Hello Hello, I thought I would give a little update about classes and what I have been up to for the past few days.
For those of you who are interested, I will give you the lowdown on what and how many classes I am taking. First of all, I no longer have class on Saturday. I think that we did enough whining about this that they rearranged our schedule. This is a wonderful thing, but it also means that some days I have 5-6 hours of Russian Language in a row. It is mind numbing, and by the last class it feels like I am not taking any information at all. Each class is an hour and a half and all but one are entirely in Russian. Otter and I calculated that we have a total of ~24 hours of Russian every week. At Lewis and Clark we had approximately 12 hours of class total. This means and feels like we have doubled our work load. No, we are not writing any serious essays or doing reasearch or anything of that sort. Yet, the classes are just as demanding. We have about 2 hours of hw for each class. On the one hand, it feels like I am spending all of my time working. On the other hand, that is why I came here! So, here is a list and short description of the classes I am taking (the levels of the classes vary… in some I find myself understanding everything and in others I am 100% lost).
Природа России (Russian Nature): This class kind of reminds me of 1st grade a little bit, which is awesome because I have recently been in denial of the fact that I am no longer a child. The class is not about the “nature of the Russian people,” but about the actual nature of Russia, which means we are now learning about animals! I just did a presentation on polar bears! We spent last class coloring tigers! Even though the class seems a bit juvenile, I am learning some important vocabulary.
Практикум по развитию речи (Speaking practice): These classes are much smaller. I am with the three other American students, two Korean students and two Chinese students (They have already been here for 2 years). We have this class four times a week with two different teachers. We have discussed many different topics! A few include Climate Change and art. I think that these classes have been the most useful. I have picked up a lot of vocabulary from them.
Межкультурные Коммуникации(I think this translates to something along the lines of Intercultural interaction): This class is very strange and very interesting. On one day it is a group of about 40 students. Us (the four Americans), a group of about 15 Chinese students and about 20 Russian students. Our first project was to go out into the city with your partners (I had Russian and Chinese partner). This proved to be REALLY fun and I can tell that the two of them are going to be some of my closest friends here. We are planning to go to the movies and a bar together this weekend. On the other day it is a lecture class for just the American and Russian students. I leave this class with the largest headache because it is essentially a lecture prepared for Russians (80% of class is Russian). The last lecture was about ethnocentrism and tolerance. From what I understood, this is now a mandatory class for all Russian students. I know that there are some serious racism issues here(like the US and pretty much everywhere..) and I think that this is one of the ways they are trying to solve it. I feel like we and the Chinese students are just a tool for the teacher to instill tolerance in the Russian students. We don’t play as much of a role in the conversation/lecture of the class. Either way, I am still leaving each lecture confused…I can just BARELY follow it.
History of the Far East: This class is half in English and half in Russian. I think that at this point it has a lot of potential, but our lecture today was pretty boring. We went over the general geography/economics of the Far East. I kind of felt like the teacher just copied and pasted information from Wikipedia onto slides and read from them. I understand that it is very difficult for her to be teaching in English, so hopefully we can make a change over to Russian soon. I believe that this class is going to be taught by a variety of professors and that it will include a lot of excursions (exciting!).
Грамматика(grammar): I don’t really know what to say about this class. It is Russian Grammar and that is that.
Чтение(Reading): We have been reading short articles in class together and doing exercises for homework. The class was pretty terrible last week because it was after the Lecture class and my brain felt like it was melting. I did not understand anything…
Аудирование(Listening): yay for a movie class!! Unfortunately, this is only once a week. We watched this terribly corny romcom last week and it was wonderful!
Основы русской культуры (Russian Culture): This class is with a very large group of Chinese students. We have been reading about the nature of the Russian individual and our final project is going to be answering the question What makes up the Russian Individual in an essay.
So yep! Those are my classes. It is exhausting, but I am learning, little by little. As far as organization goes, the teachers, classrooms and department seem to be a little all over the place. Teachers are ALWAYS 5-10 minutes late to class and often the room changes without informing us. We were 15 minutes late to our class today because we had no idea to where it had been changed.
So other things that have been going on:
I spent the day downtown with Otter on Saturday. We(mostly Otter) did some serious shopping and then settled down at a Sushi bar to have some coffee and do homework. It was fun practicing my Russian on the streets asking for directions(This city is an absolute maze… there are no such thing as real blocks). The people are soooo willing to help and are very very nice which made things easy on us. Later in the day, Michael met up with us and we walked along the shore. For dinner, we met up with two of our new Russian friends for Pizza. They then invited us to a bar. Finally seizing the opportunity, we agreed to go along. I had already had a bit to drink with dinner, but insisted on having some vodka and white russians at the bar… I probably had a bit too much, but it was fun to get a little bit loose after a stressful and emotional week. When we got back (before curfew which is at 11) my roommates were just getting ready to leave for the night (they stay out until morning). Our fuse had been blown, so I sat alone, in the dark, tipsy for a few hours. We got it figured out the next day, but something is still wrong with the shower light. This is a problem for two reasons
1) I now have to take freezing cold showers IN COMPLETE DARKNESS
2)The only room with a mirror in our suite is in darkness… Now, normally this wouldn’t be too much of a problem for me, but my roommate’s parents have brought us a full length mirror for our room. This means that all of the girls from the other room in our suite come into our room to do hair, makeup, admire themselves for minutes at a time all day/all night. Hopefully, we can figure out the light soon!
This weekend we are heading out (by train) into the forest to make shishkababs over a fire (at least this is what I think we are doing…. still having some language barriers)..It should be really fun and I will post photos and a narrative about it later. Happy Tuesday!!!!