We got invited to have tea and some authentic Russian food at a real Russian’s apartment! I can’t express how excited this made us! Living in the dorm sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live with actual Russians and how they actually live! The apartment was small but cozy. She served us some delicious Borsch. I didn’t like the Borsch I tried in the states but for some reason Elena’s borsch was delicious. I remember they played Linkin Park in the background. Rebecca and I have found an opportunity to help others practice their English conversation skills and in return we’ve found friendship, people willing to reciprocate practice with us, and a lot of fun! I love the humor that naturally comes with language learning! It feels great to help others with their English. Americans are so rare here! We met some of Elena’s friends, took many pictures, saw many of hers, and got invited to her church the next day! It was much easier to understand than the Russian-Korean Presbyterian one I’ve been attending Sunday mornings and since it meets at 4 I could go to both. I think I’ll try that again! It’s very nice befriending a Russian family. I hope we continue to do things together.
I recently asked myself “What type of tea do Russians drink?” I decided to spend my afternoon getting a hold of some authentic “Russian Tea.” I found a tea/coffee shop and found myself overwhelmed by all of their massive selection. Where to start?!? I asked the cashier if they had Russian Tea? She took me to a corner of the shop on dusted off some boxes from the lower shop. I snatched a box called “Yccuri Tea” I had seen this name on a map of Primorsky Krae- it wasn’t only “Russian” it was regional! I thought of how it must be the equivalent to Portland’s Stump Town Coffee and bought it right away. I also bought some “regional cosmonaunt” tea for the same reason- the beautiful box! The cashier had tried to explain something to me about the teas but I didn’t quite understand. All I grasped was that they were good for your health. “Perfect!” I told her, already convinced by the pictures. The boxes also had an English translation I decided to trust. When we took it home I tried the Cosmonaut tea. It tasted like watered down rust. But just think about all the minerals your getting! Our friend Artish was over and being a native Russian speaker studying English, he read the boxes and translated them to us. The Cosmonaut tea was good for enduring the harsh cold and emotional trauma- just what I need here in Russia!!! He picked up the other box and exploded laughing. I had read the “same” description in Russian and found nothing to laugh about. “This one” he began “is very good for . . . uh, men’s health” Rebecca and I shot eachother a look. We told him he didn’t need to explain anymore. Is there really such thing as “Man Tea” in Russia?!? I guess so! How embarassing. I confess it took me a while before I would try it. Rebecca tried it for me first. She liked it. It wasn’t bad. Actually it was better than the Cosmonaut tea but I think it’s “potency” is wasted on me.
There is so much I could write about right now and so little time! The week before last Rebecca and I returned to our rooms to find someone had been in our room! They had taken our towels, bedding and . . . plastic bottle collection! We were grateful that we had “fresh” bedding but were a little more disturbed by our missing collection. To be honest I didn’t even notice that the bottles were gone when I first got back. But then the older lady who lives on our floor (I am still not sure what to call her . . . ) knocked twice very quickly and came in to ask us why we had so much garbage in our room. She meant the plastic bag we kept of plastic bottles (& other “recycable” goods). I didn’t know how to answer her. We started the bag without thinking and then kept adding to it out of some sort of wishful thinking/nostalgia. It wasn’t that big. And it was tucked between the counter and fridge but she found it nonetheless! The funniest part was when she dug under Rebecca’s desk to take out a plastic bottle she had been using for water and took it away to show me how to depose of it. I didn’t know how to explain to her and didn’t understand everything she was saying to me. I wonder what they must think of us dirty Americans I am sure our room is quite messy compared to what they must be used to seeing.
I’d consider myself pretty “settled in” by now. I am starting to develop a routine. I live in the dorm on a fancy floor for foreigners. I remember thinking that our room felt very large. But I didn’t realize how much of the “posh” treatment we really got until Rebecca and I became friends with some Russian students on the other floors. I remember the lingering shock I felt after Artish explained that the other floors didn’t have washers. I was complaining that we only get to use small washers once a week and the rest of the students wash their clothes themselves! Eek. We also have fancy new windows that are sealed and open and close easily. I haven’t been in a “regular” Russian room so I am not sure how else it differs but for one of the first times in my life I feel among the most privileged at our school! It’s so strange to describe!
Classes are about an hour and a half each and we have at least 2 and sometimes 3 a day. We take Reading/Writing and Conversation twice a week. Grammar 4 times a week. And we have a video class about Russian cities (so far, at least) and a music/phonetics class once a week. Rebecca and I also take a special class (with just us) that has included the history and geography of the city and our instructor told us that we can help shape what we’ll study later. And yes, ALL of our classes are in Russian. In our classes we study with the same group of girls from Korea and Japan. Altogether there are 7 of us so far. I enjoy my classes for the most part. Today our “history” class was extra long because our teacher had a doctor’s appointment during last class. I thought I wouldn’t make it through over 2 hours of lecture on Russian history/geography in Russian but it wasn’t all that bad! She showed a video the school made about studying at the university and about my dream– riding the Transsiberian Railroad. Class didn’t feel like it lasted that long. And I didn’t care that it went over because I got to ask some questions!
Today in conversation class I shared the weather. It’s 20-23 degrees C. It is so hot! I thought Russia was suppose to be cold!!! The worst part is that intentionally brought less warm weather clothes trying to save space. I have few t-shirts and can only use a small washer once a week! I told a Russian friend of mine that I guess I should just buy some cheap t-shirts here. He countered with the suggestion that I should just wash my shirts more often. Of course, he meant by hand. I admit the idea seemed ludicrous at first. By hand?!? But on a day like this when I am wearing a “dirty” and sweaty long sleeved shirt I can’t think of a better idea! Hand-washed clothes here I come! When will it get cold?!? Not soon enough! I am not use to the humidity here.
Hello Jessica and Rebecca,
It has come to my attention that we inadvertently forgot to issue a food
allowance stipend to each of your accounts.
These are the first two lines from an e-mail from my college’s overseas office. We had asked the administration here at FENU about the food stipend that we had paid for in advance but they knew nothing about it! We have had some money to buy food but were counting on recieving money for food throughout the semester and with book and school fees it could really help! Hopefully they can desposit the money in my checking account so I can access it here . . . We’ll see!
We were told that:
If you can drive in Vladivostok you can drive anywhere!
Somehow I have a hard time imagining this. Especially since most other places have traffic laws. As far as I can tell Vladivostok has none. There are no “right of way” rules. I’ve seen two traffic lights in the entire city. I remember when I first started to learn to drive and I wondered what driving would be like without traffic laws. I no longer have to imagine! I’ve started to stop counting how many times I “almost” got hit or had to jump on the curb. Of course, walking on the curb without paying attention to traffic isn’t entirely safe either! Yes, I’ve had to dodge side view windows on the sidewalk. Cab drivers insist no seatbelts are needed and they tuck them behind the seat. And they smoke, talk on the cellphone and flirt with their girlfriend in the front seat all at the same time! The traffic here keeps me praying everyday! I remember one instance in particular where I was a step away from being hit by a bus. A single step! The drivers here maneuver around the clumps of people on the crosswalk. They study the pace of the pedestrains and assume you’ll keep at that pace so that they can just barely sneak by you. NEVER speed up or slow down too much in the crosswalk unless the driver is figuring you’ll just dodge him, which some do. I’ll never complain about how dangerous traffic is in Portland ever again!
Welcome to my site! I decided to make this blog to chronicle my adventures and keep in touch. Next fall I plan on studying at the Far Eastern University in Vladivostok, Russia. I decided that the adventure has already started and so should my blog! Join me as I prepare for a life changing experience!
Дальний Восток here I come!