First day of “classes”

So, today I was supposed to start classes, but it was just an orientation session… that I missed anyway. Whoops!

No one is surprised.

It was alright; they gave me kind of wonky directions the first day, and so I ended up at the wrong Russian language faculty building (my classes are another four or five blocks from the university, so it’s not like I was two doors down from the right place). The director of the international students department in the building I was in had me in for tea and everyone there was super nice as they tried calling everyone they knew to figure out where the heck I was supposed to be. Everything worked out in the end and I found the right building and the people I needed to talk to, and it doesn’t seem like I missed much at the 45-minute long orientation session.. except possibly things like “who and when do I pay?” and “when do I register so that I don’t get kicked out of the country?” But I’ll be back at KFU tomorrow anyway, so I’m not too worried.

Good thing it’s been sunny and warm all day! I refused to be flustered about it. I think I could feel my heart beating at x6 normal speed, but everything was okay in my head and my Russian was much, much better today. If only I could keep my head like that during sports matches, high school volleyball would have been a LOT more fun…

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Король Ричард

Ричард

[King] Richard

My host mom’s cat, Richard. I’m obsessed. I don’t even really like animals, especially cats, but this guy is simply the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen in my life. I know it’s difficult to see because of the poor lighting and my iPod’s less-than-optimal camera, but he’s got this gorgeous fluffy grey coat and huge golden eyes. He’s quite majestic. In fact, for a little while I couldn’t decide whether or not to speak to him using «ты» because he’s so darn regal, but now I tease him for sitting in the hallway all day with his sweater (on his left). He seems to think it’s his podruzhka, or girlfriend. I suppose they do look and feel rather similar…

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Welcome to Kazan!

Warning: I know this might be an overly long post, but it’s got to be written. So please be patient with me, haha.

After thirty-two hours of being awake and on guard in the airports, I was very pleased to finally get to my destination, regardless of the fact that here it’s already 50 degrees F and raining constantly. After a long bus ride from the plane to the terminal, we waited another half hour for our baggage to arrive (on the only baggage belt in the airport! First sign I’m in a small city, yess!).

As with last year’s trip to Petersburg, I’ve been blessed with an awesome host mom. After arriving at her apartment (fortunately the currency exchange and taxi stand were right at the exit in the airport, so I was good to go from the start), she fed me kystyby (кыстыбый, a Tatar dish that’s a kind of folded pancake with mashed potatoes inside) and tea, of course. Somehow I had passed the point of exhaustion into a sleepless place where speaking foreign languages isn’t so hard, and staying awake isn’t either. And anyone who knows me well knows that I really need my sleep, so I was a bit terrified for my psyche. Anyway, all this meant that somehow I was at the peak of my Russian-speaking abilities, and so now I have to live up to (or fail to reach, which happened the day after my arrival) this standard that my zombie self set for me.

Then the doorbell rang; it was my host mom’s neighbor Dina (who happens to be best friends with my host’s daughter, who now lives in Sochi) and her 6yo daughter Sabina. Perfect, she’s just like my 6yo sister, Helena! They’re all very warm people, and we all conversed and laughed in the kitchen for a long time, drinking my host mom’s homemade cherry wine while Dina smoked in the kitchen. [Proof that I am in Russia. Looooove it]

The day I arrived (Aug. 30th) happened to be Tatarstan’s independence day, so at about 10pm Dina, Sabina, and I walked (and sometimes ran, so as not to be late) down to the river to watch the fireworks (салют, или фейерверки). I was really excited about this. Until late last spring I had no idea that I would be going to Kazan instead of Moscow or Piter (sorry professors, I’m sure I stressed you out with my last-minute plans 😦 ), and being in Tatarstan is such a great surprise. I really knew nothing about it until about five months ago, so the research process and just being here has taught me a lot I didn’t know about Russia. Of course there’s still a lot I don’t know, but all this was out of the blue and a bit different from anything I’ve encountered before. I like the atmosphere of the city; it feels more open than Moscow or Petersburg, and the size is quite comfortable.

But on with the story. We came back to the apartment and finally I got to sleep. It was quite a greeting though, and I decided to take it as a good sign for the rest of my stay—we shall see. Now I’m off to meet my aunt for the first time, so wish me luck!

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Посмотрите, я поеду…

Posted from JFK International Airport at 3:22 pm.

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