From Russia with Love

Oct 152006
Authors: Hailey McDonald

Russian class – doesn’t it sound exciting already? Well, even though sitting in a classroom saturated with the smell of body odor for five hours a day, five days a week sounds rough- it’s actually a nice break from the monotany of eating cabbage soup and waiting in line for just about everything.

First day of homework: practicing my teachers name- Svetlana Nickolievna… say that 10 times fast. Even though her name is a tongue twister in itself, she’s about the nicest lady in all the land.

I was looking for peanut butter in the grocery store and she gladly assisted me by spelling out the Russian translation and helped me locate it. In the end, it turned out to be an entire can of solid caramel, but I think it’s the thought that counts. So, class isn’t that bad. Everytime I learn a new word, I can now reward myself with a teaspoon of solid caramel.

Well, I guess I can consider myself pretty much settled in. My month anniversary here was a few days ago. I know it’s cliche to say, but I really can’t believe time is going by so fast.

I have found a niche of friends: Ruth (from England) and Veerle and Peter (from Belgium). English is our language of choice, which is nice, but I must say that it is making my life outside of our little bubble difficult.

I know my thoughts are probably products of my constant procrastination, but I am absolutley positive my Russian will come with great ease without any work if I give it time….. right….

Even though I consider myself cozy, the learning never ceases. After a month of practice, you’d think that I would have the public transporation system down. However, it’s not necessarily the system that is difficult to master.

The physical act of riding in the public transportation is what will really get you. First off, the trams are packed- not just a little crowded, but in fact, so packed that most of the time you can’t really move you arm to pay the conductor much less maneuver yourself to the exit when you’re at your stop.

Also, I don’t mean to dog on the eastern europeans, but there is a time in life when we all have to come to terms with our own stench. Sometimes, you just have to realize that a sponge bath is not enough. These people… my lord. Seriously, like take a shower and buy some deoderant if you are going to insist on having physical contact with other pedestrians on the public transportation. I’ll let that thought marinate… until next time.

In recent happenings:

I was invited to a holiday at the local stadium. Thinking that holidays were all presents and good food, I was pretty excited. Little did I know what was to come next.

All of the international students were told to wear traditional clothing from our countries. I didn’t have any chaps or a cowboy hat, so I just threw on my “I heart NY” tee-shirt, a mini skirt and some uggs. Alright, so no skirt and Uggs, but it would have looked American, right?

I arrived at the stadium expecting only internationals… but soon realized we would be greeted by the ENTIRE first class of students. That’s about 5,000 people. In about five minutes they had all of the internationals lined up, literally marching around the stadium to traditional soviet music waving our hands high in the sky. This was all immediately followed by us informing the massive group of students where we were from in our native language over a microphone. Then we were shipped back on the bus back to the university. Happy holidays.

Next time:

A guy from Lebonon poops on my floor.

The secret code of Russian life.


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