Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ok so new post:
So yesterday may have been the most frustrating day I have ever lived took me 2.5 hours to get to school....oh yes as in 150 minutes...on the urgings of my babooshka I went to school on the trolleybus (I have four options: metro, trolleybus 15, bus, or walk which would take all day) - only what she didnt tell me is that these buses go in different directions depending on the side of the street, so I ended up going the wrong way for a stop - but since I had no idea where I was, I stood there and waited 15 minutes for it to refuel...when we finally left, we were met with tons and tons of traffic (i thought la was bad) we were almost to nevsky prospect, there was a trolleybus jam and I had to ask around about how to get to school, mind you by this time i am already late...but I get on bus 181,(again the wrong way,) so I had to get off, go to the other side of the street and take it the other way until I finally made it to Smolny Institute- then I had to walk to class....oi....i left my house at 830 and got to school at 1038 - trust me by the end of it i was ready to just pack up and say good bye to public transportation - i didnt know who to blame? my babooshka for making me go on the trolleybus, the inefficient russian trolleybus system (dont you know there is no russian word for 'efficiency'), or my own russian skills...
but i did go to the hermitage yesterday: AMAZING! too bad i was exhausted and way too tired to enjoy it all...but since i am a student it is free for me any time (becuase I now have a СПбГУ student card that gives me discounts/скидки almost everywhere) - that and if i want to take pictures i have to pay so no pics from inside yet...but believe me it was absolutely incredible - the winter palace changed into a museum - 400 rooms and if you spent 5 minutes in front of every work there it would take you 7 years to see it all...
It dawned on my that it is amazing how easitly i have begun to learn my way around St. Petersburg - how to navigate the city, how to walk around with a stoic face perpetually (smiles are a no no) how to shove my way onto the metro, how to avoid people's trails of smoke, etc. etc. I wouldnt say I feel like Ive always lived here, but is incredible how quickly I have begun to learn the ropes of the city
so just some observations and a list of survival skills I have compiled about russia:
1. go to the bathroom before you leave the house (public restrooms are not a concept they are familiar with here...Michael Jackson however is....hmmmm)
2. if you are a woman, invest in a good pair of spiked heels (if you want to fit in) and wear any combo of clothes in your closet and I mean ANY
3. if you are a man, and dark skinned, dont wear a beard, the militsia will automatically assume you are from chechnya and put you in prison just for good measure....
4. get used to seeing the militisia and police - they are everywhere...yet never seem to do anything - (and the women militsia wear high heels and short skirts...) in fact, they appearantly have a lack of militsia here but I certainly havent noticed...
5. abandon your personal bubble - that is also a nonexistant concept fact invading personal space seems to be the norm...
6. walk around everywhere! (as much as possible) the city is full of surprises on the streets
So if anyone wants to come here just some words of wisdom from a vetran St. Petersburger...haha
anyways class is going good - its tough потому что мы все разговоривали ПО-РУССКИЙ! but i am learning so much already - grammar, speaking, news, phonetics, culture, and russian movies! I love it! Yesterday we had Газета сегодня Кулиура (исскуство аркитектура историа) so so interesting...
Ok and about the host family situtaion - things are certainly warming up - I told the program how unhappy I was and they spoke with her appearantly because she has turned up the freindlyness - her grandson came over and brought me a writing desk so I can study, she has been cooking me ridiculous amounts of food (and somehow I am still managing to rapidly loose weight...), bought me ice cream and tons of cookies (their like crackers and delicious), washed my clothes, and sits down and talks with me at dinner now - its really nice actually - she is still a bit ornery and stubborn and has a tendancy to be tough and harsh before she is sweet, but I have been asking her questions and actually finding out a lot about her life, the life of st. petersuburg, russia, etc....i think she is just a product of the time she was born in (shes 74)...the war or the Великая О? Война as they call it things are looking up - I think there might be a bigger prurpose in all this....
In any case, all is well with me: the only thing I wish is if it was a bit warmer...but since they just dropped the bomb on us that this city only gets about 60 sunny days per year, the chances of that are slim...oh well part of the whole expereince...


  1. BTW first two pics are from saturday night - how many people there were and a river view at like 1:30 am...the last is me on my first day of school!

  2. Hi Melissa, Sounds like things are starting to look up, except for your transportation problem. It's exciting to know that you are at places that we have been to. It's nice to know that you and your babooshka are starting to get along. Let's hope it keeps up. Love you, Ds. Bill & Ts. Barbara

  3. Mullets, babooshkas, and spiked heels oh my! Our Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore! I have thoroughly enjoyed living vicariously through your blog. In case you are wondering the boys are still boogying down and supremely fascinated with fans. Not much change here. Had a wonderful breakfast with your mom yesterday. But enough of that. I love that you are taking this adventure all in stride. Take time to learn through the frustrations and absorb the nuances of the city. And please keep a watch out for the most fabulous mullet. I expect a thorough thesis when you get back! Take care and know that we continue to pray that God keep His protective bubble over you even no matter which metro you have to push your way into. Love ya! Suzanne Kornoff

  4. Dear Marusya, It's Ts. Dausha here. I can't even begin to tell you how breathtaking it was to see the picture of you in front of the Smolny Convent. Just yesterday I was looking online for this place and saw a similar picture. It was beautiful in its own right. But today I look online at your blog and lo and behold there you are in front!! If a picture of you in front of this historical and beautiful place can still my heart, I can only imagine what you must feel everyday to enter upon its doors and have some "russian school". We're glad to hear that things are improving with all your situations. I won't mention that today it's 78* right now and blue skies...but hey who cares you're in St. Petersburg...! We continue to pray for God's watchful eye over you - Psalm 33:18-22. May you continue having a safe and fun time. When do you sleep if you are out enjoying the "white nights"??? We miss you but are enjoying living out the adventure through you! Love you! Ts. Dausha

  5. Well, look who's in St. Petersburg? No really, now we can; thanks for posting pictures! Good to see you!

    I am amazed that you went to the Hermitage! What were some of the works of art that you enjoyed from the collection? (I'm sure you'll have more to say about it another time, since you'll probably be going back with your СПбГУ.)

    Do many of the buildings have the kind of decoration seen in the picture of you at the college, i.e. the pastel colored walls and white trim on everything else?

    May God bless you with wisdom if there are any opportunities to be a witness of Christ, including toward your бабушка. Maybe she'll be able to smile someday despite the norm of frowns you saw on the streets.

  6. Hey Melissa, both your mom and my mom sent me this blog info today. It's been intriguing reading about it. Almost makes me want to join your adventure . . . but not possible. Instead I get to visit your parents this weekend. We'll miss seeing you there. Nick has go-bike stuff to share with you or even ride when you get back.

    Of course I might be the only one envious of your cooler weather. I'll trade you the summer heat for cool temps and lots of daylight. Just think of all the times you froze sleeping in my room as basic training for the cool temps you have now.

    Sounds like you are really learning and growing from this experience. We will keep you in our prayers. Love, Catherine and Nick