Monthly Archives: November 2011
Please forgive me, yet again. I have been extremely busy. I’m working on graduate school applications on top of teaching and grading papers.
So to catch you up…
I have mentioned that I am very possibly going to India in January…and that likelihood has increased! Ilene has confirmed that she is going and Mac will most likely be returning to Krasnoyarsk at the earliest in mid-January, so it looks like I’ll be going in the beginning of January. Time to look into getting a passport!
The sun has started to rise late and set early. It usually rises at around 10 AM and sets at about 4:30 PM. It is somewhat disconcerting to get up at 9 AM every morning and realize that it’s still dark out!
The weather has gotten much, much colder all of a sudden. This weekend the temperature ranged from +21 degrees Fahrenheit to…-20!!! This morning it was -11 when I woke up.
Moyi druz’ya, I have only gotten a taste of what it will be like. The temperatures here will plunge to -40! (Celsius or Fahrenheit, does not matter…that’s the point where the two measures converge!)
Here’s my description of the cold so far:
The cold has no flavor. It just leaves you numb where you are exposed. Literally. You can’t feel, except for the burning it causes in your throat when you’re breathing it in—even if you have a scarf wrapped around your neck. My tongue often goes dry with thirst—more so than with extreme heat, which I have also endured.
And everyone tells me I’m not dressed warmly enough, even though I generally feel fine. I wear boots, I wear warm gloves, I wear a scarf, and, of course, I wear my long down coat. And layers. Oh yes, layers.
It occurs to me that people might say I’m not dressed warmly enough because they are used to Russian girls being so thin. But I am not. For once, I am grateful that I am not so thin…
But do not get me wrong. Despite the bite of the cold, it brings beauty with it. The snow all over…it is a winter paradise here. It is breathtaking. And I’m in a city—I can’t imagine what the wilderness is like covered in white.
This reminds me of the song “Frozen” by Within Temptation, one of my favorite bands. I’ve posted the video below:
I hope you enjoy.
Take care and be well.
Well that sucks. I was going to surprise you with a video blog today, but it turns out I can’t put videos on here without paying $50+…which I don’t really have the money to do right now. Sorry!
Here’s a photo instead:
So, here’s the lowdown:
1) My internet has improved since I switched to cable internet. I was using a modem before, which runs through wireless internet. Wi-fi is sketchy in this part of town because of all the forests.
2) More karaoke went on yesterday. I went with my friends Elya and Polina. We had a good time, as always.
3) I’ve been a little frustrated. My students’ attendance to class has been rather…varied. This is not unusual for Russia, I am told.
4) Cleaned the apartment today. I feel so much better, somehow. Elya was with me and she helped out a lot. (Spasibo bol’shoe!)
5) We went out to go to an Indian festival today, but we got out there really late and then ended up on the wrong bus. Go figure. We’re going to try again tomorrow.
6) Interesting assignment for my students. I have given them the original English version of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” along with a Russian version. I have told them to read the English, then the Russian. Then they are to tell me the differences they see in the poem and to explain whether they think the Russian translation is good or not and WHY. I hope this is not too much for them, but they are studying to become translators, so I figured this was an interesting and engaging assignment.
7) Last but not least, I am possibly going to India in January. The trip to Thailand is a no-go—too expensive and I have no one to go with. I would like to go to India to see Mac and meet with my friend Ilene, who will likely be there all of January. It depends on a few things, but we shall see!
That is all for now, moyi druz’ya. I hope all is well.
Take care and be well.
I must apologize once more for my delay in writing. The internet has not been working well at all. It loads some sites (such as Facebook), but it does not load others (such as my e-mail and WordPress). I am able to write here today on a fluke. Ugh. This will be a short entry, I’m afraid.
I have also been quite occupied the past few days. I have been getting together with friends here at the apartment. We’ve been doing a lot of baking…making cake from scratch for example. Tonight a few of us are going to bake cookies from scratch. Chocolate chip is the best.
It is nice to finally have friends over. I enjoy being around people, especially on cold nights. We stay up late, we laugh, we listen to music, we sing, we take silly pictures, we bake, we have a great time. It eases the pain of missing my loved ones in other parts of the world.
Of course, the staying up late part is the reason I haven’t gotten much sleep the past few days. Oh well…I can sleep when I’m dead!
Like I said, this was going to be short. I must go now.
Until next time, be well and take care, moyi druz’ya!
…Or, better yet, “A Short Guide to Having Fun in a Foreign Country.”
Step 1: Find some friends who speak both the native language and your own. This increases the hilarity of it.
Step 2: Get warmed up by going out for pizza and sushi at a pizza/sushi bar. (Best. Combination. EVER.) Make sure to take lots of pictures, tell lots of jokes, and just laugh in general.
Step 3: Go into a supermarket and speak only in your language, NOT the native one. Speak loudly. Enjoy having the people stare at you.
Step 4: Find an item that interests you.
Step 5: Go up to a cashier and ask about that item in the worst possible accent in the native language. Apologize for your bad [insert language here].
Step 6: Listen to the guy who happens to speak your language as he comes up to you and tells you about that item and which brand is the best.
Step 7: Buy said item.
Step 8: Leave and commence laughter.
Yes, moyi druz’ya, this is precisely what I did last night. I went out with my friends Elya, Max, and Anya and we decided to play a joke, using the above steps. The “item” in question was, naturally, alcohol. (I am in Russia!)
To the guy from Germany who worked so hard to help us out last night, bless you. You deserve good things. You were such a gentleman.
I am writing this from my new apartment. I am sorry I did not mention it before, it happened kind of quickly. I realized I could no longer afford the rent with the host family, so I found an apartment within the past week and have now moved in. It’s gorgeous: one bedroom, a kitchen, a large closet, and a bathroom. Oh, and a balcony. I will be posting pictures later.
The apartment is located in a picturesque part of the city called Akademgorodok, which I mentioned in the last post. It’s not far from the university.
I must go now, but I wanted to catch you up.
Once again, I haven’t forgotten you, moyi druz’ya. This time it was the internet. I couldn’t get the website to load for a few days. Heck, I couldn’t get most websites to load. It’s better now.
Within the past week or so, snow has come in full swing. However, it’s not as cold as I would expect; it’s hovering in the 20s and 30s (above zero) at the present moment. I’m told I should enjoy it while it lasts.
Well, Halloween was interesting. I ended up throwing two different parties: one on Sunday the 30th for Liza and her friends at my host family’s house, the other on the 31st at the university for my students.
I ended up teaching my host family how to make pumpkin pie from scratch. It ended up being a big hit at both parties. It surprised me that most Russians have never had pumpkin pie—considering that pumpkin itself is widely consumed here!
The first party was fairly enjoyable. We had different activities, such as creating toilet-paper mummies, relay races, drawing contests, and, of course, trick-or-treating. The kids were dressed up in costumes…the most popular of which was, naturally, a vyedma [witch]. It was great up until someone opened the door in Liza’s face and hit her in the eye. After that, she had to go lay down and the kids were sent home.
The party at the university did not go as expected. Not to say it wasn’t good, but that it wasn’t quite what I had expected. I wanted to show videos and do a dramatic reading of “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe in both English and Russian, but the room I had reserved was double-booked and we were the ones who got kicked out. (I don’t know how that happened, seeing as I personally watched them write my name into the schedule for that room!) So we found another room and ate, drank, and told stories and jokes. We enjoyed ourselves nevertheless.
Also, this was my first snowy Halloween!
A couple of days ago, my friend Natalia, who is a professor married to another professor who was a Fulbrighter in the U.S. (that’s a mouthful, I know), took me to see Akademgorodok [“Little Academic Town”]. I had been told by many that it is a beautiful place, but I had not yet been there. When she took me there, I understood. It’s forested, located on the left bank of the Yenisey river, and has one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. We were there just after sunset (meaning, of course, 6 PM), so I got some great photos, like the one below.
Yesterday I went to a karaoke club with Max and his friends Anya, Ellie, and Alek. First we headed to a club called “Play Poy,” which is kind of a cute name. See, “poy” in Russian is the command “sing”. It’s a play off of “Play Boy” of course, but it’s still cute. It’s larger than the other karaoke club I went to with Mac (seems so long ago), Club Cleo. It’s also noisier and it didn’t have as many good songs as I would have expected. Max, Ellie and I all sang “All The Small Things” by Blink 182. We had signed up to sing other songs, but the line was so long, we would have had to wait at least an hour or more. So we left (at around 2 AM) and made our way to Club Cleo. Max and I rocked the house with “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence. We got a standing ovation. Woo! We ended up staying there until 5:30 AM. We went to a nearby 24-hour Subway to wait out the half an hour before the buses started running. (Yes, they have Subways in Russia…Ellie was surprised to learn that Subway is an American chain!) Eventually I hopped a bus and got home at around 7 AM, where I took care of a few things and promptly passed out in bed. You can imagine I am quite tired today…
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. At Club Cleo, a middle-aged man got onstage and was singing a love song. When he was finished, he approached me, took my hand, kissed it, and told me that I am a beautiful woman. He was very clearly drunk, so I just accepted the compliment graciously and didn’t say anything but a quiet “Spasibo.” That is, of course, until he approached me later and tried to dance with me, but I politely but firmly refused. There were a lot of very drunk people in the club at that hour. It made me a little nervous, as some of them were belligerent. Not necessarily aggressive, but verbally belligerent.
Moral of the story: Always go with people you know when you are at a club.
That is all for now, moyi druz’ya. Until next time, take care and be well.