. Sorry to all yall hangry people on the bus. I also managed to pick up a couple huge head scarfs from a babushka vendor. She didn’t speak English and I don’t know nearly enough Russian, but I still managed to haggled the price down somehow (it’s a mental game).
The other Americans and I attended a Russian hockey game last Friday. Our team was SKA, who almost scored in the double digits against the visiting side whose name I forget (probably because they were so horrible). Tay, Sara, Tiffany, and myself got to the area a bit early and decided to go to a Кофе Хауз (Coffee House) for a drink before the game. We also walked through an open air market beforehand and got to see some interesting vendor stalls; nothing that caught the eye though. Anyway, if you think Americans get passionate about their football, or the English get excited about their…football…then try going to a Russian hockey game (it was off the hook). I wish I had taken more pictures at that game instead of snapchat.
Now something I had been waiting to see for a while, Swan Lake. This ballet performance took place at the Mikhailovsky Theater right in the central downtown area of St. Petersburg, Russia. It was an amazing performance, and I mean come on, it was the world renowned Russian ballet! Best part of the performance, hands down, was the black swan. Tay and I got all fancy and took an Uber there early. We ate at a restaurant called ChaCha, which was decent. I got to talking to our waitress Elizabeth, who is also a student, but at the local government policy and customs university. Her English was quite outstanding to say the least.
Anyway, I’m going to head to bed now as it’s approaching 0:00. Thanks again to all the people giving me such kind words and asking me questions as you follow my blog. Any questions, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. On my next blog post I am going to try to get a video of what my walk to and from school and my home-stay is like (minus the metro of course b/c it’s illegal to film in there).