Friday, July 21, 2006

I finally found it...

That's right - I found a rountine. It's not terribly exciting, but it's nice to be back on a regular schedule for a change. Here is a brief outline of a day in the life of me...
7:30 - My alarm goes off.
8ish - I finally get out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed.
8:45ish - I catch the bus to school (as long as I get on by 9 I won't be late).
9:30 - 12:40 - Russian class at SPbGU. Mondays and Wednesdays are conversation, Tuesdays are reading, and Thursdays and Fridays are grammar. This means that by Friday (TODAY!) I'm ready for a break.
13:00ish - lunch somewhere. There's a cafeteria place down on Nevskiy Prospeckt that's pretty cheap and very tasty. And it's got the best name in the world - "Freakadelphi" Hehehe.
At this point I usually find someway to pass a few hours. My American roommate practices her viola until about 4 each afternoon, and while she is very good and it's nice to listen to, I like to leave her alone while she practices. I know how self-conscious I am when someone is listening to me play.
16:00ish - I catch the minibus back home* (A brief word on minibuses - to solve the problem of mobilizing a large population without too many overcrowded regular sized buses, the powers that be in St. Petersburg decided to have a fleet of "minibuses" - they're somewhere between taxis and buses. You can flag them down just about anywhere and they only stop when someone asks to get off. This means they get you where you're going very quickly. Of course, it also means that a ride in one of these fast moving vans can be one of the scariest experiences of your life, as the driver weaves in and out of rush hour traffic. Still, I prefer the 25 min ride on the minibus to the hour and a half ride on the regular bus in the afternoon).
Watch some tv, hang out with roomies and neighbors, and maybe do my homework (if I happen to understand what the assignment is for the day).
Midnightish - "Spakoinnye Noche"
Then it all begins again.
Of course, the weekends are a different matter - who knows what will happen then. The only plan I have for this weekend is a trip to the sushi restaurant at 6 this evening. Where I go from there, there's no telling.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oh, I almost forgot...

I almost forgot to mention the coolest thing about this weekend - THE RETURN OF HOT WATER!!! I feel so fresh.
And by the way, I figured out how to call my cell phone from skype (I knew there was a way). Normally when calling Russia from ouside the country, you must use 8 as the country code. But if you lucky devils with skype are trying to reach me on my cell, you must enter the domestic country code - therefore making my phone number +79500035886 (if you are having trouble getting in touch with me using the +89500035886, maybe this will solve the problem). Crazy if you think about it - why have two country codes? Just to confuse us foreigners I guess. Because I finally figured this out (drumroll please) that means I was able to set up the call forwarding thingy on my SkypeOut account - which means for those of you unfortunate souls who don't have skype (or don't care), all you have to do to reach me is call 254-230-1818 (my skypeIn number) and it most likely won't cost you a dime.
Also, on a slightly more random note, I found a British couchsurfer living in Irkutsk - yay for random searches on random networks. Now I have someone who speaks English to show me around when I get to Siberia (btw, thanks to Inez for reminding me to join CS).

Monday, July 17, 2006

A thoroughly uneventful weekend...

I survived! Leaders from the world's major powers were all here this weekend, and it didn't even inconvenience me! That could be because I didn't do much - I only really left the dorm to check my email/chat with my buddies. I'm glad nothing happened. The special forces militia was making me nervous last week.
Anyway, I guess I should fill yall in with what did happen this weekend. Thursday was my last day with the guys from RISD (that's the Rhode Island School of Design, not Richardson Independent School District :-D). We had a nice little going away dinner - we rented out half of a little cafe and the staff of the youth center met us there. They even got their hands on some bottled wine (the shortage is starting to wane as they've finally released the new import stickers). We had every imaginable Russian dish heaped upon our table, and at the end of the meal the waiters brought out two MOUNTAINS (I'm being completely serious here) of ice cream. It was every little kid's fantasy come true. Aahh, so good.
After dinner, the youth center people and Elena said goodbye and went home, and I was left with my classmates to have a real goodbye. Elena arranged for me to have a cot in their dorm so that I wouldn't have to sleep on the floor again (good thinking, Elena - she knew perfectly well that I would want to hang out as much as possible with my buddies for their last night in Russia). After some debating we decided to hang out at the beach by the Peter and Paul Fortress. Unfortunately, after we bought our midnight picnic supplies and walked all the way over to Hare Island, the bridge was closed. This was especially odd since none of the bridges were going to raise this weekend (the ports are all closed for the summit, making the nightly bridge-raisings rather pointless). We decided to just have a seat on the embankment instead, and spent a good hour just talking and lamenting the fact that they would be leaving in the morning. Quite early in the morning, in fact. At that point, two of the girls decided to go back to the dorm to get some sleep. The rest of us, convinced that we were invincible and struck by the novelty of the fact that the bridges, for once, would not keep us from getting home at a somewhat reasonable hour (meaning before dawn) we set out for one last trip to the center of town.
It was a glorious end to the program in my book. I just hope that I get to visit some of them soon. I think I roadtrip to New England is in order for next spring.
I woke up early with the group on Friday and saw them off, then went back to my dorm and slept until late in the day. What else was I going to do? I wanted to stay as far from the center of town as possible. I went out to dinner with Lindsay (the American roommate) and a couple of our Polish friends from the dorm, who were leaving on Saturday. Other than I just sat and read more most of the evening. Saturday wasn't much different - though in the evening I went to the "beach" near my place with Lindsay and two of our neighbors - Charles, from Paris, and Stephan, from Switzerland (the German-speaking part). I put beach in quotations because it's more of a used-asphault dumping ground. But the sunset was very pretty (yes, we were out there that late), and a storm was coming in, so it was really cool and windy.
Yesterday was another lazy day. I went to a few DVD shops and ate lunch at some cafe, but didn't really do anything of any great importance. I talked to Liam and heard his tales of adventure from Mumbai (if you are one of our mutual friends, you need to read his blog).
Today I had my last class with Elena Romanovna, as I go back to group sessions starting 9.30. It's going to be hard to get up. But then I didn't get much sleep last night (I have a bit of a cold), so maybe I'll get to bed early tonight. We'll see.
Hannah - out (for now, anyway).