Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Feoder is my new hero

I realize in retrospect that my last few posts have been rather harsh in respect to Katya my *couch* Russian roommate. To prove that I have managed to make some friends here, I would like to present Feoder as one of the coolest people on the planet.
Most of the friends I've made here have been fellow foreigners living in the dorms - French, Dutch, Swiss, Italian..., the list goes on and on. This is due mostly to the fact that a lot of the Russian students have gone home for the summer and I therefore have had more contact with others staying for the summer programs, which are mostly language studies. Feoder was one of my neighbors when I was living on the 9th floor (he lives with Charles, the guy from Paris). He is one of the few Russians left in the building because he has a job here in town.
Why, you may ask, is Feoder my new hero? Well, unlike Katya, he is someone who actually does what he says he is going to do, and even goes out of his way to help poor little foreigners like myself. I have been trying for the past week to buy a train ticket to Moscow without much luck, because the train company doesn't seem to find it necessary to hire bilingual people to work at the ticket booths (not only do they only speak Russian, but they are all quite rude and even insulted me when I tried to buy a ticket in the Russian that I do know). I asked Katya to go to the train station with me at her convenience, but she was too tired (not too tired to go out and party or too tired to keep me up until all hours of the morning on a school night by watching MTV, just too tired to help me do something for a change). It suddenly clicked that Feoder might be willing to help. He said yes immediately, and even left work early today to go to the ticket office with me. And got me a cheaper ticket that what I was expecting. Once again I need to quote Terri Hendrix - "Say what you're gonna do, and do what you say." Feoder, you win the prize for the coolest Russian alive. Katya - try harder next time.
The other cool thing about Feoder - every anecdote begins with "When I was in the army - the RUSSIAN army, you know...." Here you have to imagine a thick Russian accent and a bottle of beer in hand.
Neighbors rock.
Now I have to head back to the dorms. The first in a long line of going away parties is about to begin.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The days just seem to move quicker as my departure from St. Petersburg approaches. Not only to I want to see as much of the city as possible before I go, but I also have so much stuff to do. I just bought my train ticket to Irkutsk, but I still have to buy my ticket to Moscow (which is actually proving to be MORE difficult - go figure) and a bus ticket to Helsinki and back. I did find someone to let me store my big bag when I go Helsinki and Amsterdam, so I don't have to cart everything around with me. I have to keep reminding myself not to stress out over everything.
I'm starting to get a bit nervous about my classes in Irkutsk. Apparently there's only one other American guy that I know of in the program. Hmmm. It would help if I were fluent in Russian, but I'm an decidedly not. I think it will be alright though. Only one of my classes is with a bunch of Russian students - the languages classes will be easy and the Siberian Studies track will be one-on-one, so I'll be able to stop the intructor when I'm not understanding. I have a feeling though that my Russian is going to get a lot better very soon. It has to. Otherwise I'm screwed.
Of course, there's always the random British guy that I met who is living there, so I'm not to worried about finding my way around the city. As he put it, it's always nice to have someone that you can speak to in rapid English.
As much as I'm dreading leaving here there are a few things I won't miss. Number one on that list - Katya. Lindsey and I are at full-out war with her. We both had to get up early yesterday (Saturday) morning, yet Katya kept us up until 4:30 with her full-volumn MTV watching and phone conversations. So when we got up at 8, we turned the TV AND the radio on to wake her up too. It was fabulous. If were weren't so damn passive aggressive there would have been a major cat-fight at that point.
Now I have to run - I need to make another trip to the train station to once again attempt to buy a train ticket to Moscow.