Monday, April 14, 2014

Vitally Important Post

Love from Russia! Have a great birthday :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moscow Memories Amongst Other Things.

Now that I am on a "Yes we finally made it through the open-class parent evaluation day" high and now I feel like I'm relaxed enough to finally update my blog. Today the parents of our students came in to watch us teach and, miracle of miracles, they apparently liked me. *Breaths out deeply* Successful lesson full of Pronouns, kinetic energy, potential energy, and slingshots.

Anyway. Moscow was such a great place, I'm glad I had the opportunity to go. Miranda and I were bunkmates on the "sleeper train". The train wasn't nearly as bad as everyone made it out to be and I got some decent sleep. Some of the girls made friends with the guys next to us after accidentally kicking one in the face trying to get onto their beds. I'm pretty sure Miranda and I died laughing at least three times that night.
A lot of quotes got added to our apartment quote wall after that train ride and I learned how to play a new card game. It was worth it even if we did have to wake up at four in the morning just to get off and sleep in the train station until rush hour was over. The seats are not very comfortable.

Staying at the hostile was a really interesting experience for everyone. It had three different names, "Narnia", being one of them. Yes. It's true. We stayed in Narnia while we were in Moscow. The only thing terrifying about it was the shower that we did not use because of how gross it was. We quickly washed our hair and that was it. I'm glad that we got to stay there during Women's Day, because in Russia, Women's Day is a BIG deal. A few of the people staying there struggled around language barriers to "Congratulate you on this holiday" and we had some men offer us their seats at a restaurant while offering us congratulations as well. People were giving out flowers to women on the street. Women's Day (which is different from Mother's Day) is just fantastic. The first thing we did when we woke up the next day was head to Red Square. We visited Lenin's tomb and got to see his preserved body, (though it looked so fake it left us all doubting and buying into conspiracy theories). It was heavily guarded and kind of exciting to go through. No pictures allowed so you only get a picture of Hannah and I posing like Americans outside of the tomb.

A Cathedral that we eventually tried to go to church in that Sunday. We were successfully kicked out, much to our regret. We were really lucky to have a bright, sunny day to travel around the city an explore. 

Megan and I, doing the titanic pose in front of the lake that Tchaikovsky supposedly drew inspiration from for "Swan Lake". We're still not entirely sure how this picture happened.  

But going back to Red Square. 
 We took gratuitous pictures of Saint Basil's, or at least I did, because of how breathtaking it was. It was such a cool experience to see the place in person that everyone always sees in pictures. I grew up always seeing the photos of the strange domes and bright colors, but now I have many shots of me actually in front of it. And in it. 

And posing dramatically in front of it. 


Because why not?

St. Basil's has a guest book that you can sign and date once you go through it, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to to leave my name in such a historic place. Look at all the different languages in it.

View of Red Square from the inside of the Cathedral. 

We finally made our way to the Kremlin, which was definitely a cool experience. It has such a cool collection of armor and carriages and clothing. Again, no pictures allowed, so the outside is all you get. 

We waited in line for an hour, so you also get pictures of us finally cracking under the boredom.

More Red Square.

Love-Lock Bridge was beautiful as well. It used to be that whenever you would get married, you'd put a lock on the bridge to seal the deal, but once it started destroying the metal on the bridge, the government commissioned these metal trees to be put up all over the bridge for people to hang their love-locks on. The effect that it creates is amazing. Once the trees are full, they send them to a park full of old love-lock trees.

It was also kind of funny to see all the different kinds of locks on the trees. Almost like they were trying to outdo each other.

And look at this beautiful view from the bridge.
Unmarked army trucks in the heart of Moscow.
Just gorgeous.

We also went to one of the most expensive malls in the world. Right in the middle of Red Square. It was three stories tall. I thought of Bethany the entire time.

The metro in Moscow has these signs all over the place where you interact with different pictures. Apparently, you can search the hashtag #metrocool on instagram to see all of them. The instructions are literally: Stand by picture, camera, hold eagle.

Or wrestle the alligator. #metrocool 

 On the last day, we went to izmailovo (A giant flea market) and bought my family and friends some souvenirs. Bargaining with the vendors was probably a lot more fun than it should have been. Hey mom, how many of these Russian matryoshka dolls do you want me to bring back? They've got plenty. Hannah's shopping is done. Will's shopping is done. Elijah's shopping is done. And some friend's shopping is done. I wish we had a place like this back at home. 

You meet all sorts of people there. I bought Elijah's gift from a man that only had gold teeth, and got into a five minute conversation with a guy who only spoke French. 

All in all, Moscow was great and I'm glad I'm happy I got to visit, but I'm glad I live is St. Pete. 

And Now Back to Random St. Pete Photo's and Explanations. 

Miranda and I have allowed ourselves one day a week were we can go and buy an AMAZING chocolate muffin from the street vendors. It's only 30 rubles (less than a dollar) and it's one of the best things I've ever tasted in my life. So after a particularly hard day of teaching, we decide it's pastry day.

Pizza Picnic in the Heat Teacher's apt.

What happens when you try and take a picture with all of your kindergarten students.

I almost left the school before realizing that one of my kids had put our four corners game on my back. Miranda was laughing pretty hard. 

I'm falling more and more in love with this city, and I know that it's only going to get harder to leave the longer I stay because we're only half done here and I already don't want to think about leaving it. I know the metro by heart now, and can speak and read enough Russian to feel comfortable buying things by myself for the most part. I'm no where near good at it, though. 
I switch host families this Saturday. It's bitter sweet, because I love the one I'm in currently, but I'll be able to experience more and the other family is closer to the HT apt, rather than an hour long commute everyday. 

Random things:
  1. My 9-year old students learned that I have a dog named Buddah. They think it's the funniest thing in the world and have made a song about him. It consists of saying his name over and over again to the tune of "Agent P" from Phineas and Ferb. 
  2. I have witnessed the kids in my host family do a Russian Golem impression and it's wonderful. 
  3. The graffiti here is sometimes in English and it's just random words like "Dirt" and "Elmo" and I find it hilarious.  
  4. My host-brother's teacher wants to know if I'll be able to come into their English class in two weeks and have them answer questions from a native speaker. That makes me sound super exotic but I'm really not. Still, I'm super excited and it should be fun! 
Until next time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One Month Down

We've now been to quite a few Cathedrals, all equally as beautiful as the next. It's really weird, having to get used to the fact that you'll walk down the street and you'll see either a Cathedral, or a palace on every corner.

I wandered the heart of St. Pete for a bit on the day we visited St. Issac's and started taking selfies with as many statues as I could find. (We're going to look past that, now.)

St. Isacc's Cathedral.

We've now eaten out twice at a Russian fast-food joint called Teremok. My favorite part of it is the Morc that they serve. It's definitely the best juice that I've found here. 

This is Svieta, the lovely lady who takes us out to fantastic sites on Saturdays and teaches us about the history. 

Necessary picture I took while walking home the day after Valentine's Day.

Watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics with my family. 

My host-brother showing off his Bilbo action figure.

We walked in to the kindergarten one day and apparently they go all out for birthdays.

Okay! Last Sunday was one of my favorite days in St. Petersburg so far. March first is the Russian spring festival where they decorate everything with suns and burn the "Winter Witch" to welcome the spring. We went to the Peter and Paul fortress for the second time to go and celebrate. 

The first time we went mainly consisted of exploring the prison and doing things like this: 

(Weirdest statue ever, but actually has a lot of symbolism attached to it)

The next time we went (last Sunday) we went for the festival.

It consisted of singers and dancers.

Dancing contests.

Street performers.

Invisible men.

Russian rappers.

Dance circles, which Hannah, Lexi and I crashed. That's right. We wedged our way into Russian dance circles and danced.

I'm having a lot of fun here. Teaching can be rough, but it gets easier every time I do it. I'm really glad that only one month is over with, because I'm not ready to leave yet. :) We're taking a sleeper train to Moscow this weekend and I'll hopefully get a lot of souvenir shopping done. 'Til next time! (Which is who knows when.)