во вторник

7:28 – Suddenly awake. Sky is pitch black. Assume it’s probably 3 or 4.

7:30 – Alarm. Ужас. Snooze.

7:40 – Turn on blinding desk lamp. And… snooze.

7:50 – Awake?

8:00 – Awake. Groggy. Swing legs off the bed. Toes search for тапочки.

8:02 – Up, shuffling around room. Paw through clothes in wardrobe. Первый корпус, 5-й этаж today. In other words, class is in a building comparable to the refrigerated section of a grocery store. No frozen dinners to snack on, unfortunately.

8:10 – Tights on under my pants. I will never get used to this.

8:13 – Trudge into kitchen. Mumble “доброе утро” to Nata, my host-mom. Clumsily sit down at tiny table. Nata sings to herself as she makes breakfast.

8:16 – Каша! Decide Russian oatmeal would win a fight against American oatmeal.

8:17 – Decide thoughts at this hour should not be shared with public.

8:18 – Hear Nata trying to wake Anya. Haha.

8:30 – Anya speeds into the kitchen, grabs a piece of toast. Munches. Speeds out of kitchen.

8:40 – Gather books, cram them into bag. Almost forget Politologia homework. Dennis Sergeyevich would not be pleased.

8:45 – Rush out the door, Anya right behind me. She’s a student at the same university.

8:55 – On the metro. Anya listens to music. I stare out the window and try not to fall over at each stop.

9:30 – After a transfer, we’re out of the metro, and the sky is brighter. Looks like it could be 6 a.m.

9:40 – Right inside the gates. Class starts now. Maybe my teacher is late, too. We part ways, Anya has class in a different building.

9:46 –  Fifth floor, huffing and puffing.

9:48 – Realize that Irina Vladimirovna, our Phonetics teacher and the head teacher of our program, is never late. Rats.

9:50 – Slide into my seat. The not-so-great thing about small classes – everyone notices when you’re not there. Especially when your class has two people in it.

11:10 – Ten minute break between classes. Just stuttered my way through an hour and a half of verbal repetition, vowel reductions, and stress shifts. Bleh.

11:20 – The dreaded Politologia. Dennis Sergeyevich strides in. He’s barely in his seat before he starts asking questions about the text we read for homework. He speaks so quickly that sometimes, I’m not even sure of what he’s asking.

11:45 – “Sasha, скажите, пожалуйста, about the Смутное время.” I understand! He wants to know about the Time of Troubles. I can answer this.

11:46 – Try to say that it was a difficult time of social and economic crisis and that many natural disasters occurred. Don’t really remember the word for ‘natural’. Сти…. something. I mumble something unintelligible and trail off.

11:47 – “Do you mean natural disasters?” Стихийный! Right. I smile sheepishly.

12:50 – Перерыв for lunch. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we eat in the university cafeteria since it’s in the building where we have class. On university grounds, we are only allowed to speak in Russian, and lunches in the cafeteria are often humorous as we try, so unsuccessfully, to blend in among the sea of Russian university students.

1:40 – More Politiologia. Mrrrrh.

3:10 – Freedom! I go with some friends to a cafe on Nevski. It’s located in this great bookstore where I spend a lot of time walking around and reading the transliterated titles. I found one of my favorites the other day, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

5:10 – The afternoons always fly by. Time to go home.

5:20 – My favorite part of day – the 5:15 metro jam. For a stop or two, I am a sardine in the can that is a metro car. After I transfer away from the center city line, it becomes less crowded. A seat opens up. I squeeze into it. My mind wanders. I read the advertisements on the walls, and try to practice newly-learned phrases in my head.

6:00 – Hop off the metro and onto the escalator. Always takes a little longer than I think it will.

6:10 – Arrive home, out of breath. Home is also on the 5th floor. Usually, Anya is already home, and we talk a little over tea. I wonder how many cups of tea I drink per day? Upwards of 5, definitely.

8 ish – Nata arrives home. Soon, I hear, “Sashaaaa, ужин готов!” I come into the kitchen and sit down at my usual spot. We eat, or rather, I eat and Nata watches me eat, to my constant chagrin. I convince her to sit down and eat with me, but it’s only because I refuse to start eating until she does. She chatters, and I understand the gist of almost everything. I contribute a few thoughts. She delicately corrects my grammar, but encourages me to keep going. We laugh as the cats engage in their nightly scuffle at our feet.

10 ish – I settle in for the night. No class tomorrow, as Wednesday is excursion day. I read some Harry (Garry) Potter in Russian – I’ve read the first book in English so many times that my intuition takes over when I’m clueless about a word. Around this time, I check my e-mail and Facebook. It was strange at first, not being constantly connected to the Internet, but I’m starting to enjoy it.

Midnight ish – Bed. Anya’s kitten, Kosmos, nudges my door open. I leave some room for him near the radiator.


This is an average Tuesday for me. Some Tuesday nights, I go out with friends, but it’s always short-lived as the metro closes at midnight. It’s okay with me – I like to be at home. I’ve really started to love life here. It’s regimented, but I have my freedoms. Though it’s still often very difficult, speaking comes more easily these days. And the past few mornings, the sky has been a bit brighter during my walk to the metro.

Here are a few pictures from my recent adventures (click to see the full size):

Walking on the Moika River. Don't worry, Mom! It was frozen solid. Probably.

Palace Square, from a window in the Hermitage.

Taken from atop St. Isaac's Cathedral.






We sat right next to the fan section. SKA won, 2-1.

SKA vs. Riga

3 Responses to “во вторник”

  1. Alex Bird says:

    Hello! I enjoyed the hockey game very much, but I think I may have enjoyed the fans more. CKA won, of course! :)

  2. Richelle Deysher says:

    Hi Alex! Enjoying your blogs. You will really appreciate PA winters after your experience in Russia. David loves the picture from the hockey game. He wants to know if you enjoyed the game & who won. He thinks it’s so cool that you got to go to a Russian hockey game. Hope all is going well. Those blinis in the other blog sounded really good!

  3. Jeb Bird says:

    Hi Alex…Another wonderfully entertaining blog. Could you imagine getting used to this kind of routine in such harsh conditions year after year? One of the things I noticed and often remark about is the endurance of the Russian people — the harsh conditions in which they live and their brutal circumstances over the last 1000 years seem to have contributed to their persistence.
    I continue to delight in your ability to take your challenges in stride and in your humor, and the awareness you share in your messages.
    Please stop walking on the river!!!!
    Looking forward to your next offering.


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