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I'm Here!

Written on: Friday January 25th, 2008

A journal entry from: B Poccuu

I?m here! We arrived at 1:30 PM local time, which is about 5:30 AM USC/GA time. I?m pretty exhausted. I think I?ve been awake for about? 28 hours. Blegh. I know I said I would write before we left? my bad. Orientation ended up being really informative and helpful?they answered practically every question I had about home stays, what to do if the police stop you, safety, etc. We also went over some key phrases.

On Wednesday we did the ACTR listening/reading/oral test that determines our base line. At the end they test us again to see our improvement. That test was IMPOSSIBLE. No joke. I felt pretty stupid, and it dragged on and on?

It?s ok, though. Getting a perfect score means native-speaker fluency, so I?m aiming for a 1ish out of 5. That?s where I?m supposed to be.

It?s strange that I?m finally here, and that I?ve already been here for about 6 hours. We walked around a bit and went to a little café type restaurant for dinner. I was sort of disappointed, because I tried to order in Russian and the girl cut me off with English. I guess I was taking too long. Oh well. I had some delicious pirogi and chai, so who cares!

The flights went pretty well. I didn?t sleep at all. The food wasn't horribly disappointing, and I actually studied a bit of Russian. The flight to St. Petersburg from Frankfurt was practically empty, so I had my entire row of seats to myself. They came around with drinks repeatedly to fill time.

Russian customs: not as scary as everyone would imagine. The lady was rude, yes, but not scary. All of my bags made it, and despite one being dropped in the mud by the bus driver they are none the worse for wear. Right now we?re staying in the dorm. I?m staying with one of the three Liza?s that we have so far on the trip. The dorms are actually really nice. Each little suite has two rooms with two beds each and a bathroom. Everything is so cute and Russian. The beds are smaller, we have a little tv set (we attempted to absorb some Russian news earlier) and really high ceilings. The bottom floor of the dorm has a café and a little convenience store, which is nice. We?ve already met some more of the staff besides our RD (who is awesome, btw) and a bunch of the people who are ?academic year? students.

The only bad thing about the dorm so far is the pillow on my bed (on everyone?s, for that matter). It?s probably the most ridiculous pillow I?ve ever seen. It?s a large square, heavy as lead and has the consistency of wet sand.

Aside from weird pillows, St. Petersburg is absolutely amazing (for all that I?ve seen so far). I kind of fell in love with it when driving into town. It looks almost like an older woman who may be fraying at the edges, but still shows hints of former glory. Yes, that building over there may have some obvious pieces of stucco missing, but it?s still grand. All the sculptures, the monuments, the soviet architecture clashing with the older, original buildings?its wonderful.

Tomorrow we have in-country orientation. We?re going on a walk around the city, finding some key places (we?ve already been shown banks and where to buy phone cards). They?ll also be doing a drop off exercise with us?they?ll leave groups of us at different parts of the city, and we have to get back using the metro. Gah! We?ll be going over maps, and meeting the host family coordinator. We also have some free time.

On Sunday, we?re checking out and going home with our host families! Exciting, I know. The next morning our host families will show us the easiest way to get back to school (the metro for me), and we?ll have placement testing. We?re also getting more AIDS tests on Monday, as St. Pete doesn?t trust our silly American versions.

Tuesday we start our class routine and find out where we?ve been placed. Wednesday is our first excursion day?hockey game! We?ll also meet our peer tutors.

I wanted to give out a quick rundown in case I don?t update for a while. <3

Oh, I found out some of the places we?re going to. We?re going to Sochi for our big 10 day trip, and there?s also an optional trip to Archangelsk (which I?ll be hitting up for sure). Woo! ?

 

From pam Keenliside on Jan 29th, 2008

And I guess Bill is paying for all of these trips. Have a great time!

From The sister to coment this 1st on Feb 16th, 2008

So. Yea Im still really bored. its still midnight and im basically going through and commenting the blogs that i havent yet. ~Hannah