Hope everyone is doing well, both back home in America and anywhere else you all might happen to be. I have just completed my first week in Russia and it's been a trip so far, let me tell you what.
I arrived Here in good old Yakutsk last Saturday morning at about 11 am. The trip over was pretty unsuccessful except for some slight freak outage in the Moscow airport (try getting my bags searched twice, having to pay overage charges, and only having two hours to get there get my stuff, get through security and get on the plane.)
I was a little overwhelmed when I first got here. I kept thinking "What am I doing? Why did I come to this country? Why am I in this city? Ten months!?!? I must be crazy!" Sleep helped though. I went to bed about 2pm and woke up Sunday morning at about 6. Sunday morning my host mom, Raisa, took me on a tour of the city. She showed me some of the main features of the city and we bought me some school supplies. When we got done with our little tour we went and got the car, picked up my host grandparents and drove them out to the Dacha. I was expecting the dacha to be a house on an isolated piece of Siberian wilderness. In all actuality it's a group of buildings surrounded by a wall, surrounded by all these other dachi (Pl. of dacha), It rather reminded me of a campground only with permanent buildings.
We came back and I met Natasha. She is the good friend of my host sister who's in America. We took a walk around the city, hung out at a cafe, and went and saw a movie. It was an interesting time.
I started school on monday. The first day I only went to two classes because I had to get registered with the city. I have school Monday through Saturday from about 8am to about 1:30 pm. I usually have about four classes a day. What I have everyday changes, and as far as I know doesn't stay the same from week to week either. You have to look at a schedule that is posted everyday to find out what classes you have the next day, and therefore, what books to bring to school. At the moment, I dislike school. Mostly because I have to concentrate to understand stuff, and even then I don't usually get a lot out of the lessons. It makes me tired.
If you've read my blog, you know how I feel about the food here. Honestly, most everything I eat I like. There have been some random things that I've eaten, but like I said, it's good. My favorite thing is Borcht. It's so greasy and so good. I drink chai (tea) with almost every meal. In the states I would usually drink it with sugar, but here I drink it plain. I suppose you could say black, but since not all the tea I drink is black tea, I'm not sure if that applies.
I've noticed a lot of things here. Sometimes I notice them and forget to write them in my paper journal and I'll remember them later, and forget to write it down again. It's rather frustrating.
I'm really allergic to the mosquitos here. I know that sounds random, but it's the truth. There aren't a ton of them, but I have been bitten several times and the skin around it swells up really bad, worse than in America. Don't know why, but it does.
I've been practicing my "russian face" This is the very serious face I put on when I'm walking down the street. Russians smile when they're around friends, but they don't randomly smile at people in the street.
Lines exist as either clumps of people, or when there's an actual line, I've seen people get out of line to go check on something, or have a smoke, and when they come back, they take up their old spot. My guess is that this dates back to soviet times when people had to stand in long lines to get goods.
I forgot to mention this in my introductory e-mail. I don't have a laptop here, but I do have a card reader. This means that I plug the reader into the computer, pop in my memory card with all my pictures, and bam, I upload them to the internet. Isn't technology great? All the pictures I upload can be found at one location. Flickr. I encourage you all to go check them out. I upload whenever I have some interesting pictures, and whenever I feel like it. You can find my photo collection at
The following are questions people have asked. If you have a question about my life here, or just in general, e-mail it and I'll answer it and put the question and answer in my next newsletter.
Q.Are the random bright colors on the buildings/playground typical of the city?
A. Yes. a lot of the buildings in the city are painted interesting colors. The outside of my school is yellow, the post office is bright blue. A lot of the buildings are pink, or blue, or other random colors.
Q.Are you cold?
A. Yeah, sometimes. The average temperature here during the day has been in the high forties, low fifties farenhight. That's pretty chilly. Cold enough that I wear a jacket.
Q. What time is it there?
A. Actually this question usually comes up when I'm talking with people online, but I thought it's a good question. Yakutsk it fourteen hours ahead of Ohio. (sorry for all of you inbounds who are in other countries, if you want to know you'll have to figure it out.) Basically, when you guys are getting ready for bed, it's early afternoon of the next day for me. When I'm getting ready for bed, you guys are saying good morning to the day I just finished. It's a little weird to think about isn't it?
Q. What is a univermag?
A. A univermag as far as I can tell is like a supermarket. They basically have just about anything you might want. The word Univermag comes from the russian words for Universal, and store.
Let's just say that I can't carry on any philosopical discussions. I am able to make myself somewhat understood. I get by. Some phrases that I use often, I can say fairly quickly. If I'm put on the spot, and have to speak randomly without thinking about it first, I speak horribly. I speak horribly anyway but if I don't have a chance to think about it, I completely butcher what I'm trying to say. If I have a chance to think about what I'm going to say, I can usually say it fairly quickly. I mess up case, verb endings, and pronunciation. A lot.
What I Miss
Not that anyone really cares, just thought you might be interested to hear what I miss about the states.
-macaroni and cheese
-being the right temperature
-being stupid with my friends
Now don't think you have to box up and send macaroni and cheese or anything. Honestly I'm hoping to find something similar to it at the univermag.
The City's Birthday
This weekend was the city's 375th birthday. Needless to say there were lots of events going on. Concerts, people in traditional clothing, native dances, singing, and last night there were fireworks. It was a pretty interesting time. What I saw of it, I enjoyed.
Shout Outs and Closing
Well that about wraps it up, just wanted to give a few quick shout outs.
Mom: Sorry haven't written back, Raisa was trying to figure out the fax machine, I'll talk to her about it again tonight.
Aleta: Hey devushka! I miss you! hope your senior year is going well! I'm doing alright here, haven't met the Russian of my dreams yet though. lol
Dad: loved your comments on my pictures, esp. The one about the squirrel burgur. Mostly because 375 rubles is about fifteen dollars. it cracked me up.
Kara: Love ya babe, remeber who's number one and keep hanging in there!
Benjamin: Mom told me about Thanksgiving. Very very cool! Sorry I'm gonna miss it.
Church Brothers and Sisters: I miss you guys so much. Please continue to pray for me.
Alliance Rotary Club: I haven't started working on the business cards yet, but I will as soon as I learn the language a little better.
Okay, thanks for bearing with that if you weren't on my shout-outs list. Anyway, I encourage all of you to check out my photos at the link above, and my blog at the link below. Like I mentioned in my first e-mail, I update my blog more than I send out e-mails so you often get juicy news and details on there. for those of you who don't feel like scrolling all the way down my blog is located at
Once again, I love hearing from all of you guys, so please feel free to drop me a line at this e-mail address or leave a comment on my blog. Even if it's just to say hi, I'll read it, and probably reply.
Okay, I'm seriously done now.
Paka for now!
Якутск, Республика Саха (Якутия) Россия
Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Yakutia) Russia