Above: The Road to Kharkhorin
Taken while traveling in Mongolia. October 2010.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Three weeks later… still no significant signs of “adaptatsiya”…

Thus far there hasn’t been much integration, and understandably so: I’ve spent only four of the last twenty-one nights at my host-mother’s, and basically lived as a tourist from my arrival in Moscow until last Sunday. Once my good friend Fritz arrived, we started couchsurfing together, and what was supposed to be only a few days of visiting turned into two weeks. I guess the fact that he was on vacation made me feel like I was as well. But it was just a fake-ation. Somehow I managed to balance sightseeing, going to museums and bars, attending classes, rehearsals, mainstreams, and doing other student-y things for a little over a fortnight! It has, however, proven to be quite the slow start in terms of “full-immersion” or “adaptation” or any of the other phrases mercilessly thrown at students overseas.

In the past two weeks, we met and met-up with a lot of people, made new friends, including Fritz’s знакомые from Turkmenistan:

Plov. Ogurtsi. Various salads.

Mom they tricked me into drinking vodka.

This strange, elongated first part of my stay in this inebriated mammoth of a city is far from over. I still don’t have a set schedule (the search is still on for a couple of “mainstream” classes with Russian students at RSUH), but I found out today that I’ll be playing in the Gnessin State Musical College’s concert band! Its rehearsals have narrowed down my choices for classes a good bit, so I’ll have a set schedule soon enough.

In other news, our coordinator Will bought our tickets to Vladivostok not too long ago. We leave in two and a half weeks.

For this period of uncertainty to end, I think I just have to figure out what I’m expecting from these next 4 months. I figure everything was great in Irkutsk, so everything should be great in Moscow, right? I’m not used to actually living in such a huge city (cities I’ve lived in include: Salinas, Monterey, Clermont-Ferrand, Middlebury, and finally Irkutsk, whose 600 thousand inhabitants don’t really compare to Moscow’s 10 million…), and I haven’t quite come to the realization that I need to get used to it. Every time I think about it, I’m overwhelmed by the city’s enormity and its fast-pace lifestyle, and I just get the feeling I won’t have the time to do anything. I guess I’m still used to the Irkutsk way of life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Here we go again...

So it’s been a little more than two months since my last post. This is mostly due to laziness, although these past few months have been quite eventful.

My last month and a half in Irkutsk was absolutely packed with exams, concerts, translations, old and new friends, parties, emotions, and other events and festivities (including one major unfortunate event resulting in me losing my phone and wallet and not getting a new bank card until four days before leaving). January 9th, the day of my departure, was one of the saddest days of my life. Some fifteen friends saw me off at the train station. I was doing fine, but once I saw a few of them run after the train I was no longer able to hold back the tears. There I was, sitting with 59 other people in a platskart wagon headed to Krasnoyarsk, quietly whimpering in the corner of my compartment. In a way I think it’s good that I left while everything was going so well, I figure that way my memories and impressions of Irkutsk will be that much better.

Walking to school

A friend's birthday party

My farewell party

Гудбай Иркутск!

Our choir's New Years party

I left on the train and did about half the Trans-Siberian Railway (Irkutsk-Moscow), making stops in Krasnoyarsk and Yekaterinburg for two days in each city.

Stolby National Nature Reserve in Krasnoyarsk

Вантовый мост в Красноярске
Suspension bridge in Krasnoyarsk, above the Yenisey River

Chapel on your 10 ruble bill

Somewhere between Krasnoyarsk and Yekaterinburg

Nicholas II and family were executed
on this spot (Yekaterinburg).

Happy Old New Year!

ЦПКиО имени Маяковского - Mayakovsky Park in Yekaterinburg

Center for Contemporary Art Vinzavod

I’ve been in London for two and a half weeks now (too long if you ask me). Since I’m changing institutes in Russia and since it’s the institute that issues students their visas I had to leave the country to get a new one. And since Americans can acquire a visa in either New York or London, I chose to come to London, thinking it would end up being cheaper… Also, going back to the US right now would have been too weird.


The Heath

Some bridge...

I fly out tomorrow morning to start my semester in Moscow. It’s strange to say, but I really missed Russia. When I first got here, all of this order, bus schedules (or the fact that there are actually marked bus stops), smooth roads, politeness, English, and general sense of security in the West really made me uncomfortable. I felt like I was in some strange make-believe fairy-tale land where there don’t seem to be any problems or complications… Hopefully it won’t be too hard to get back into the swing of things.