Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hannah and the furry hat

That's right, the biggest news in my life this week is my latest purchase - a nice warm furry hat (well, fur lined anyway), complete with earflaps, to keep my ears from falling off this winter. The weather's not getting any warmer; I have no illusions in that department. But it's not entirely uncomfortable. As long as I'm bundled up just right I'm fine. The only that has been bothering my was my ears - and that's not a problem anymore. And hot chocolate does wonders for a cold body.
I also managed to follow up my success in the kitchen (taco meat from scratch) with an even better creation - a big pot of Texas-style chili. I even managed to find some chili powder (though it wasn't easy - not even Misha the spice man had any in the market). I think I'm going to have to repeat that creation this Friday for the big birthday bash. If I have to celebrate my 21st birthday in a foreign land, might as well have a little bit of home around for the occasion (though I don't think I'm going go so far as to purchase the bottle of Sauza I saw at the market the other day - they wanted 1000 rubles/40 dollars for it!).
I can't remember if I mentioned it or not, but I found the phantom class. And it sucks - one of the worst classes I've ever had to sit through. And that's in addition to it being on Saturday, which ruins all of my weekend plans for the next two months. I think what makes it so aweful is the fact that I don't understand a damn thing that's going on. It's not what I was led to believe it would be. I'm hear to study Russia - its culture and people, how people live and have fun. I'm not interested in learning economic theories - especially not in Russian. And what's even worse is it's not taught for foreign students but for the local Russian students - which means the instructor talks at about a million words a minute and it's impossible for me to take notes. We had a quiz yesterday, and I had to turn it in blank, with an explaination that I had no idea what I was supposed to write or even where to begin looking. I think the odds of me surviving this course are pretty slim. I hope Natalya Alexandrovna will help me get out of this mess. The class were her idea to begin with.
Okay, enough ranting. I'm going to go get some blini. Mmmm. I can taste them already. Then I'm going to snuggle up with my Harry Potter book (in Russian) and enjoy my day of rest - before all hell breaks loose once again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adventures in Russian Healthcare

I knew from the beginning of my trip that at some point I would have to go to a Russian clinic. It's not that I'm that pessimistic - I just knew that I would have to submit an HIV test to the university during registration and they won't accept it if it's more than 3 months old (which my American one is). SOOO, I finally racked up my courage last week to head down to the State Poliklinika to get the test done. I figured I would need a couple of hours, but I didn't expect it too take as long as it did. I took Adam with me, for language support and because he needed one too. But try as we did, we could not find anyone who was interested in helping us. It can't be that hard - stick a need in, pull some blood out, send it to the lab. But NOOOOOO. We had to go back today to try again. But this time we used our heads - we had Adam's host lady meet us there and help us talk to the angry nurses. She doesn't speak English but she is a lot more friendly about our inability to understand complicated instructions like, "Go from this room, where you'll pay, to this room where you'll get your paper work, to this room where you'll have blood drawn, to this room to drop off said blood." It all worked out in the end - now all I have to do is go back next Wednesday to pick up my "I'm healthy" form.
As I sat in the hallway, cottenball pressed to the inside of my elbow, I couldn't help but be amazed at how old fashioned the poliklinika is. First off all, it appears as if the building has not been renovated in about 60 years. I'm not just talking about paint. The chairs, the slop-jars (old-school bio-hazard containers), the signs - everything looked like it was out of a movie. The best part was the level of technology. Not only were there no computers at all, in the entire building, but they didn't even have calculators. What did they use instead? Drumroll .............. An ABACUS!!! Kind of scary really, when you think about it. If anything happens to me while I'm here, I'm at the mercy of this place, and the really mean nurses.
But as long as they give me the paper I need to make myself legal, it's all good.
Then I can go about tackling the even larger problem of getting a Chinese visa...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Whoever it was calling me at 3:45 this morning, please don't do it again. I love talking to people from home, but I like to sleep too.
On a happier note, I found the coolest sentence on the planet on wikipedia today - "Unlike English, Latin, and various other languages, Russian allows multiple negatives, as in никто никогда никому ничего не прощает "No-one ever forgives anything to anyone" (literally, "no-one never to no-one nothing not forgives")."