just took a three hour study break to watch sound of music in miller with my blanket.
it will never get old.
I am finally understanding what tumblr is and how to use it, so I guess i am going to use this as personal blog / place to post things I like!! So, i hope you enjoy this as much as my musings from russia. :) :) :)
Grammie & Grandpa, I find it hilarious that you call Lewiston God’s Country, but yes I am very very excited to see you guys! I love you too!
So this was sadly my last weekend in Vladivostok, and I am starting to go into my panic mode. I hate saying goodbye and I hate the idea of “lasts.” But, I think that I made the best of my last bit of free time in the city. I am truly going to miss feeling so independent/meeting new people everyday/this beautiful city!
Here is a short list of things I accomplished this weekend-
*Last trip to our favorite microbrewery/restaurant.
*I bought so many souvenirs… It is out of control. I have no clue how I am going to get it all home… I think I am going to have to do some purging of clothing/other unnecessary things!
*Bought one of my favorite street foods (it is georgian cuisine.. super good, super cheap)
*Spent the rest of the day painting matriyoshka dolls/listening to christmas music. I shamelessly bought a set of wooden dolls with paint! It was so much fun!
*Spent the morning reading in my favorite coffee shop with a big pot of tea
*Met up with Michael and Elena (a girl who facebooked Michael saying that she was interested in hanging out with Americans. She was REALLY awesome and we hit it off pretty quick. I am very sad that I am just now meeting her)
*Went to the Aquarium (which was absoultely hilarious, I will post some photos on facebook. There were more dead fish there than live ones… They perserved them in these really creepy scientific jars…. Also, there were some dead fish floating in the tanks with live fish… It was kind of sad…)
*Went to a cafe and played clue, scrabble and jenga
*Went to Subway (I vowed that I would NEVER do that here… but Elena insisted. It wasn’t so bad. I just got a veggie sandwich)
This week is going to fly and I am going to be in panic(I probably already am in panic mode)! :’(
I am so excited to see all my friends and family though!
Ahh! The font turned out to be normal in the end.. Something wacky was happening on my side of things. Sorry! :)
So, I wrote up a short piece about the dorms a few days ago and was pretty hesitant about posting it because I didn’t want my family/friends/professors to worry about me over here. I have tried very hard to not allow my experience living in the dorms to define my experience in Vladivostok. I went out of my way to meet older students. I have become great friends with the Asian girls in my classes, Kristi and Michael, and quite a few older Russian students. I spend most of my time out and about in the city, but in the evenings I retire to my room and to the chaos of the lives of my roommates. I have kind of shied away from talking about them on my blog, because I really do not want to make it seem like this is my perception of Russian people as a whole. ALL of the professors, older students, vendors, waiters, and random other people that I have met have been very welcoming and kind. The girls I have been living with are an exception. As I mentioned in earlier posts, my roommates are between the ages of 16-17… and they ARE the girl group from Mean Girls… hahaha. At first I let it bother me because I thought that they hated me for no reason. Then I realized they are just crazy teenagers and hate everyone but themselves.
Like I said, I tried to spend as much time as possible outside of my room… but now I don’t have to… I will post what I wrote the other night.
To be honest, I could go on and on and on about my experience living on campus at VGUES. It has definitely been a roller coaster ride. The facilities/rooms are pretty nice (minus the fact that the city has no hot water between the months of may and november), some even nicer than my room in Platt at L&C. It is also super convinient to be this close to all of my classes. I don’t even have to go outside in the freezing cold weather to get to class every morning. It is wonderful. Dorm life has also improved my Russian A TON. I am surrounded by the language all the time and students are always coming by wanting to talk or hang out with me. I have loved comparing the roles of the RA’s here and what each resident is expected to do for/contribute to the community.
Despite all of these great things, I have had many very strange and sometimes even uncomfortable experiences in the dorms. I will probably go into these in more detail once I get back, but I think I had the scariest/strangest experience of all tonight. I was just curled up in my bed trying to translate a piece of poetry unsuccessfully due to my roommates shrieking/giggling/laughing (this is an EVERYDAY occurance… Please don’t call me a party pooper… I love fun and smiling and laughing, but their’s is to an extreme level… at a level where I can’t get work done at all. I have asked them to please be quiet, but they just laugh and mock my accent… whatever.. they are 16…). I must admit I was a little tiffed and hoping that something/someone would ruin their fun, but definitely not hoping for what came next. We hear a very loud knock on our door and in barges the most terrifying looking man I have ever seen along with the dorm mother. I didn’t catch everything, but I have never seen someone SO angry. Apparently he is the director of campus living’s husband. He was screaming that he has come by here over 10 times telling them how disrespectful they are. He was right up in their faces and even yelled “you are all fat cows”(which is definitely not true… they are some of the most beautiful girls I have ever met). He said that tomorrow morning they are going to have to pack up their bags and move to the basement (which is a pretty scary punishment, I should probably take pictures of the basement floor it looks like something strait out of the movie “hostel.”) The dorm mother eventually cut him off saying “that’s enough, they understand.” It was so scary. The girls were left crying and very upset. I feel awful. I know that they have caused me a lot of frusteration here because of their noise level, but they, no one for that matter, did not deserve that man in their faces like that. It terrified me/brought me to tears and I was all the way in the corner of my lofted bed under lots of blanket.
Unfortunately, with the way that the power structure is set up here, the students have very little say. I highly doubt that they would be able to do something about what happened here tonight.
I guess there isn’t much that I can do about it at this point, so I am going to get back to homework.
Update (please excuse the font… I have no idea what is going on/how to change it… yes i know i am pathetic/incompetent :) ) : so the girls are all being asked to leave… All 5 of them are going to be moved out by this weekend… I will have my last week here alone in the room. I am still a little in shock about the whole thing.. Part of me is happy that I won’t have to deal with them anymore, but part of me is upset that this guy is going to get away with his “attack”. Gah!
I am going to go take a shower now (gah… font!? WHAT THE HECK IT KEEPS CHANGING!!!) we are not going to have water for a few days again (redoing the piping) so I gotta wash up while I can!
Love and miss you all!! :)
Hello Maxene! I am REALLY looking forward to seeing people too! I am glad you asked me this question because I have been thinking about it a lot recently.
As always with these types of questions, it is very difficult for me to narrow it down to just one, but I will give you my top 3 favorite parts of the city.
1) The flower mall! I go out of my way to go through this when I go downtown. I am not entirely sure how to explain it, but I will do my best. Basically it is a very large building that connects one major street to another. Instead of going around the building, you can just go through it. The bottom floor consists of probably 20-30 different flower shops. It is LOVELY. The venders are super friendly, it smells amazing, lots of beautiful colors and lively people.
2) The coast! The city is built on a hill, so you can see the sea from practically any building downtown. I love getting dinner and watching the sun set over the water. It is absolutely stunning… every night!
3) This probably isn’t specific to Vladivostok. I am pretty certain that it is a Russian tradition… but after weddings the couple sets off a fire work show. Practically every night before I fall asleep I watch the fire works from my window!
!!! I am excited too! Much love to whoever you are!
wow, this is really sweet! let’s be friends now!!
Tara, I love you and can’t wait to hang out more once I get back… also
new TV screens???
Alyssa, I know this isn’t anonymous, but it is too funny not to post for the world to see. Unfortunately, I only am aquatinted with boys in the 16-19 age range. It is not a good age, I tell you.
I am doing it! Next weekend I plan on spending way too much money on way too many souvenirs!! I will probably wear this shall every day for the rest of my life. I have never spent that much money on an accessory before, but it is going to be so worth it!
So, I have been getting a lot of mail in my anonymous ask box. Some sweet, some insightful and some downright creepy hahaha. This is really embarrassing but I still don’t understand how tumblr works! How can people comment on my posts so that I know who is talking to me?! I want to be able to respond to all of my wonderful family, friends, admirers and acquaintances! Someone please help me! :) I am going to post a few of the nicer questions/comments I have received. Blocking out the creepy ones … hahaha. back off.. you know who you are :). (I guess that is the point of an anonymous box… you can be as creepy/nice as you want with no real consequences).
Happy Russian Election Day!
They had voting booths at our school. Everytime I went by one, I had groups of students ATTACK me asking if I have voted yet. I guess that is one way to get a turnout. Before I could finish explaining that I can’t vote, girls in the background would yell “Leave her alone! She is from England!” I guess they at least knew that I was a foreigner… haha.
Also, my roommate who DEFINITELY knows that I am an American asked me if I had voted. I just stared at her, shaking my head….
I am so so so pooped after another long and eventful few weeks. All of this business and learning has led me to catch my bi-annual “semester” cold. Fever, coughing, and runny nose. I took yesterday off to just lie in bed in my favorite dog pajamas (thanks to Zach’s wonderful aunt for giving these to me!), listen to christmas music,eat dried fruit and raisin cookies, read, and drink tea. My roommate has been handing a cocktail of pills and special mystery brews to drink. I am a little suspicious, but they seem to be doing the trick. Today I felt much better,got back into classes, and went downtown.
Time is flying and panic is setting in! I have been pretty busy over the past weeks with classes, figuring out my visa extension, meeting new people, taking ceramics classes and teaching.
It has gotten SO cold in the past few days. Last night it was -2 Fahrenheit… Last Wednesday we had some sort of freak snow storm. It probably snowed a good foot! It has been confirmed…. Russia is cold!!! It is not the friendly “baby it’s cold outside” bite either. It is a “get your butt inside or else” type of cold with wind that feels like billions of needles pricking your skin. I gotta say I am pretty happy that I am not spending the worst part of winter here (or in deeper Siberia for that matter..). I am a true NW girl at heart. :)
The international students office set up a really cool ceramics class for us a few weeks ago. First we went and molded some dragons (It is the Chinese year of the dragon). I am pretty proud of how mine turned out considering my artistic ability. A few days ago we went back to the studio to paint and glaze them. I will be able to pick it up and take it home as a souvenir next week! Contrary to what many Americans believe, our teacher insisted that not all art is “good”. There were clear right and wrong ways to sculpt this dragon. Our teacher went on to tell Michael that he was basically doing everything wrong and needed to start over because it didn’t look good (I didn’t think it looked bad at all. I wasn’t entirely sure what the problem was….). She didn’t like that Michael’s dragon had his toungue sticking out and she didn’t like the bow tie I added onto mine. Oh well, I held on to my artistic vision and didn’t let her change my mind. :)
On Thursday, we were given the opportunity to go and see Shuvalov, the Russian politician. Our director made it seem that he wanted to meet us personally, but it became clear that this meeting was more of an open forum. Both the art and military academies were invited along with the other large university in the city. The form was held in our theater. Security was minimal. We were asked to take our coats off by a group of girls at the door and that was about it. About 30 girls in these funny white and blue dresses (looked kinda like Alice’s dress in Alice in Wonderland) volunteered at the event to seat people and pass the microphones around. We were very fortunate to be seated in what seemed to be a VIP area (right by the mayor and other fancy looking old men). The camera’s were on us as soon as we sat down… After listening to some pretty threatening opening statements by the school’s director (if you ask a question, you must right down your full name, address and phone number for the party…) they showed us a short movie about how wonderful primorsky krai is. Shuvalov then took the stage and made a short speech about how important studying. He then opened the floor for questions. Most of the questions were very very pointed at him and the party. A lot about the rumors about the party tampering with the votes. One guy flat out asked “Why would any normal Russian vote for your party?” Shuvalov aggressively responded with “what party do YOU belong to?” Another student said that she was offended by something on the symbol for this summit. He responded with “nobody cares about what is on the symbol” Basically the environment was pretty scary and there was no way I was going to ask a question to this man. On the one hand I felt for him because he was being torn apart, but on the other hand he is Putin’s tool… so maybe he deserves it. I could probably say a lot more about the political situation over here. Maybe I will write a blog about it once I get back and have some time to reflect.
So this all happened on the morning of Thanksgiving. After this 2 hour conference (all in Russian), I needed a serious break. I spent the evening having a mini-panic attack about being alone on the holidays. I only had raisins to eat for dinner and I was upset that I didn’t have classes off and that I wasn’t at home with my family, so I spent the whole evening sobbing, reading articles on “how to spend the holiday’s alone” (which made me even more upset because it recommended “sitting by the fire”, “calling family”, “taking a bath”, all things I couldn’t do). Michael came and saved the evening though (apparently he was just as upset as I was) with chocolate and peanut butter (a very expensive product here… around $20 for a small jar). The next night Kristi saved the entire holiday by hosting a dinner party at her house. I felt very pathetic about my hissy fit from the night before after I had some much fun over there! We invited our whole class which included me, Michael, Otter, two Korean girls and two Chinese girls. Kristi’s roommate from the UK also joined in on the fun. Dinner was def. not traditional (we had salmon, mashed potatoes, (spicy!!!!) Korean food, and Chinese food.), but it was SO freaking good. It was a lot of fun to talk about thanksgiving traditions, sing christmas songs (and a few other American classics… you can never leave out “shots” at an American gathering with vodka), dance, eat, drink, and cuddle with Kristi’s adorable cat. We decided to call the taxi at 1015 thinking that would give us enough time to get to the dorm (it locks at 11). Unfortunately, the taxi didn’t make it until 1130 (wtf?!). We decided to take our chances and hope that if we looked innocent and nice they would let us in anyways. We were lucky. It took one knock and “But it was an American holiday…” and all the doors were magically opened for us. Maybe it was a little too easy to get into the building over an hour after curfew… :).
I can honestly say that I am going to miss spending time with the Asian girls from our class. They are so smart, sweet, and FUNNY! As Michael pointed out at our dinner, they are the only people who really see us as individuals here and not just “Americans”. BAH! I hate saying goodbye to wonderful people!!!!! :(. The world seems so much smaller to me now though and hopefully we will cross paths again.
Planning on doing some serious shopping this weekend (gettin’ paid!)! Wahoo! yay for retail therapy!
Love and miss you all! and will see some of you very soon!!