Friday, May 4th, 2012

A Southern Excursion

Сколько лет, сколько зим! Finally have something substantial to report – I did some traveling in the south of Russia! We went as a program, and we traveled for almost 9 full days. A brief day-to-day overview: Tuesday, April 24th Class. All day, so scatterbrained – still needed to go food-shopping for the train and grab my stuff at home to make it to the train station by 6. We boarded the train around 6:30, and prepared ourselves for 28 hours of unadulterated joy and excitement. …. Being tall has its benefits, but not on overnight trains. My dangling feet […]

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Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Lazy Sundays

For me, there’s an indescribable comfort in waking up on a Sunday morning and realizing I have an utter lack of plans for the day. By nature, I’m probably what Russians would call a “домаседка” (domasedka) – I find an inordinate amount of joy in sitting at home on weekends and doing nothing. On Sundays, I usually sleep in as late as possible (for me, 11 o’ clock) and then shuffle into the kitchen to start making my breakfast. It probably takes about five minutes for my host mom to hear what I’m doing and rush into the kitchen – […]

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Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The Difficulties of Expression

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about words, probably because I learn so many new ones every day. With these new words, I learn new prefixes, suffixes, and endings. I learn new expressions containing these new words. Sometimes, I still do this thing in my head where I translate everything I hear to English – I can tell that I’ve started to do this less, but it still happens, especially when I’m tired. Though this tactic helps me get through the last 20 minutes of Politologia, it’s not exactly helpful, because words and expressions in a foreign language don’t always […]

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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

No Putin, no cry

Наконец-то – the elections. As projected, Vladimir Putin won. He will be entering his third term as president. He won with about 64 percent of the vote – quite low by his standards, actually. On Monday night, people gathered in Moscow to protest his victory. There was also a demonstration here in Petersburg, in St. Isaac’s square – I didn’t attend, as I was prohibited by both my program and my common sense. My presence (as an American) at an event like that isn’t exactly appreciated. A few friends have messaged me asking me how things are here, and if […]

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Monday, February 27th, 2012

Blini Overdose

Maslenitsa – my new favorite holiday. It’s celebrated during the week before Lent. Traditionally, people spend the week visiting friends and relatives, and relishing in their last opportunity to enjoy milk, eggs, and butter; technically, none of the three are permitted during Lent for Orthodox Christians. I knew that people ate blini during this holiday, but I severely underestimated how often, and how many. Comparable to crepes, blini are delicious and can be eaten in a variety of different ways. Personally, I like to eat them with butter and jam, or dripping in condensed milk (sgushonka – сгушёнка). If you […]

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Monday, February 20th, 2012

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 […]

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Thursday, February 9th, 2012

When in doubt, ask a babushka.

Today, I got lost. Really, really lost. I highly recommend it. I’m only being a little facetious – to be completely honest, I may have actually had fun in the process. Well, maybe not. I lost feeling in my toes for a while, but I saw things that I may never have seen had I not gotten lost. On Wednesdays, we don’t have class, as these days are set aside for excursions. This week’s excursion, however, was last night . We went to the Alexandrinsky Theater to see Boris Eifman’s ballet, Onegin. I loved it – some parts were classical, […]

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Careful, doors are closing.

During orientation, we were shown a diagram depicting the stages of culture shock; initial elation is usually followed by a period of distress and struggle, after which one begins to cope and eventually adjust to cultural differences. A week ago, the idea of culture shock was a distant thought in my mind, maybe even an abstract one. I didn’t doubt that I would experience it, I just didn’t think about it at all. After a few exciting days in the heart of the city, I moved to my home-stay. There I understood the wonder that is culture shock. As I […]

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Friday, January 27th, 2012

Almost to Pete!

Привет ребята, In a few hours, I’ll be on the plane to St. Petersburg (well, technically to Munich first). For the past two days, I’ve been at my program’s pre-departure orientation in D.C. I’m one of 17 students going to St. Petersburg – seven are academic year students, so they spent their fall semesters in Petersburg as well. Brave souls! I envy them, they’re already past the initial struggle stage that is soon to come. Most of us are Russian majors, but a few are minors. I can’t really explain how gratifying it is to meet everyone on my program. Everyone is so […]

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

ну, поехали!

If my suitcase were alive, it would be laughing at me. For a few days now, I’ve been gathering all the items I was planning to pack for my semester abroad. The piles are slightly larger than I imagined. I could have sworn this suitcase was bigger. Naturally, I’ve decided to procrastinate instead by writing my first blog post. Здравствуйте! My name is Alex Bird, and I’ll be spending my semester in St. Petersburg, Russia. You’re probably definitely asking, why Russia? I’ll do my best to explain my fascination with this enigmatic culture and complex (and to me, often mystifying) language throughout […]

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Places I've Been

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