I have a lot of things that I've been wanting to write about this week, but haven't been able to make it down to the internet cafe to get them posted. So I'm just gonna start typing all the random thoughts into one big entry, and see where that takes me...
Let's start with the weather. It's been one strange week. No wind + lots of sunshine = warm temperature. I'm talking very close to zero. I think right now it's about -2C out there. Not too bad for Siberia. It's been very nice walking around and enjoying my last two weeks in the city. I even managed to find a good pair of pants in the Chinese market (which is open air, even in winter) thanks to the heat wave we're having. Of course, next week is probably gonna suck as far as the weather is concerned - apparently it's supposed to get down to -30 sometime in the next few days. Crap.
Speaking of things getting worse, I'm really starting to get stressed about the academic part of the end of my stay here. I can't seem to get in touch with anyone in the Office of International Education, to find out some stuff I need for my transcript. I have no idea what's going one or what I have to do. And I somehow have to pass these exams. I think I might be more screwed than I thought. But hey - at least I'm not cold anymore.
I saw something kind of random today that made me think of a few people back home. Well, sort of back home - what it really made me think of was my trip to St. Louis last December. I was in a cafe today waiting in line when I saw a sign that said, "New menu item - fried ravioli." Mmmm - tasty. The only other place I've ever seen this was in St. Louis. When Chris and I arrived at his parents house, we were treated to some pizza and fried ravioli. Oh man. I miss my friends.
Holiday shopping on a Saturday in Irkutsk is just as maddening as in the US. I almost just want to start screaming at all the pushy people running around looking for presents for others. This is one of this things I hate about Christmas (or as is the case here, New Years). Will things always be so commercial this time of year?
But that's not all I'm up to today. Yesterday I went back to the high school to talk to the English students again, and was invited by a bunch of the girls to go ice skating tonight. At an outdoor skating rink. This is either going to be really fun (if the weather doesn't change on me) or completely miserable. Either way, it's something that I haven't done yet. Cross one more item off the list of things I need to do before I leave Siberia.
Another item on that same list - go to a hockey game. I'm taking care of that one too this weekend. There's a big tournament in town this weekend, and a bunch of us got tickets to the Russia-Sweden game for Sunday. The only downside - it too is outdoors. I think I'm going to have to resort to the Russian method to keep warm this time - large quantities of vodka.
I still want to try to go to Baikal one more time before I leave. I want to see it at least partially covered with ice. I just don't know when I'm going to be able to - I've so much to do now to wrap things up. It's almost like being back at home - something to do every hour of every day.
Sigh. I guess that just means that I'm gonna have to come back sometime soon...
Oh, and a little comment about the news. I should have become an astronaut instead of a bookworm. I REALLY want to go hang out on the moon colony - if it ever really does get built. Exciting times.
Anyway, I think that's enough jibberjabber for now. Lots of things to do and see today...