Hey guys! Today marks the halfway point of my trip. This is super bittersweet. I am sad that time is flying so incredibly fast over here. I know that I won’t have time to do all of the things that I want to before I have to leave. I have been accumulating a list:
1) Russian Bannya (This is similar to the sauna culture in Finland)
2) Puppet Theater
3) venturing into the forest
4) order a bottle of vodka at a restaurant with a group of friends and drink all of it.
5) become fluent…
6) Ferris Wheel on the beach
7) go to a dacha
8) Travel the far east
These are just a few things that I really wanted and still want to do, but I know that I won’t have the time or means to do all of them! :(. Oh well, I guess that just means I will have to make my way back to Russia post-grad at some point.
I am also relieved to know that I am halfway through, because everything now will be relatively smooth sailing. The first two months were a real challenge and struggle for me. I now have a group of friends, know my way around the city and feel relatively comfortable walking by myself, can communicate my most important thoughts pretty fluently, found a job, and have adjusted to being in class for over 5 hours every day. I also feel proud of myself for all that I have already learned and accomplished. go me!
Also, on a very exciting note, we had hot water for six hours. It was glorious! I took full advantage of this and took a 45 minute shower. I love taking long hot baths, but I am NEVER in the shower for over 7 or 8 minutes so this was definitely a record for me. I NEEDED it for my own sanity! Normally, when I boil my water for a shower, I only havea about 5 liters of water, and I just don’t think that is enough to sufficiently clean myself, especially since I only did this once a week (I wash my hair everyday by just dunking my head under the ice cold faucet :) ). Last night I was able to finally get rid of all of the dirt! Also, I realized that back home I used bath and showers as a means of escape or alone time. If I felt stressed or overwhelmed, I would just hop in the shower for a few minutes and feel completely refreshed. I feel like I had a lot of pent up energy these first few months just because I did not have this outlet for stress. Sadly, the water is no longer hot…. I am very hopeful that it will be back soon (especially since it is a chilly 35 degrees right now outside).
I have also found my all time favorite restaurant called Ух, ты блин. It is a hip, clean, cheap Russian pancake house. (blin (the russian pancake) is a crepe style pancake). I always get two different bliny when I am there, a sweet one and a savory one. The sweet one I usually get is made with walnuts and honey. The savory one is melted cheese with tomatoes. I totally consider this to be an acceptable substitute for quesadillas. Anyways we have the same server every time we go and I think he thinks I am a glutton because I order two and then order ice cream (they have a gelato bar and I just cannot say no to gelato…). He always smirks when he hears how much I am ordering. I really can care less though at this point because I will never have this delicious food for this cheap again! I would eat there every night if I could!! I am drooling just thinking about this place!!!
I have recently discovered two amazing ways to connect with the western world: podcasts (I have always been afraid to try these, I don’t know why, but now that Michael has introduced me to this wonderful world THEY ARE AMAZING!)
and the foreign language library on campus. I went up there a few weeks ago and the librarian was SO wonderful. She loved the fact that I was from the US and personally went with me through the shelves to look at books (Despite, her interest in English literature we still spoke in Russian, which I appreciated). A lot of the English books were shortened versions made for students who were learning English, but they probably have ~200 full novels. I checked out three books and have been reading away. Every night before I go to sleep, I read and then listen to a podcast.
Our history professor is bringing us Russian books to read, which I am also really excited for. She printed the first five chapters of Anna Karenina for us to read and I had no problems getting through it. I don’t know if this is because my understanding of Russian is getting to be good enough or if it is because I have already read the book in English and know the storeyline. Either way it felt awesome to be reading it in the original language.
I will write more in a week! I am sure that I will have some interesting insights on the Russian’s take on Halloween. Also, we are going to the opera on Monday! I have never been to the opera, but am soooo excited to dress up and see what it is all about!