Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Russian Influence

First off I'd just like to say go me! I double checked the disconnect button and so I can now make my internet time stretch longer by disconnecting from online while I type. HUZZAH!

Have you ever thought- Really thought- about how much you are influenced by the everyday world around you? If you haven't then take a step back now and think about it. Like I never realized how much I was influenced by my friends back home until someone told me I sound like them, or I started using some of the same phrases they do. But that's not really the point of this post (Sorry to all my lovely Druzya.) The point of this post is that I didn't realize until today how much of an influence this city has made on me in only three short weeks.

Three weeks. Yup. Yesterday was the official start of my fourth week here. I didn't realize how much I'd been influenced by this new world around me until Judith walked into the picture. Judith is an American. She's an older lady who spends ten months at a time travelling around Russia's far east giving seminars on teaching English. This is here third or fourth time doing this. She is based in Vladivostock and travels to all different far east cities. Including Yakutsk.

She went with us to the zoopark (that's pronounced Zahpark in russian. I should have been excited at the prospect of getting to speak english to a native english speaker since that's one of the things I was complaining about in my paper journal. Honestly I prefered to stick with my limited Russian if I could.

Judith can't speak Russian therefore it kind of boosted my ego to know that I at least had an inkling of what Raisa, Masha, and Evgenia were talking about and in some instances I could sort of join in on the conversation.

I never thought I'd come to love this city. I'll never forget my thoughts as they drove me home from the airport. I thought this was the ugliest city in the world, yet as we drove past it on the way to the cafe where we ate lunch I wanted to proudly point out "That's our University!" Except I realized that Judith already knew this as she'd given seminars there the past two days.

I guess it just surprised me, to know that I've come to feel this way about the city, and the Russian people in only three weeks. No, I don't feel Russian (At least not yet) and I'm definitely not Yakutian, but it doesn't really feel like I'm quite American either. To be perfectly honest, it's not a bad feeling. It's like I'm neither one nor the other, but a little of both and that's okay with me.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It's plus four degrees celcius. Vika, A girl I met today, told me that in december I'm going to miss the days of Plus four degress. Probably.

Today was a little better. Not school, but this afternoon. Raisa wants me to get out of the house more and I agree with her completely. I wanted to go do something. Anything, and even though most of the people on my phone list I didn't really want to hang out with. So Raisa called up another one of Sakhayana's friends, Vika. I met her and a girl named Tanya at Lenin square. We went and got drinks at a cafe and sat around talking for a while until their friend (The third) Natasha met us, for clarity's sake we call her Nataha. Anyway so we went cafe hopping. I guess that's what people do here. Although we'd do the same thing in canton with Starbucks and Steak and Shake, so it's really not all that different. After the first cafe we went to the Cafe at the Lena theater. I met a whole bunch of people who knew Vika and that group, most of whom I don't remember. We walked and talked, were joined by some guys which was nice. (I've been missing guys, not in a BOYS! way, but just their personalities. I've had limited guy contact since I've been here.) We talked about slang and stuff in Russian and English, and the girls thought my demonstration of the word "emo" was hilarious. It was a really awesome time. And it made me feel better about being here. Made me feel like I can make it.

I'm only just know realizing it, but I think that this exchange is probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I didn't realize it going in. I should have. I'd heard hints about it, and Madame warned me straight out, but did I listen? No, I thought "nah, I was meant for exchange, that won't happen to me, I won't get homesick, I won't have any problems" and I haven't had any major problems, it's just that this whole experience itself is tough. I mean, it doesn't sound difficult when you lay it out in front of you

"s an exchange student you will spend ten months in a foreign country going to school, learning the language, the culture, and trying to integrate yourself while promoting world peace. " I mean going to school? It honestly doesn't sound that hard does it? But it is! Sometimes I don't appear stressed and even don't feel stressed, but I am. I mean I have to be kind and polite all the time. I have to try to remember faces that all look the same (Especially here in Yakutsk where practically every one is Yakutian and so they all have that Asian look) I have to make small talk with random people I've just met who I'm supposed to hang out with again and again even though I might think they are immature, or stupid, or whatever. I have to sit and listen to conversations that take place around me. I have to try to participate in them. I have to smile (but not too much), do my school work, get out of the house and do things, be myself, but be myself in a different way because the Russian way of thinking and acting and being me might not be the same as the American me. It's all very confusing actually.

okay enoguh of that. I'm not sure whether it was complaining, philosophy, or observation. Here's an observation. I've decided that the Russian language is basically just a collection of Root words that you combine with about a thousand prefixes and suffixes to create new words and variations on those words. You probably are thinking that since I've discovered this it's accelerated my learning of Russian. You're wrong. Honestly it's still just as hard because I never know which prefixes and suffixes I need to use to try to express what I'm trying to say. Which is really really frustrating. Not to mention my horrible grammer. I try not to giggle at the odd things my classmates say in English class because I know I sound just as bad, if not worse when I speak Russian.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


There's nothing really exciting going on here. Seriously. I know that you're thinking "But you're in Russia! How can nothing be going on?" Okay so stuff goes on, just not stuff that's worth writing about. actually I do have some essays I intened to put on this blog (Essays about life here and such) but I can type them up while not connected to the internet and then publish them. Right now I'm actually connected and I'm afraid to press the disconnect button (Yes I know which one is the disconnect button now. Hooray for the dictionary!) because I'm afraid of killing the internet connection again. So I'll type some up maybe tomorrow and post whenever I can.

I think this weekend we're going to the "zoopark" which as you might guess is the zoo. I'm like "okay, sounds cool to me." I think Raisa thinks I should get out of the house more. I seriously need to make the effort to get in touch with people I've met here. which I seriously am going to start doing. Seriously. Because Anna Nicholaevna, my tutor, told me that I should speak as much as possible with native speakers. So since I'm here I've decided that school work takes second place. Yes I try in school. I special assignments in Literature, Obshest, History, and English. I do my work for French. I copy problems from the board to my notebook in Physics and Math. Yes, I know that's bad, but here's the thing. I'm here to learn Russian. The math they are doing in math class I don't understand in English so I definitely don't understand in Russian. They move really fast too. So while I do make an effort to do stuff in class, and try the problems and all, I honestly don't make that much effort outside of class. My priority here is learning Russian, not the functions of x and the integral of s. Sorry guys, but that's the way it is.

Anyway, since I have nothing of interest here's a music video for you. It's my favorite Russian song right now. I think I might buy the CD that has this song on it. It's pretty popular here right now. It's by MakSim.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day Trip

This is Russia's far east. Isn't it absolutely beautiful? The photograph doesn't do it justice. Honestly. Whoever thought that this part of the world wasn't beautiful was high or on crack or something (Yeah, I know, it was me. I said they were sending me to the ugliest place on earth, well I lied so there.) Sudnday I spent the day with my host mom, My host cousins Masha and Lavrik and Anna who was translating for me. We drove all through the countryside, took a long ferry ride across the Lena River, Drove a long ways more over very bumpy dirt roads and then we came to the Druzhba center. It is an outdoor museum full of information about life in early Yakutsk and the Yakut people. I had a really good time.

On the ferry ride to the museum I learned how to play Four card Durak. It's a card game that kind of reminds me of uno. I enjoyed it a lot. I loved getting to hang out with Masha, Lavik and Anna. I learned about the rich history of Yakutsk. I learned that if you drive through the countryside, take a roll of toilet paper, no rest areas here. I learned that this part of the world is beautiful in it's own way. I learned about the First church in yakutsk, about the first school and how the teacher lived in the front part and taught in the back. Yup, Sunday was definitely a very good day.

One interesting thing. I figured out why even though it's the size of Akron, Yakutsk feels smaller than Alliance. See, with alliance if you're looking for something to do, you just drive to canton or akron, and find it. (momentary flashback to summer) Here, it's Yakutsk. That's about it. When the city ends it's backwoods Russia. Literally. I mean, there are farms, but not a whole ton. It's like when the city ends so does civilization. But I love the rugged beauty. Oh and the farms. They don't fence in the animals. I can see why. Why waste money on fences when there's no place for the animals to wander off too. I mean, they just go graze and do there thing and come back at night. IF you're driving on the roads near dusk you do have to be careful that you don't hit the animals.

They're smart though, both the cows, and the dogs that roam the city. I've seen them wait to cross the road until it was safe. Just like the people. It's very impressive if you ask me.

Well I hope for those of you who were hoping I would give a more substantial post, here it is, enjoy it.

Oh and there were some "complaints" about my use of the word "random" All I can say is that it's a good word to use when describing random events (yup there it is again) No, seriously it's all in good fun.

I appreciate all the e-mails from everyone after my second Russia update, I'm sorry I don't always reply, but I appreciate it, I really do.

hope everything is going well for everyone!

Friday, September 14, 2007


Do not click on computer buttons when you can't understand what they say.


It's a bad idea.

A very bad idea.

Bad things might happen.

You might just break your host family's internet connection.

If you do happen to click a button, make sure you don't try to fix the problem by clicking more buttons that you can't read.

More bad things might happen

Like you locking your host family out of their computer

Like your host mom having to call her nephew to come and fix it.

Learn your lesson and leave well enough alone.

Chalk this one up to embarrassing moments on exchange.

Okay that was going to be all I was going to say, but life has been alternately boring and interesting here in Yakutsk so I thought I'd let you all know what's going down here. It's not that anything particularly exciting is going on, it's just little things that build up after a while. I had a foray into the guy culture in this country and realized that the phrase "Boys will be boys" is completely true. I've been learning more of the language. I feel like I'm not learning much culture, but maybe I'm just not noticing it. I'm liking it better here. I'm more used to the outside being rather chilly and all the buildings being burning hot inside. I'm making some friends. I don't know how close or tight they'll become, but it's better than having no one. I still miss my posse though.

I've been here fourteen days and my dictionary is falling apart.

I'm becoming more involved with school. I have projects to do for three teachers, and homework to do for two more. My weekend is booked up with social stuff. I'm basically doing well here, and enjoying life.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Russia Update #2

Hello all!

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.

Language Status
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.
-Clothes dryers
-fabric softener
-chinese food
-macaroni and cheese
-being the right temperature
-being stupid with my friends
-my parents

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!

Abigail Faust
Якутск, Республика Саха (Якутия) Россия
Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Yakutia) Russia
E-Mail: (Rotary)
AIM: InterpretedSigns

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Yeah, so if you want to see them, I've got them in one central location. That location being Flickr


I update them whenever I feel like it and have taken more pictures. I will probably update more of them this afternoon as I'm going to the city celebrations. Anyway, I'm not going to post everytime I update the pictures because that's a waste of space. But I will put a link on the left hand side when I get a chance. You just have to keep checking in on it.

*EDIT* For those of you who were trying to get to flickr using the link, the problem of it being broken has been fixed, so it should work now, sorry about the inconvenience.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Moving in Mysterious Ways

it's true that God does. I didn't pay attention in school today. It's been a long week and I'm tired of people talking over me, and not being able to join in. I'm tired of not hearing jokes, not acting stupid with my friends. When I dream, it's about the friends I left behind in America. I was depressed because I felt like I wasn't going to make any lasting friendships here in this lonely Siberian city. I made sure I sat by classmates in every class, and not at a desk alone. We were getting down to the end of the day. The only thing left was two blocks of physics, and this one girl who was in the group I hung out with when French was cancelled, came and sat by me.

We basically spent the whole two blocks being stupid and it felt so good! We passed notes, she wrote in English and I wrote in Russian. We talked about how we dislike physics and the teacher is evil, and it was a really good time. Very refreshing. Right now, I'm waiting for Natasha to call, we're going to go eat at a cafe, and I'm going to tell her that I need to buy some things and I want to take pictures. This weekend, Raisa is on a business trip, but I'm keeping busy. The city is celebrating it's 375th birthday and so Today and tomorrow I'm doing stuff with Natasha, and Sunday I'm going out with some classmates. I think it's going to be a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On Food

Okay. So here's what I've got about food. First of all, whatever it is I've been eating here is pretty good for the most part. Yesterday with dinner we had Ikra which is caviar. I'd never had caviar before and it was pretty good, kind of tangy and fishy and whatnot.

Yesterday night after I was all ready for bed, Raisa brough me in some Kefir to drink. It was kind of like drinking yogurt. But not quite. It was different. It had that kind of sour yogurt taste, but it also tasted like regular milk. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly. Sprite here tastes different. Not bad necesarily, but just different. Sweeter I think is the best way to describe it. I decided I like borcht. It's greasy and tasty. I tried Bliny at lunch today. Bliny are basically crepes, but for some reason I like them and I didn't like the crepes that I had when we were in France. But yeah, I ate them with honey which tasted different from home too. Richer.

Also at lunch I had a drink that I think was Kvass. Which is cool that I got to taste it if it was, but I don't really like it. Whether it was kvass or something else, it was definitely fermented so I tasted it and drank a teeny tenny tiny bit during the toasts. It was definitely something I wouldn't have chosen for myself. By the way, it tasted like fermented water if that's even possible. lol.

Basically my philosophy regarding food is just try everything they give you no matter what it is, and if you don't know what it is, fine. Actually I'm wondering what kind of meat I had in my rice at lunch to be perfectly honest. It looked like chicken but it wasn't. It was tougher like beef, and it had a different taste. Maybe it was horse or reindeer. And I'm being entirely serious. Unfortunately I have no idea what it was.

The picture attached to this post is my breakfast cereal. Yup, coco puffs! It amazes me sometimes how similar this place is to where I came from in some ways.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Okay so here's how it goes down. The apartment where I'm living is three floors up, in a decent neighborhood in Yakutsk. There is a large outer door, a small hallway then an inner door. When you open the inner door, Vot! there's the apartment. Anyway so my host mom was kind enough to give me a set of keys. Let me just say that I hate Soviet Era locks. HATE THEM!

Raisa dropped me off after school today. There I am in this dark little hallway in a scary looking soviet era block apartment (though actually I feel quite safe despite the appearance of it.) and I'm trying to open this big, wooden outer door. Plus I'm carrying a backpack full of books, a bag with my school shoes, and an англо-русский словарь (Russian English Dictionary) I've got my little skeleton key out and I'm trying to get the door open. I must have been out there for twenty minutes. Finally to get in I basically had to pick the lock.

Stupid Soviet Era locks.

I think I'm going to go practice opening and closing the door from the outside...

Monday, September 03, 2007

She Lives!

yup. I'm alive and doing better. See when I first got here, I was tired and stressed, and a little overwhelmed. I kept thinking. What am I doing? ten months is a long time! Too long! Why did I come to this forsaken piece of dirt in the middle of Siberia?

But it's all good. Sleep helps, journaling helps, keeping busy helps. Remember that kids!

Anyway, Sorry but this post won't be long, I've been on the computer for a while and I basically have carpal tunnel from writing some uber long e-mails. The upshot is that Even though this city kind of scares me in some ways. I like it so far.

I went to school today. I didn't know that they dress up so I was the only one wearing jeans. Oops. I wasn't self-conscious though. I'm not really sure why. Wenesday I'm going to a rotary meeting. I've been working my legs by walking back and forth across the city. I don't think I'm losing weight though because My host mom feeds me so well. She's really nice. So are my classmates.

Sometimes I feel like I'm two years old, because I don't know anything. I did have a decent conversation with a classmate this afternoon though while we were shopping for a white blouse. I didn't get shoes so I'll probably just wear my heeled sandals tomorrow.

I've been making a lot of observations that I'll get to eventually here, but right now I'm tired.

Oh, and I hate doing this, but...
Zach and Kara, if you happen to read this, I found the pirate McDonalds! Forgot to mention it to you...

Anyway, for all of you in america and elsewhere, signing off for now!