Friday, February 28, 2014

Things That Happen to me in Russia

I started a "note" on my phone the first week I was here, just to write down random, interesting things that happen to me while I'm in Russia! I use that list kind of like a personal Twitter feed, anytime something about my new life here or culturally peculiar is on my mind, I put it on the list! Today I thought I would share the list with you guys and give you a little taste of what goes on here on a daily basis...

1. In a bookstore I heard an instrumental jazz version of 50 Cent's "In Da Club"

2. Creepily standing close to or following people speaking English becomes a thing...

3. I discovered super delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, absolutely addictive 12 ruble (35 cents) pyshki!

4. I've more than once seen a man walk past a car, take off his gloves, sweep up a handful of snow off the car's hood and use it to wash his hands all without breaking his stride

5. I got trapped-ish in the metro for about 20 minutes one day...

6. People seem super concerned about not disturbing each others' space by not speaking too loudly (or at all) on public transportation, in the grocery store, etc. but seem to have no problem being obnoxious with their cell phones! Ringers are always on, not even vibrate. When a ringer goes off, people don't even scramble, embarrassed, to find the source and turn off their blaring Selena Gomez ringtone as soon as possible like they would in America, which leads me to believe that it is totally normal etiquette here to just let your phone ring, answer it at your leisure, and carry on a conversation on an overcrowded marshrutka (mini-bus).
           *Note: this phenomenon extends to university classes!

7. There are SO many young people married/with babies! Not sure if it's a Russia thing or just a big city thing

Stock photo, but I see hot mamas in heels every day

8. Leather pants (on women) seem to be really popular

9. English words start to lose familiarity. The other day I couldn't remember if "economy" or "hit man" were words

10. I got stopped and asked for directions three times this week! Usually I'm the one doing the asking! I am finally starting to blend in- woo hoo! Unfortunately, I only actually knew the directions for one of the three requests.

11. On the street near my apartment that I take to school, there is a pretty canal running along it, and every day I see a (apparently) homeless man sitting on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. The past couple weeks the weather has been pretty warm (hovering around freezing) and it looks like this homeless guy has a fan club! There are usually 4 or 5 people standing around, chatting with him, they laugh and sometimes are drinking and smoking cigarettes and it's just really confusing

The "club" is on the left, right in front of that blue building

12. Russians will 9/10 hang their coats on a coat rack (restaurant, classroom, library), and foreigners will 9/10 leave their coats on the back of their chairs.

13. One morning it was raining pretty hard and the street sweepers at my school were shoveling water from one puddle to the next...Russian efficiency

14. My scaryyyy flame-throwing gas water heater also has a light switch next to it. But then I found out it wasn't a light switch- it's a water pressure switch! When you turn it "on", water pressure about doubles haha

15. The other night Tatiana made me eat seconds (typical) and when I told her I didn't want to eat too much she said "ешь, дорогая!" (yesh' dorogaya) which translates to "eat, dear!" I think it's the first warm and fuzzy thing she's said to me! I'm trying to make a real effort to chat with her more and we're becoming closer all the time <3

Fancy-plated dinner and of course Tatiana's Paris placemats!

16.  Cheddar cheese...where is it...I need it...why

17. Chunky snowflakes. Yes they exist.

18. Before coming to Russia it never even crossed my mind that it might be dirty to sit on my bed in my "street clothes", but now as soon as I get home I immediately change into house clothes and feel awkward touching anything inside while wearing my street clothes

19. It seems like Russian interviewers start off every questions with "скажите, пожалуйста" (tell, please)

20. I have noticed a strange language phenomenon. Whenever I remember back to conversations, I can never remember if I had them in Russian or English. With certain people I know I only speak Russian (my host mom, for example), but even in those cases I cannot remember exactly the words used. In English usually I can recall conversations pretty specifically- but not in Russian! It really feels like I had the conversation in English. For example: My host mom doesn't have an oven, and I asked her why. She explained that the whole apartment building was renovated two years ago, the oven she was supposed to have never got put in, and she just got used to it and forgot about it. Now, I clearly understood our conversation, I know exactly why we don't have an oven, but if I had to explain it back in Russian, I wouldn't be able to reference her Russian explanation at all! I have no idea how I can understand a conversation so well but only remember it as if it were in English...pretty frustrating, honestly

I'll leave you with this adorable kitten. One of the two who seem to spend their days hanging out in this bar on Griboedova- with Kazan Cathedral in the reflection!

Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my life and my thoughts! Leave questions and comments below))))

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