Thursday, September 14, 2006

Okay, I think I've gotten everything pretty much sorted out. I still haven't made it to the Regional Studies course, but I have gotten confirmation that it really does exist, and the time I now have written down is correct. So next week, next week.
I'm also now taking a class in decorative and applied arts of Siberia. It should be interesting, I guess. I'm not sure I'll get credit for it though.
That's the thing - I know what I'm doing and everything now, but I don't know how things are going to go with tranfering the credit. Only two of my pre-approved courses are actually happening. Hmmm, I think I need to talk to someone in OIE or the A&H office back home.
On a happier note, I think I'm going to go to the lake this weekend (THE lake - as in Lake Baikal, which holds 20% of the world's fresh water). It's still up in the air (waiting on others to get their stuff together), but I definitely want to get out of the city for a few days - and see the lake before the winter really sets in.
Also, I need some advice. I'm trying to find a way to visit friends in China. The problem is, the nearest consulate is in Ulan-Baatar (Mongolia), which is 36 hours away by train. I don't need a Mongolian visa, but it will take me at least a day or two to get a Chinese visa there, then another day and a half to Beijing. I can fly back to Irkutsk from there for about $175, but I'm wandering if it's worth the time and money. I mean, as long as I am this far from home, might as well go a bit further. What's one more country? And any other chance I get to go to China will be much more expensive. Also, I'll have to miss about a week of classes (I think - we might have a few days off though). What do yall think - is it worth it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This can't really be my 100th post! Can it?!

Wow, now it really seems like I've been gone for a long time. But it's true - 100 blog-posts down, who knows how many to go.
I am officially changing Irkutsk's classification in my book-o-cities. I shall henceforth refer to it as a "thriving metropolis." Why? A number of reasons.
1) I heard a statistic yesterday that said there are 50 car wrecks every day in Irkutsk - which only has a population of 60,000. I believe it, too. Especially since I have now seen what it's like going home during rush hour. What normally takes me 10 minutes took an hour. The marshrutka (mini-bus - sort of like a taxi but for about 15 people) lines are outrageous.
2) Yesterday's visit from the American Ambassador. That was just too cool. If he can handle it, so can you.
3) Subway. No, there is no underground mass-transit as yet (I think that's still a long way off). But, joy-of-joys, I found a Subway restaurant - IN IRKUTSK!!! Of all the stupid American chains to be in the middle of Siberia, I'm glad it's a place where I can "eat fresh." Speaking of which, I haven't eaten all day and that sounds ridiculously good.
I'll tell all about my new schedule and stuff later. Food is far more important (don't you agree, Chris?).

"Tomorrow will probably be better than the day after..."

(That's how Mr. Ambassador described a Russian optimist by the way) When I walked into class this morning, I had a message from Adam (one of the other Americans) - "The Ambassador is going to be here this afternoon - want to come to the meeting?"
Apparently, the American Ambassador to Russia is visiting Irkutsk this week and decided to stop by the university for a little chat with the American Studies students. The faculty decided it would be cool to invite the few American students as well.
He was a pretty cool guy. After a little intro to himself and his work, he turned to floor over to us for questions and comments. I kind of wish the group had been a bit smaller, but you can't have everything in life, can you? Cindy is actually going to be working in his office next month (super-cool internship), so she'll get to see him again.
Other than that, it's been a pretty good 24 hours. After dinner last night, I had a surprise visit from Natalya Alexandrovna (the dean) and a few other ladies. They were apparently inspecting the dormitories, since ours are the nice new ones and they want to keep them that way. My bed was made, my dishes were done, and my side of the room was all nice and organized. I can't say the same for Lies' side or for the neighbors' room and dishes. It felt good for someone to comfirm my suspicions that I'm living with a complete slob. Unfortunately, Lies wasn't there to get a lecture from the dean. All that happened was I was told to tell her to clean up. But how does one go about telling someone that they're dirty? I mean, I hardly know the girl. Yes, her messiness is annoying me, but I think it might be crossing the line for me to tell her to clean her room. Honestly, back home I don't usually make my bed. But no one sees my room on a regular basis - it doesn't double as a common area. I feel like it's just plain courtesy to clean up after yourself when you're living that close to someone else - especially if you don't know that person very well.
And the refridgerator smells of dead fish. Grrr.
Okay, that may have sounded rantish too, but believe me, it's been a good day.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I get it!!! (Finally)

Considering the days I have been having lately, today was pretty awesome. I understood (almost) everything in both my lessons this morning - very unusual for me. I even felt smart there for a few minutes. Until I tried to have a conversation with the teacher after class - that's when things went downhill. But I'm not letting that make me feel bad. I think understanding the lesson was an achievement on it's own at this point.
Also, I solved the mystery of the missing class this afternoon (at least I think I did). It turns out they changed the day and time to Wednesday at 2 pm. Who knew? Not me. This rocks - now I have a full weekend again! No more stupid Saturday classes. If only my Monday lessons started a little later than 8 am...
My roommate is driving me a bit bananas right now. She's not nearly as bad as the infamous Katya, but I'm still having some issues. Maybe it's just getting used to living in the same room with somebody again, but I doubt it. Some of the hostels I stayed at this summer had around 20 people living in each room and I was alright. I think our personalities just don't mesh. She just won't leave me alone. Not only do I see her every morning and night, but she is in all my lessons (at the moment anyway) and followed me everywhere this weekend. I want some time to myself sometimes, dammit! And that whole not-bathing thing better change real quick, before I start to smell too. There are a couple more girls heading here tomorrow who are from the same city in Belgium, so maybe she can find another friend to latch on to. Maybe I'm being insensitive and unreasonable - maybe it'll get better in that department. In any case, it feels good to vent. Today was good and that's enough for me.
I think Aaron's having movie night tonight, which means I have to be there (I'm the only one with a computer/DVD player). Isn't that a shame. :-D
До завтра!