Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Russia Update #4

I know this is late. I'm not going to apologize for it because first, Sometimes I tend to loose track of the time, and second, I've been putting it off on purpose. Although why those aren't reasons to apologize, I don't know.

I've been trying to think how best to sum up my third (and now over half of my fourth) month here. My last e-mail, as you all know, was full of inner wonderings as I was trying to figure out how to fit in here, and that sort of thing. It's not that these last few weeks havn't been full of inner wonderings, it's just, they've become harder to express.

The good news is that for the most part I'm doing really well here. Yeah, I have my occasional melt-downs and freak-outs and irritations, but they're becoming less common now. Sure, I sometimes get tired of wearing underarmour everytime I want to go out, not having the all american "convenience foods" and so forth, but I have all the basics here that I need to survive, and that's good. The rest are just nice. Besides, I've discovered that a lot of the stuff I think I "need" can be found here, but maybe in a different form than in America, or possibly I have to look a little harder for it. The only thing that I haven't been able to find here that would be really nice, is more solution for my contacts (I wear hard,) but that's an entirely different story, and not really for this e-mail.

I've made a friend at school. Which is about the best thing ever because school goes so much faster when you have someone to talk too. Even though I don't get grades, and don't always turn the work in, I still make an effort to do it, because it's one thing that helps keep me sane sometimes, just having something to do.

I've been here three and a half months, and it still takes me a long long time to do my homework. Wow, three and a half months, when I say it like that, it doesn't really seem to be that long, but in someways, like stuff I've learned, it seems like forever. I got off that plane a long time ago.

While homework still takes a while, the good news is that my language is coming along great. I'm getting better at being able to say exactly what I want. I don't have to pantomime nearly as much, and my listening vocabulary is pretty big. I follow other people's conversations, I have some slight difficulty, but am working on people who monologue. i.e. newscasters and such. The thing I have the most difficulty with is when people talk directly too me, but even that's getting better.

As I was walking home from school today, a lady was like "You're the foreigner eh?" and I said "yeah" and we stopped and had a little conversation. In Russian. I mean, how cool is that? And how many people can say they can do that.

The weather here isn't too bad. It's been colder these last couple of days, and in fact, it's supposed to be in the 40s (That's negative) all week. So far the cold hasn't hit me too hard because once you get used to it, it's not so bad. You just bundle up well.

For those of you who read my blog, you heard about my slight visa problem. Apparently it's a pretty common thing, as one of the other rotary exchangers in Russia right now was also having problems with hers. For not very long, maybe an hour, I thought I might have to go home, and you know what? That thought terrified me, made me angry. In that moment, it hit me how much I'd come to love it here. I guess you don't notice how used to things you get until they might be taken away from you.

I keep a paper journal as well as my blog, and I write in it every night. One of the questions I've been exploring lately is "what will it be like to go back?" It seems to me that exchangers are from two schools when it comes time to go home. They either don't want to leave the country and would stay forever if Rotary and their visas allowed, or they're sick of the country and ready to go home. I'm not sure that I'm going to be either one. The thought of going home now, makes me want to dig my heels in and stay because, well, I'm not finished learning yet. I think when the time comes, I'll be sad, but ready to go. Because then, it will be time.

Perhaps it seems odd to be thinking about this when I'm only half-way though my fourth month, but suddenly july doesn't seem so far away anymore. Back in september I was sitting here thinking "Oh my word! July is such a long time away!" Yet, at the same time, in the back of my head, I knew it really wasn't. I have a feeling that it's going to go quickly.

Sometimes it feels like I'm living in a dream here. I'm afraid that I'll wake up and will be in a college dorm, or back home, and have never come to Russia. What scares me the most is the idea that after I get back, me being here might be the part that feels like a dream, and I don't want to forget about these people or this place.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about growing up too. Because I realized that when I get back home, I'll be starting college and suddenly have all these responsiblities. Adult responsibilities that I'm not sure I'm ready for because a part of me likes being a teenager. But then I suppose you can't stop time, and everyday is a new adventure, da?

OOh, so I just realized I found my philosophy vein again. I'm sorry that it always seems to happen when I'm writing these e-mails, but it's like all the inner stuff that I write and think about over the month, just bleed out onto the screen infront of me. Odd.

Well, in other news (Not to kill the mood) New Year's is coming up very very quickly. We have school monday through friday next week and then we get a two week holiday to celebrate. Christmas here is on the 7th of January as it's still celebrated on the day of the old calender. Raisa's oldest daughter is flying in on the 28th, and from what Raisa's said, the whole family's coming over on the night of the 31st to celebrate. I'm planning on giving everyone a little something and when I mentioned it to Raisa she said that I didn't have to do a bunch of big presents, and I said, it's not, just a few small things. Because a few small things is all I've got.

I've decided to begin my souvenier shopping for various people after New Year's. It'll give me something to do in the dead time between New Year's and Spring. Ooh, I'm not looking forward to that. we have a span between New Year's and Spring break where as far as I know there are no holidays. It's going to be a long haul. Yet the good news is that when Spring break rolls around I'll be heading to the orientation in Vladivostok and then to Moscow and St. Petersburg. After that, we have district conference the first week of June, Ysakh, the Yakutian new year at the end of June and then two weeks later I hit home, so I think that part's going to go fast. It's just keeping busy during the winter stretch that's going to be hard. Perhaps it would be a good time to visit some other sites such as the permafrost institute.

Oh, I forgot. The reason that I started the above paragraph before getting distracted is if there's anything relatively small (I only have two suitcases remember) that people want from here, please send me an e-mail and let me know. I'll see if I can work something out for you.

Okay, I guess that's all from here. My next update probalby won't be until the middle of january, after the holidaying has ceased (Unless of course, I get lazy or have trouble figuring out what to write.) Until then, I hope and pray that you are all doing well.

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