Friday, November 30, 2007

The Haircut: Another First-Person Narrative in the Third Person

She was terrified, and that was putting it into simple terms. From the moment her friend had told her "Sorry, I can't come with you" Her day had been shot and the terror had clutched at her stomach, not letting go for anything. Her heart had begun to pound at the slightest thought of what she was going to have to do. Completely on her own. Sure, her friend had told her what to say, even shown her where to go, but she was still terrified. At least she'd been able to expresses that thought in her host country's languge.

"I'm scared," she had said, and then tried to worm her way out of it. She was short on money, couldn't they reschedule? Alas, no. The appointment had been made a week ago, and couldn't be backed out of. And so she tried to deal with it, tried to tell herself that "vso budet horosho, everything's gonna be all right"

She was telling herself that now even as she was praying that the bus ride would last forever. Normally, when she rode the bus it was a pleasant ride, one that took quite a while. Not today. She'd heard stories of convicts taking that "last long walk" She had a feeling though that it wasn't nearly as long as people were lead to believe.

Even as these thoughts were going through her head, the bus pulled up to her stop, and she found her feet hitting the snow-covered pavement. Oh she really didn't want to do this, but at the same time was resigned to it. She needed to use her still budding language skills. But what if they didn't understand? What if something went wrong? She didn't have anyone to step in and make it all okay. She had to rely completely on herself.

She started the short walk to her destination, noticing as she went that there were New Year's lights on several buildings, shining beautifully in the darkness. She noticed them, but in an abstract way, her mind was still rather pre-occupied.

She glanced at her cell. 20 after four. She was going to be there early. Crud. Yet she also knew there was no way she would've been able to sit in that apartment another ten minutes. She'd kept getting more and more nervous the closer 4 o'clock came. No chance she would've been able to sit any longer.

She was halfway there, when her nose went numb. She put a hand over that part of her face and wondered for a moment whether or not it hearalded some forthcoming doom, because surely when your nose goes numb it's not a good thing.

Just as she feared, she arrived early. 4:30 on the dot. She went inside the building and debated for a moment on what to do, She spent the moments of indicision staring into a glass case filled with really expensive shampoo. She then gritted her teeth, and her resolve and turned toward the woman behind the counter.

"Did you want something?" The woman asked. Before she could loose her resolve, she blurted out, "no, but I have an appointment at 5"
"And the name?"
She gave the name and the woman behind the counter's countenance softened. "Alright, follow me please"
She swallowed down the lump of fear in her throat and did as the woman said. The worst was over now, right?
vso budet horosho...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


yes, you read that right. I'm actually slightly stressed because of the things I have to do here, and you know what, it's kind of a good feeling.

With that said, I don't know how much I'll be updating the blog for a bit. I've got some college scholarship stuff to do, as well as my usual lessons and things, plus I have some other meetings and what not. On top of that, I just haven't really felt like updating my blog and so I thought I would tell you all so you don't waste time always checking. No, I'm not stopping the blog, I may post about the same, or I may not post at all for a couple of weeks, it's just I keep a paper journal too, and like I said, I haven't really felt like updating this a whole ton recently, so if I disappear for a bit, have no worries, I haven't been eaten by a reindeer, I'm just busy.

The dean of the Foreign language department at the Teaching College asked me to teach an English class once a week, I was like "I'd like too, but I'm not sure if I have time" So that's cool.

I'm still trying to work out if I can pull off this trip to china.
Other than that, nothing really exciting here except that the biggest holiday of the year, New year's is coming up so everyone seems to be excited about that.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving and the Aftermath

So, we had Thanksgiving. I had some friends over. Nina, Vika, Natasha K. and Irina, one of the teachers whose classes I've spoken too. We were going to have chicken but Nina brought a turkey her mom had made special for us, which was uber nice and very tasty. Everyone came at six and we ate, and talked and so on and so forth until Irina suddenly looked at her watch and it was 9:30 already! It was an awesome awesome time and we even had a ton of leftovers like we would've at home.

I was scheduled to call the family on Friday morning my time. Thursday night I was like a little kid at christmas, had trouble falling asleep, and woke up several times during the night to check the time and make sure I hadn't overslept.

I called, and briefly talked to everyone, which was spiffy. I cried on the phone because it was so good to hear everyone's voice. The strange thing was when I got off the phone I was still crying a bit and then I had the oddest thought. I realized that I didn't really miss them. I mean, I do miss my family, but it was like the feeling of missing them that I've been carrying around for almost three months was gone and the absence of it was startling. Perhaps I've gotten over the worst of the homesickness.

The next day, I skipped school. I went to talk to another one of Kunai's classes and by the time I got done, school had let out for the day because they'd had an open literature lesson. After I finished at the university I went home, hung out and then went a little after two to the Akademia to meet my new Russian tutor. Anna Nicholaevna, my old tutor is writing her Doctorate paper and can no longer Tutor me. My new tutor is named Lena.

In the evening, I was scheduled to go back to the university because they were having a competition between the english students in the different departments. I was on the jury. Basically, there were ten skits we had to watch and judge. Some were better than others. The unanimus descision was that the students from the med institue were the winners.

Today, I went with Irina to a village about two hours away from the city. It's called Nentsi. I was scheduled to speak to a group of high schoolers. The presentation went well, and I had a good time, I enjoyed the trip, but I was really tired afterwards.

Lately I've found myself getting more irritable about stuff and I don't know why. There's little things here that bother me sometimes, I suppose it's all just part of the exchange and I have to deal with it.

Probably the most exciting thing of all that I found out about is a trip the Inbounds can go on in December. To China. How cool would that be? I'm really hoping I'll be able to go!

Oh by the way, I've updated my pictures with some stuff from Vika's birthday party, Thanksgiving, today, and some random pics of the city. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Title, A title, my Kingdom for a Title...

Okay, I'm trying not to be cynical or sarcastic, so don't take this the wrong way. But it just cracks me up every time I read about exchange students being excited about snow in their host countries. I've seen posts about snow on several of the numerous blogs I follow, when I get a chance. It makes me laugh because if you all remember we had our first snow here on October 3rd. I guess because snow is so much a part of the landscape here, I don't thinking of it as a novelty anymore.

Speaking of Snow, I forgot to mention that we got my oonti. Oonti are boots with thick soles (I had to get used to them being heavier than my other boots). And fur, and they're about the coolest thing ever. I have a picture of them that I'll have to post. Anyway, we got them made special because of my larger shoe size. The company is called Sakhabult and they specialize in all things fur. If the thought of helpless little animals being slaughtered to make coats, hats, gloves, and boots bothers you, then don't come to Russia. And when it gets cold wherever you are in the world, just remember that where I am it's colder and the slaughter of those animals is keeping me from losing toes.

Okay, now to turn off the sarcast-o-meter. It's just that I really don't want to be on the computer right now. I'm being entirely seriously. I'd much rather be sitting with the little kid in the next room, pretending to read my history while actually watching treasure planet. heh. But I am "Abigail the technical guru" and so I'm here at the computer.

Last October when I finally got my Rotary application turned in, I was so happy because I thought that I would never ever have to fill out another Rotary application again. Unfortunately my "Techno-guru" title has me filling out another one. Don't worry, I'm not filling it completely out from scratch, see next year's potential outbound did the application but did it by hand. We told her where the website to download the application was but when she downloaded it, it didn't work. My guess is because she doesn't have Acrobat Reader on her computer. This means that Abigail got stuck with the job of typing up a rotary applicaiton. And you all know that's exactly how I wanted to spend my evening.

Actually, I'm complaining, but it's not that bad. Raisa is a good host mom, and does a lot for me, so I don't mind doing favors for her, or the Rotary club. However, this is just kind of irritating. I'll get over it, besides it's not like I had anything else planned for the evening anyway, just reading for history, and practicing the khomus, and maybe drawing a bit, or reading my book, or writing.

As you can probably guess I'm procrastinating the filling out of the applicaton by writing a blog entry instead.

Now, on to the good news.

Yesterday we had Obshest. This class is like social studies. The kids learn about the laws and rights they have, that sort of thing. Anyway, we were talking about conflict. We had to work in pairs and make a drawing showing what conflict is, and then we had to list ways to avoid, or resolve it. I worked with my friend Nina. My job was to do the drawing, and to explain what conflict is. Know what? I did it, I got up infront of the class and explained conflict in fairly uncomplicated terms and I DID IT IN RUSSIAN!!! ha ha ha! Do you know how hard it is for me to get up and speak in front of people in Russian? I'm perfectly comfortable, and I love doing it in English, but it's hard for me to do in Russian. But I did it! I was very proud of myself.

I've decided that I love Russian. There's just some cool things about it. Yeah, the prefixes can be frustrating, but those prefixes combined with base words create new words, and it's just fascinating. One of my favorite words right now is полюбить. It's just a really cool word.

любить is the verb "to love" but when you add the prefix по the word becomes the verb "To grow accustomed to, to grow fond of, to fall in love with" How cool is that that you just add a prefix and have one word mean that. In some ways it's very convenient. And just plain cool. Another cool word is международный. I kept hearing it, but didn't quite know what it meant. I knew it meant "Between-peoples" между=between and народа is a word for People, and then today in English class of all places I found out it meant "International" and I'm like, duh! because it makes sense. Russian just does that. The words make sense. Obviously, but you know what I mean.

Raisa just got a call from the potential outbound. Apparently she figured out that you need to download Acrobat, and did it herself. Raisa told me to go ahead and finish filling this one out here so that they have an example. Urgh, but at least I don't feel bad about doing it now, yay for the potential outbound doing it herself!

Have I ever mentioned that the printer speaks German. Or maybe it's swedish or dutch. I really have no idea, but I find it odd and rather amusing.

Well, I've run out of things to say really, Just wanted to let you all know that life is moving along. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. I think I'm going too. Ooh that reminds me, I need to make a quiz for tomorrow's celebration. It should be a good time, I'm looking forward to it.

The printer just talked again. Definitely not German, definitely something Scandinavian.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just Life, I guess

So the other day, I went back to the university and listened to some English classes who I spoke to before give presentations on their dream trips and on Yakutsk. It was mind numbingly interesting and boring at the same time. The one group, you could definitely tell that they had written their presentation in Russian and then just plugged it into an online translator. some of the grammar was absolutely hilarous!

I also spoke to a group of girls who seemed to actually understand what I was saying because they laughed at some of my jokes, so that made me feel good. All in all it was an entertaining time and I got to skip a bunch of school for it, though I was really tired when I got done.

In the meantime, it's still cold here. we're still doing html in computer class (where I am right now) this keyboard is horrible so please excuse my bad typing.

I've been speaking more, but am frustrated because i can't always express what i want to say clearly, if at all, and that irritates me to no end. But I'm working on it.

The good news is that i've been making more of an effort to pay attention and participate in school. The result is that the teachers have started calling on me and assigning me homework. I never thought i would say this, but i was pretty darn excited to have homework. It took me all of yesterday evening to do it, but doggone it, i got it done, and my brain felt better afterwards.

I'm slightly bummed out about missing thanksgiving. it's always my favorite holiday even more than christmas because the whole family is always together, and we hang out all day and play games and eat a whole ton. and from what i hear the whole family is home this year except me. oh well, thanksgiving comes around every year, and I don't always get to spend time in Yakutsk, Russia so it's an okay trade. Raisa told me that if I wanted to have some friends over, she would make chicken and mashed potatos and we could have a sort of thanksgiving celebration here. so that's cool. If i don't sit there and cry. ha.

I've been trying to keep busy. Raisa and i are going to some thing at the opera tonight so i'm leaving early from art class. I have no idea what we're going to see really. (as usual)

I've discovered something. When two people are conversing with each other a lot of times i can follow and understand what they're saying really well. But the minute someone starts talking to me my understanding goes down the drain. i have trouble with monologues to. i.e. one person speaking, the news, that kind of thing. hopefully though as time passes, i'll be able to get better on that.

I'm really not paying attention though I probably should be. it's just i've done html since i was in 7th grade. and i'd much rather update my blog.

next weekend i'm going with Irina, one of the english teachers I've met to a couple of schools outside the city. i'm going to speak about america and she's going to speak about the economics part of YAGU which is the university here. It's going to be a day trip and i'm looking forward to it because 1. it gets me out of saturday school and 2. it's going to be something different, and that's exciting. any variations in routine are a good thing!

So i guess that's really it for now. i'll let you guys know how those two events go. thanksgiving and the other. i'm hoping that once i get past thursday my homesickness will decrease exponentially. i'm not really worried about the whole missing christmas thing because they have winter holidays here too. i.e. new years. And once i get passed that there's not really any other major holidays to worry about. I think thanksgiving is the hardest.

okay, i've blabbed enough.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


So since I've mentioned the people I see everyday several times, I've decided rather than do another post about how I'm going through my "I don't like it here" phase, I thought I would give you some more in depth information about the people here. What I've observed and stuff. I know you'd much rather read that than more of my craziness.

There are two kinds of people in Yakutsk. Russians, and Everyone else who is Yakutian. Most of the population is Yakutian. This means that they look Asian. I While some people look more Asian than others, they don't really look Chinese or japanese. It's more of a Monglian look. I think. I'm not really sure.

At first I really noticed that everyone had that Asian look. Honestly, Now I barely notice it. My mom asked me if there were any predjudices or anything since I look Russian. The answer is no. There are enough ethnic Russians in the city that they aren't an oddity.

There are several types of people under the category "Yakuts"

You have the people who's first language is Yakutian. These people grew up speaking Yakutian and speak it more comfortably than Russian. Though they can and do speak Russian when necesity calls for it. (Like interacting with Shopkeepers and officials) but among friends and family it's Yakutian.

Then you have the people who Know Yakutian and can speak it, but their main language is Russian. My friend Vika is like this, I found out at her birthday party. She and some of the people there spoke some Yakutian but mainly they speak Russian.

Next are the people who don't speak Yakutian but understand it. These people use Russian as their main form of communication but their family might speak Yakutian. When addressed, in Yakutian they answer back in Russian.

Finally, There's everyone else who doesn't speak Yakutian. This is basically the entire population of Ethnic Russians and myself.

Want to know something funny that's starting to happen to me here? I've learned the sound of Russian. What I mean is this: When I hear English on a TV program here, it's like my ears automatically perk up and I recognize the words, and the sounds. I've started doing that with Russian too. Occasionally there will be a program on TV in Yakutian and I'll be sitting there listening to it and not understand a word of it then they'll say something in Russian and I automatically recognize the sound and my ears perk up. It's the oddest sensation. But it's cool.

I'm trying to work on speaking more as I feel that I'm not doing enough of that. I've just been trying to take it day by day here. IT's hard sometimes, but there are cool things about life here.

Monday, November 12, 2007


so I'm sitting in computer class, and we're starting a unit on web design. which is cool. I've done it, but at least it's better than Access. Anyway, part of what we were doing was looking at links, so here are a couple.

School №8
--this is my school's website. In russian only, but have a look anyway. There are some pictures and things.

Old City
--This is the old part of yakutsk, where the city originally was. it's got pictures and you can choose to read it in English if you want.

enjoy! for me it's back to russian land.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


That word is kind of like "So..." And it's the title of this post because honestly, I don't really know what to write about. I mean, stuff's been happening, it always is. I suppose I could write about my most embarrassing exchange student moment ever, but honestly, I don't feel like rehashing it, plus I think it would make a better oral story. So when I get home, Ask me about it. By then I'll think it's hilarious.

I could write about how the boys (Accidentally I think) deleted my pictures on my memory card, and how frustrated that made me. I could write about how on top of that, the computer has decided to recognize my flash drive as an application rather then a flash drive and therefore won't open it. (If you know how to fix this please tell me)

I could talk about how I just want a hug, and someone to tell me it'll be okay.

But I'm not going to.
Because while I like to keep it real, I hate feeling like I'm always being negative about my exchange because for the most part, I really am enjoying myself.

Most mornings I wake up and think "WOw, I'm in Russia. How cool is that?" I'm working on trying to speak more. Because while I have a decent sized vocabulary when it comes to understanding, I don't speak enough so my speaking vocabulary (and writing vocabulary) is horrible.

I've eaten sushi while speaking Russian twice. Which is really cool too. Suhi is really popular here. I've been to two different restaurants that serve it.

Raisa and I went visiting to Maria the club president's yesterday. It was fun. Mostly because she has a seven month old baby and we got to play with him some. IT's interesting, because it seems like a lot of people here have one or two kids who are a lot older than their one or two younger kids. I can name probably three families that are like this just sitting here right now. I'm not sure why this is except people here seem to get married a lot younger so maybe they have a kid right off and then ten years later decide to have another one.

When you go "в гости" (Visiting) in Russia it usually involves dinner, looking at the hosts' photographs (This usually involves any and all photographs of the trips they took too america or their children took, probably because I"m American and they think I'll be interested to see it.) and then tea. Sometimes various other entertainment. Sometimes I find the photographs boring, but last night I actually found them to be rather interesting. Maybe because I know Maria a little bit.

This past week, our school was on fall break. It went by really fast and I really enjoyed it. I'm not really looking forward to going back to school, but there's not a lot I can do about it. Besides it has it's silver lining because that's where I get most of my exposure to Russian.

The Rotary people told us at orientation to not look at the big picture of exchange. They said to break it down into smaller chunks and it's easier. Know what? They're right. They suggest looking forward to events. And that does help some. I was looking forward to fall break, and now that it's almost over, I'm looking forward to New Year's. After that I'm looking forward to the April Orientation where I'll get to meet all the other exchangers, and then the district conference in June, Ysakh, the Yakutian New Year at the end of June, and then home on July 11.

That does help some. What really helps me though is to look backwards. In other words instead of saying. "Oh my goodness I"m still going to be here 7.5 months!" I think "Wow, I've already been here two and a half months." or "Can you belive that it's already November 11th?" Okay, so it's not quite two and a half months, but it's close enough.

I'm going to make a prediction. It seems that a lot of people by the end of their exchange are either like "Get me out of this country now," or "No! I don't want to leave!" My prediction is that When the time comes for me to get on that plane, I'll miss this place, but I'll know that it's time for me to go.

But that's just my guess. I don't really know becasuse it's still 7 and a half months away.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cold (Part One of a I don't know how many part series)

Sometimes I seriously envy the people who chose to go to South America. Okay so the past few days I've been envying them a lot. Mostly because do you know how cold it is here? One of the Rotarians back home wanted me to describe a Siberian winter. So here you go. Although I've called this part one because technically it's not winter temperatures. So I might be updating again.


It's been fairly cold here. In the -20s celcius. Do you know how cold that is? It's cold enough that you have to bundle up. Because if you don't your toes go numb very quickly. And your legs if you're not wearing underarmor. Do you know what it feels like on the exposed bits of your face when it's negative 20? It feels like your skin is going to peel off. Fun huh?

I've learned a lot about cold here.

I've learned that though you might not think there is any difference in temperature between -13 and -15 there actually is, and -15 is practically a heat wave compared to negative 20.

And someone in the Rotary club here told me this was warm, and that it's still fall temperatures. ha ha ha.

If I'm going to walk anywhere I wear thick, heavy socks, Underarmor, and a hoodie over whatever shirts I'm wearing. On top of that I wear my long coat, and the hat/scarf combo that Raisa made me. And Usually I pull up my hood.

And a lot of times I think to myself "I could've been in Argentina right now." but then I also remember that I'm learning Russian, or trying too, and that's a good feeling.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Everbody Dance Now

First of all business. The general information is this. My new computer days are Monday and Thursday. These are the days that I check my e-mail and update my blog if I get a chance. Just thought I'd tell you all. Also if you would like to say привет to me through chat, I am usually on the Google Talk client about 6:30am Eastern Standard Time, Thursday mornings. Usually I'm on until about 7:30 or so because I chat with my american parents and then do my e-mail thang.

Now on to the stuff I know you want to hear.

As you know because I've mentioned it several times. I'm one of those people who likes to tell you about my exchange as it is. The good and the bad, because I don't want to give a dishonest impression. There are two sides to every coin. So let me be frank. Yesterday was hard in some ways. Mostly because I suddenly realized that I wasn't going to get to be with my loud, boisterous, obnoxious, loving family for Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is my favorite.

It just kind of hit me all of a sudden (It was a really bad time because babushka, dedushka, Raisa's sister and my host cousins were over) and I got really upset. And that's about all I'm going to say because I don't want to sound like I'm whining and I don't want to sound like I'm looking for a pity party because I'm not. I had a moment, I got over it. I feel better about it now. Exchange does that kind of thing to you. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Yesterday evening turned out to be really good though. Lilia had said she knew some people who wanted to meet me. I'd never had sushi before so we went to a cafe where you can get it, and we met up with these two guys who were friends of Lilia's. It was an awesome evening. We sat in that cafe from maybe 8 or 8:30 until midnight when we decided to see what was going on elsewhere. The upshot of the whole thing is that I had a really really good time, which included not getting home until 3:45am and resulted in me feeling good about myself and this exchange basically all day. (except for a few moments in art class, but I've said enough about that in previous posts)

We went to Drakon. Drakon is what I guess is the best club in Yakutsk. I wouldn't know because I've only been to it and none of the others. So yeah, I went clubbing, and had a really good time. It was an interesting cultural experience. One of the things I found most interesting was that except for the beer and cigarettes, it was a lot milder than a school dance. What I mean is this. When you go to a high school dance back home, everyone is dancing like they're having sex with their clothes on. Here you had maybe one couple doing that. And one couple kept making out in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone else seemed to be there just to have a good time and feel the music. I sure did. I'm hoping to get to go again.

The major downside was that even though I did not have any beer, or alcohol, nor did I smoke (aside from what I inhaled second hand) I still came home reeking of cigarettes and beer and the next morning took a good long shower and washed my clothes.

Oh and I had a major freakout. Nothing horrible, but we were in the cafe and I ordered a soft drink. The chick brought it to me, and I drank some and all of a sudden I go. "There's ice in this glass." And everyone's like "What?" and I'm like "This is the first time I"ve had ice in a drink since I came to Russia." It was a cultural difference that I'd noticed and I thought about before, but drinking cold pop just really really freaked me out because it was...well...cold. And there was ice in the glass. And yeah, It felt odd for there to be ice there.

There were a couple of times where I couldn't follow conversations due to my lack of Russian skills, but for the most part, it felt really really good to just act like the stupid young adult I am. Yup. I hope to get together with that group again. I've already mentioned it to Lilia and she definitely agrees.

I guess the main point of this post is just to say that while exchange still gets me down sometimes, for the most part the good is outweighing the bad and with everyday that passes I get more used to it here, and more and more I think "Yeah, Yeah, I'm going to make it through, I'm going to be okay."

One other thing that I've found interesting is that since I've been distanced from my friends at home, I see them in a different light. Okay, it's not a different light really, it's just...I don't know. Because I'm farther away and not seeing them all the time, I can see their personalities better. Or maybe I've just found my own personality. Because we are influenced by our friends whether we notice it or not. SO maybe it's just that I can see with clear eyes who I really am. It's an interesting view.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


A couple I forgot:

Pounds I've gained: 10
Times I've tried to take a shower and there's no hot water: 4
Dreams in Russian: 1

Anyway, I can tell I'm starting to get more used to life here. How? Because stuff is starting to lost its novelty. The snow is no longer Russian snow, it's just snow. I've spoken to so many English classes that that's no longer new and exciting. The people who pull their stuff on little sleds is still a novelty but it won't be for long, and I no longer notice that most of the people I pass in the street have the asian look.

Which is cool. Getting used to stuff is good.

I've taken to reading in Class. Which is actually helping my vocabulary. I learned maybe four or five new words today just by reading. That's good.

Sometimes I feel like there are just so many words. And I want to absorb them all right now. But I can't because my brain doesn't work that way. Sometimes I wish it did.

I've had some interesting feelings lately. I spoke to another english class today and decided that I hate speaking english. It feels weird in my mouth. Wrong in my mouth. My lips feel fat and my ears don't like the way the words sound. It's the oddest sensation.

One interesting thing that happened was after I finished my presentation. The class was shy about asking questions and at one point Kunai looked at a group of girls and was like "Think of a question because everyone needs to ask one," And automatically in I go "Yeah, and do it quick because the easy questions are going fast like "What music do you like?" " and then all of a sudden I realized that Kunai had spoken Russian, and I'd answered in English. But I'd heard and understood the Russian as if it were english. It was really really cool. Made me feel awesome. I guess I am making progress.

The other day I heard a song in French and right after it a song in Russian. I understood the Russian better than the French.