This will be a bit different from my typical blog post as I wanted to do a brief update now that I have been in Russia for a week but you haven’t seen any posts since before I reached Estonia.
I have a lot to share about Estonia and those posts are coming very soon – I will try to spread them out over the next week or so. I have also been working with a designer for a re-design of my web site, so it may experience some downtime but I promise it will be worth it.
Now, a little more about Russia and St. Petersburg so far.
I arrived in Russia on Monday, September 12, after a six hour bus ride from Tallinn. Nearly two hours of that was just going through immigration and customs at the border. I was quite nervous and became even more so when the border police questioned two men ahead of me for several minutes. I was afraid I had not completed my migration card correctly or that they would find a problem with my visa but, luckily, I made it right through without any questions.
I arrived in St. Petersburg having signed up for a volunteer program in which I would live with a Russian family and tutor them in English for one month. To say the least, things have not exactly played out as I expected. Those of you who follow me Twitter or Facebook are aware of some of the issues, but I am going to wait until later to elaborate further.
Since I have been here:
I spent a day in a Russian school observing and participating in an English class.
I figured out the St. Petersburg Metro system and bought myself a multi-use “Smart Card” for the month.
I have been eaten alive by black flies, which are apparently immune to the effects of even the strongest bug spray. With at least 7 bites on my face alone, I look like a teenager going through puberty again.
According to my Kindle, I have made it 27% through War & Peace. I swear, it goes faster reading it on a Kindle. I feel like they must have left parts out.
I broke down crying and got a big hug from a British guy I just met at the language school I am attending.
I drank a lot of red wine with my host mom.
I found the only gluten free store in St. Petersburg (possibly in all of Russia) and stocked up on some gluten free bread and cookies (which I never eat at home, but desperate times call for desperate measures).
I came down with a cold and cough and managed to buy cold medicine from the pharmacy by myself using Russian.
I accidentally bought a $5.00 bag of M&Ms after confusing the conversion rate between dollars and rubles (but it was sooooo worth it!).
I visited St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and the Russian Museum of Ethnography and strolled along Nevsky Prospekt.
And I have gotten used to the idea of not showering every day, wearing the same socks 2 days in a row and wearing the same pair of jeans for nearly an entire week. I feel like my Western concepts of hygiene are being thrown out the window.
Now that I have started Russian classes, I have access to wi-fi at the language school during the day, Monday through Friday, so I should be able to get back to posting more regularly. But in the meantime, if you aren’t already, please follow me on Twitter and “like” my Facebook page for real-time updates.