Jumat, 24 Desember 2010

Build Your Own Tour!

Express to Russia offers many great and interesting tours, but one of the best features about Express to Russian's services is that you have the ability to create your own tour. This allows you to plan a trip just for you or your groups particular interests. You can chose the cities you would like to visit, the amount of time you would like to stay, and which tours/excursions you would like to go on. Another great feature is the fact that you can plan your own trip by picking and choosing what you want, and by Express to Russia will organize everything for you such as booking plane or train tickets, booking a tour, or a personal car, or translator, and anything else you might need!

Many people interested in Russian travel may get more out of their trip to Russia by creating their own itinerary rather than being confined to a standard tour. For this reason, we introduced Create Your Own Tour. By making and submitting your selections, we will calculate the cost of your tour to Russia and you will get a better idea of what interests you most.

Create a tour to Lake Baikal for example!www.expresstorussia.com
You will have the option to order and pay for the tour that you have created or to make a request if you would like to ask more questions or are not ready to pay yet. A customer service representative will reply back to you with more information on the Russian tour that you have created yourself.

The online program is easy to use, just go to the website and follow the steps.

The process takes 9 easy steps:
Select first destination
Select accommodation and add to your order
Select excursions in the particular destination you have chosen by pressing “Add Excursions”
Select airport or station transfers (if you require them) by pressing “Add Transfers”
Select train tickets (if you require them) by pressing “Add Train tickets”
Repeat for different destinations
Select visa support by pressing “Add Visa Support”
Continue on to check out
Either order and pay for tour or choose Submit Inquiry to send an inquiry and to learn more about your options.

Russia is quite big and very diverse, so there is a lot to chose from!www.expresstorussia.com
Express to Russia offers accommodation, tours, day excursions and tickets to a wide range of Russian cities (see link below for a list) as well as Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga, Kiev, Beijing and Ulan Bataar. To read more about what we offer in these cities please go to the website and click on the city link. You can find all the information here: http://www.expresstorussia.com/go_to_russia.html

Selasa, 21 Desember 2010

Russian Visas

Want to travel to Russia, but didn't know you need a Russian visa? No worries, we can assist you with getting an invitation and visa to Russia.

Express to Russia can help you obtain a Russian tourist visa or Russian business visa for your trip to Russia. The Embassies of Russia and Russian Consulates require that all foreign travelers to Russia have a Russian visa invitation in order to issue the applicant a Russian visa. Express to Russia can quickly and professionally issue this invitation for both tourist and business visas. We first issue the invitation (sometimes called a voucher) and then email it, fax it or mail it to you. Customers ordering Russian visa support will be responsible for paying the Russian Consular fees themselves and the logistics involved in getting their passports to and from the Russian Consulate. 

Check out our website for all the information you need about Russian invitations and visas. Just follow the link below the picture above. And Happy Holidays =)

Selasa, 14 Desember 2010


Welcome to the new Express to Russia blog. Here we hope to share with you new and exciting news related to our company (www.expresstorussia.com and (www.cityrealtyrussia.com), special stories and personal testimony from our clients, events and news related to travel in Russia, as well as deals and special offers. We hope you enjoy our blog, please leave comments, share with your friends, and most importantly, come visit us in Russia. We will be more than happy to assist you will all of your travel needs!

What is Express to Russia?
Express to Russia is a Western owned and managed company offering the best in Russian travel. Let us help you plan your trip to one of the most interesting, intriguing and beautiful countries in the world. Whether it is a trip on the Trans Siberian railway or a holiday in Moscow or St. Petersburg, our attention to detail and personal approach will make your trip unforgettable. Please see what past travelers have to say about our services by visiting our testimonials page.

We arrange packaged tours for individuals and groups as well as provide separate services such as Russian visa support, accommodation in Russian hotels, plane/train tickets and transfers for independent travelers who require minimal assistance. We offer the highest quality service for the lowest prices available for travel to Russia with packages and services tailored to fit any budget - ranging from inexpensive tours for the budget traveler to the height in luxury travel and accommodation.

What about City Realty Russia?
City Realty is a leading provider of vacation apartments in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Besides short term rentals we are a leading provider of long term rentals and real estate services throughout Russia. We have the largest selection of serviced apartments in Moscow and serviced apartments in St. Petersburg Russia available today. City Realty is a Western owned company with offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. 

We offer a huge selection of Moscow apartments and St. Petersburg apartments for both long and short term rental. Our Saint Petersburg apartment rental department prides itself on great customer service and finding our clients exactly what they are looking for - please take a look at our customer reviews

We are a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) ensuring our customers top travel services.

For more information please feel free to comment with questions, check out our websites www.expresstorussia.com and www.cityrealtyrussia.com for more details and specifics, and follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Express-to-Russia/114305918611645 as well as Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Express2Russia

Senin, 29 November 2010


Apologies for the lack of posts recently. My only excuse is: final year of my degree is hard. My social life now revolves around the library. As I said to one friend this week, “I’m not ignoring you but if you want to see me you’re going to have to come to the library.” So dear readers I am not ignoring you but at the moment I can only be found in the library looking like this:

However, it has been a whole month since I last wrote so I think it’s about time I gave you something new to read.

So this week apparently someone told the weather I was missing Russia and it snowed in the UK. In typical British style everyone freaked out then realised that actually 1mm of snow really wasn’t going to affect us that much. The freezing cold temperatures are getting everyone down though.

I remember this time last year in Moscow it was around -10°C and I kept thinking how it wasn’t really that cold and I wouldn’t be able to show off to everyone back home how I’d survived in freeeezing temperatures. Rookie mistake. In one weekend it plummeted to -27°C and I realised that being able to show off was not worth living in such a cold climate.

At the moment it’s about -2°C in the UK. Definitely not as cold as it is in Moscow but obviously everyone is whining about how cold it is. To be honest I am too but I am however using the cold weather to be a complete show off. If anyone dares tell me that it is cold my usual response is “Hah! This is not cold. Last year I survived -30°C.” I think I have become unbearable to everyone around me. But to all the people who are finding me annoying: I do have a point. Last Thursday it was about 1°C in Birmingham. This is what it looked like in Petrozavodsk:

Aside from the weather, one of the big things of the moment is my dissertation (or disastertation, as I have renamed it). This year I need to write a 12,000 word report on anything to do with Russia and as I enjoy writing this blog so much I decided to write a report on the Russian blogosphere. So far I am really enjoying researching it. The Russian blogosphere is soooo much more interesting than the UK’s, mainly because blogging is a lot more popular in Russia than here. However I have come across a problem: there are so many Russian blogs, I don’t know where to begin! So that is where YOU come in brilliant readers!

I know that a lot of people who read this blog are Russian and/or interested in Russia. If so I would love to hear from you if you have your own blog or if you can recommend some interesting blogs to me (по русскии!) You can email me at sez34@hotmail.com or just comment on this blog. Any suggestions would be brilliant!

OK, I think that’s enough procrastination. Back to actually doing dissertation research!

Rabu, 27 Oktober 2010

The Inevitable Next One.

Well. I knew this would happen. I have tried to resist but I just can’t help but feel the internet is lacking something without my regular blog updates so…

I’m back, by popular demand!
Yes, popular demand: In the last three months I have had numerous requests to continue blogging (at least 3 separate ones…) and even two emails from Russian people telling me how much they liked reading my blog! Reason enough to spend half an hour trying to remember my blogspot password…
I’m going to start blogging again for two main reasons:
1.Because I like being the centre of attention and blogging is an outlet for this.
2.Because something I and my fellow Russian students are learning is that as hard as you try, Russia never leaves you.

I love the UK. I love living in the UK. I love drinking water from the tap. I love it that in October I can still walk to uni wearing only two layers instead of the four I was wearing this time last year in Moscow. I love my washing machine.
I can’t shake the feeling that I am not done with Russia yet. This is the first time in four years when I haven’t had my next trip to Russia planned… and it feels weird. I know I will go back to Russia, but when? Where? How? Why? Russia isn’t the kind of country you can go to once and never feel the need to go back. When you go there you catch a bug, the Russia Bug.

I have a full blown case of the Russia bug. I get excited when I hear anything about Russia no matter how far fetched it is (today my friend told me the word for ‘wormwood’ in Ukrainian and I felt a kick of the Russia Bug). My friends and family regularly send me links and cuttings from newspapers about anything Russia – ranging from the diary of a British family who moved to Moscow to photos of two Russians who decided to dress up as cats on their wedding day (side note: this is not normal Russian behaviour).

My Russia Bug has got so bad that I’m even starting to miss living there (but don’t tell anyone – they’ll all shout at me for moaning so much when I did live there!) I miss my friends, I miss the metro and I miss Teremok.

Mmmmmm, Teremok. Fast food pancakey goodness.

I still tell people that I live in Moscow (if I know there is no chance I will ever see them again… it just makes me sound so much cooler!) So from now on I’m going to use my blog to satisfy my Russia Bug.

Vodka, Cabbage and Snow will be the Clearasil to my Russian Bug spots.

Rabu, 07 Juli 2010

The last one (before the inevitable next one)

I’ve been back in the UK for 2 weeks now and my year abroad is well and truly over. Moving back to the UK I experienced the usual culture shock that happens when moving from one country to the other, but experiencing it when moving back to your home country is a lot better. Instead of having to adjust to a new way of life I just have to settle back into my old one!

Some highlights of the last couple of weeks have been drinking water straight from the tap, taking a shower without having to first light a fire and having my washing machine back!!! Ahhh, luxury.

But obviously the best thing has been seeing my friends :D I’ve had a good 6 months of catching up to do with most of them so I’ve been on a little tour of England over the past two weeks visiting people in Birmingham, London and obviously Huddersfield! Obviously everyone has been asking me “How was Russia?” A question that I still just cannot answer. It’s hard to put a year of experience in a completely different culture into a coherent answer. So I just normally say “Russian”, which seems to satisfy most people.

I’ve not started missing anything about Russia yet as I’m actually going back (although to Ryazan not Moscow) at the end of July. I’ve already applied for my next visa so I don’t think it’s really sunk in that the year is over. I think after I get back in August I will start to miss my Russian life, but right now I am LOVING being in the UK!

So I guess this will be my last blog. Writing this blog has really been one of the highlights of my year abroad and it’s been really great to hear that so many people have enjoyed reading it! So to end this blog I will answer the question that I am being asked the most, what was the best thing about my year abroad?

For me the best thing about this year has been experiencing what it is really like to live in Russia. I’ve made some brilliant Russian friends (and I want to say a big SPASIBA especially to Vika for being the best flat mate I could ever have wanted and to Olesya for being such a great teacher and friend!), explored places I would never have been before… and learnt a little bit more Russian! Winston Churchill famously said, “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Even after living there a year, I still agree with him. That’s why I love Russia.

So do svidaniya Moskva!

Jumat, 18 Juni 2010

Sabtu, 12 Juni 2010

I’m comin’ home baby.

One week today I’m returning to the UK and my year of living in Moscow will be over. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone!!! It seems like only two minutes ago I was writing statuses like ‘12 weeks, 4 days and like 9 hours and 45 minutes or something until Sarah has left to live in Moscow.’ Now it is my friends in the year below me writing such statuses, this one was stolen from my friend Ben. (WHAT is the plural of status? Statuses? Status’? Stati?)

The journey home has already begun. There is a major ‘schools almost out for the summer’ feeling going around here… aside from the fact that everyone from Birmingham Uni has to finish writing their year abroad project in the next few weeks. The year abroad project really does get in the way of your year abroad. Surely we should be practicing our spoken Russian by DOING things in Russia, instead of being cooped up at home WRITING about it on our own? I’ll stop there before I have a major rant about it.

How do I feel about returning? GOOD. I can’t wait to come home! I can’t sleep at the moment because I’m way too excited! I am SO ready to be able to wash my clothes in a washing machine, cook food in an oven, boil water in a kettle AND drink water straight from the tap! For the first week it will be the little things that will make me smile.

Oh yeah, and it’ll be nice to see my friends too. Not like I missed them or anything…

On the other hand, I know I’m going to miss my life in Moscow… eventually. Although right now I’m trying to think of what I’m going to miss and I really can’t think of anything! Sushi probably. Yeah, I’ll miss sushi.

This year has had some major lows, but with every low there has been a bigger high. It’s been hard but has made me realise that I can do anything! I think ‘surviving living in Russia’ will be at the top of my CV from now on. But now it’s definitely time to live in the UK again. I can’t believe I’ve actually (nearly) done it!


Selasa, 08 Juni 2010

The Sofa Bed Trend.

From my previous blogs you could be forgiven for thinking that all Russians are cold, heartless and scary. This is mainly because most of my encounters with Russians that are worth blogging about are normally negative ones, ie. When I make stupid language mistakes in shops/on the street/on the metro/at school/in cafes etc etc. So it’s about time I gave a little bit of love back and shouted from the rooftops:


Yes you may not smile at me on the metro, yes you may laugh at me when I try to talk to you, yes you can’t understand why I sit on the floor without the fear of infertility but Russians… I love you!

I have to say that I think Russian people are the best hosts I have ever encountered! For a start literally every flat in Russia has at least 1 (if not 2 or 3) sofa beds so that guests will always be welcome to stay over. The UK really should take this on board – sofa beds are the best! (On the other hand Russia should take on board that a sofa bed is Not.A.Bed. After sleeping on an uneven bed for a year I have come to the conclusion they should only be for guests.)

As well as this I can guarantee that on every table in every Russian flat will be a dish of biscuits and sweets ready for guests. Whenever I visit my lovely friends Lyudmila and Olga in Petrozavodsk their table is full of treats for their guests!

Oh and the food! Going to a Russian house for dinner means you will be fed. Fed well. Russians seem to feed me until I say “STOP”. The first time I lived in Russia for a long period of time I didn’t know how to say “I’m full.” In fact I pretty much only knew how to say “Yes”. I think I put on about 10 stone in a month.

So to my lovely Russian friends, thank you for being so welcoming!
Oh, and to my friends in the UK, if you live in Birmingham or London I will probably want to stay with you at some point over the summer… I expect a sofa bed and sweeties.

Jumat, 04 Juni 2010

Another reason to dislike Stalin:

Pukh. (No, I’m not swearing at you in Russian.)

Recently in the land of mad (Russia) a strange mystical dust-like material has been falling from the sky. At first I just thought it was blossom from the trees near my flat, but then I began to realise it was EVERYWHERE. Literally everywhere… outside my flat, in the parks, near Red Square, at my school etc etc. Moscow is once again covered in a white sheet… but this time it’s not snow, it’s pukh.
Here's a picture of my street this morning:

So what is pukh and why is it falling on Moscow? Well, many years ago when Stalin was in power he decided that Moscow wasn’t green enough so he planted (well he himself probably didn’t plant them!) hundreds and hundreds of poplar trees, not realising that poplar’s have sex lives – every female needs a male. If you plant too many females the males can’t fertilise them… which is what he did. Another brilliant plan from Stalin. So now every June the female poplars release unfertilised seeds: pukh.

It seriously looks and feels like it’s snowing again. And it gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE. My ears, my mouth, my nose, my eyes: I have to walk everywhere with my head down because if I look up the pukh gets stuck to my mascara and I’m temporarily blinded. My skin has erupted into spots because of the irritation from it. So right now I’m looking very sexy… spotty, blind and coughing. Hawt.

Worst of all, there is nowhere to escape the pukh! Open a window and the room will immediately turn into a wonderland of flying pukh. As at the moment it is around 25ºC everyday we have a choice: boil to death inside or put up with the pukh.

I hope it pukh’s off soon. (Ooooh apologises for that terrible, terrible joke.)

Rabu, 02 Juni 2010

Getting married: Russian style.

Do not be alarmed parents! I haven’t given in to any mullet-ed suitors and decided to marry into a Russian family, but over the last couple of weeks the subject of weddings has cropped up many a time. Mainly because my friend Sinead is writing a project on Russian women and so we have been finding out a LOT about the importance of being married in Russian society.

In Russia being married is a lot more important than being married in the UK. In fact recently there was a ‘bride parade’ in Moscow to promote marriage over cohabitation. Both married and unmarried women took part and one participant was quoted in one of the papers saying, “I’m not married yet, but I hope to find a man today.” Crazy.

Anyone that says I am too worried about marriage, think again. At least I do not parade around dressed as a bride looking for a bridegroom!! Good idea though…

Anyway, yes marriage is important and most Russians get married a lot younger than their Western counterparts. So what goes on in a traditional Russian wedding?

Like most weddings it starts with a ceremony at a church or registration office to actually make the marriage legal! These are usually a lot shorter than ceremonies in the West and the bride doesn’t have bridesmaids (sorry Vicky, Lianne, Katie, Sinead, Anabelle, Clare and Emily – no part for you), just one witness (so my girls will have to fight it out for this special position).

After the ceremony the real fun begins. The wedding party tour around their hometown taking photos at all their favourite sights… every Saturday Red Square is literally FULL of brides. Some brides are dressed beautifully and taking elegant pictures. Most however (we are in Russia) are not dressed so well. Here are some examples of some STUNNING wedding photos:

One of the sweetest traditions of a Russian wedding is that the couple place a padlock somewhere in the city.

Usually the couple engrave their names and their wedding date onto the lock:

Some however prefer to just make sure their marriage will last:

Russia really is cheesy gestures central so couples also like to release a dove on their wedding day...

For the final part of the wedding is the reception, involving lots of caviar and vodka. Meaning lots of ‘interesting’ entertainment from the guests.

So will I be having a Russian style wedding? I think not. Mainly because there are no famous sights in Huddersfield... but also because I am way too scared of birds to be able to release a dove.

Senin, 17 Mei 2010

Real Life in Real Russia.

Throughout the year many second years on my Russian course in Birmingham have been emailing me with questions about the year abroad. So I thought I’d write a blog where I would answer as many of them as possible. I’m sure the teachers at university are doing their best to scare you about your year abroad. I hope this will put your minds at rest!

And if you’re not going to do a year abroad in Russia I hope you will find this blog about normal Russian life mildly interesting!

The Cold and Clothes.
To state the obvious: in Russia from around mid October to March it is cold. Very very cold (- but on the plus side from around May onwards it’s boiling! Summer is here!) So how do you deal with the cold? LAYERS. My biggest piece of advice is to buy some good boots (I bought mine from New Look in Moscow), a good coat and good hats, gloves and socks. But the most important things to pack are layers!! For the girls my advice is to go to Dorothy Perkins/ New Look/ Topshop (basically any clothes shop) and stock up on all those ‘3 t shirts for a tenner’ offers. Works a treat AND my ‘colourful layered’ style was complimented on more than one occasion. Win win. Oh and for the period when it is getting cold but the metro is still boiling I recommend zip up hoodies/jackets under your coat (easier to strip off in the metro).

Living with a hoz (landlady).
Only those who have lived with a hoz before can truly understand what this is like! It’s a very Russian thing to live with a (normally old and crazy!) landlady instead of finding your own flat. At first it is annoying and feels like you’ve moved back in with your parents again but I would advise everyone to see your hoz as a GREAT way to practise your Russian! Yes they might have some crazy Russian traditions that they want to make you take part in but just see it as all part of the experience! Think about the stories you will be able to scare the first years with when you get back ;)

Mobile sim cards.
You can buy Russian sim cards for around 150 rubles and you top them up using top up machines on the street. Easy peasy. I’d advise you to all take an old unlocked phone to use in Russia, you can take a nice phone if you really want but my beautiful Blackberry is at home (… and I miss it so!)

The internet.
To us students, unlimited access to facebook is important. For those of you who are living in Moscow or St Pete do not fear! You SHALL have the internet! (Said the facebook fairy godmother). Fortunately my flat already had wifi in it. If you are not as lucky then I recommend Yota internet – it’s a usb stick that you plug into your laptop so you can have the internet everywhere! You top it up every month using the top up machines on the street like your mobile. Also near the school in Moscow there is an internet café, Macdonalds with free wifi and apparently a library with free internet nearby (but I’ve never found it!)
For those going to Yaroslavl… I hear there’s a nice Chinese restaurant that has free wifi….

What to do when you get there!
When you get to Russia you will most likely be picked up from the airport and taken to your flats (well that’s what they did with us this year). In Moscow (and I assume in all the other places) you go to school the very next day. I think this is good because you’re busy straight away and can start adjusting to living in this crazy country!

Well I hope all that helps! My biggest piece of advice though is to just ENJOY IT! The year abroad is hard and you WILL have low points. I try to always remember what an amazing opportunity it is to be able to study in a foreign country… that normally stops me moaning for about 5 minutes! I also can’t stress enough how important it is to try and find Russian friends (something I have to say I have been pretty rubbish at.) Speaking Russian with people you feel comfortable around is the best way to improve – I’m fortunate enough to have a lovely flatmate who helps me improve my Russian so much! So if you’re not as fortunate as me go out and meet some friends… bars are a good place to start, after a couple of drinks your Russian will be ‘amazing’. To you at least.

Senin, 03 Mei 2010

A Confession from an Emotional Wreck.

All those who know me know that I am at times, slightly overemotional. Something I don’t apologise for because emotions are only natural! Over the past few weeks my emotions have however overtaken me and it is time to publish them to the whole world (well, whoever reads this). Sorry it’s taken so long for me to write recently, I just needed to make sure I was in a place where I could write exactly what I was feeling!

So. A warning. This blog IS going to contain my emotions and will probably be a bit more serious than recent blogs. So stop reading now if that is going to annoy you.

The last few weeks have centred around two main things: The Marie Claire Incident and Writing my Project. So I’ll explain them both and then explain how they got me where I am now…

The Marie Claire Incident.
As I have written about before in my blog I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was about 10 years old. Being in Russia made me realise how much I missed being involved in the student newspaper at Birmingham and this made me want to go for this dream even more.

Over Christmas I applied for loads of internships at magazines all over the UK and a few weeks ago I got an email from Marie Claire offering me an interview for a one month internship. I don’t think my landlady has ever heard me scream so loud! But then a problem arose: the internship started 3 weeks before my course in Russia ended. ARGH. As this course doesn’t count towards my actual degree I didn’t think it would be much of a problem to leave just 3 weeks early (especially as I am came back to Russia 2 weeks early and I’m coming back for 2 weeks over the summer!) However after a major discussion between me and my university in Birmingham I was told that I couldn’t leave early because I do single honours Russian… and I had to say no to Marie Claire.

This was probably the lowest I’ve felt so far in Russia. I was so upset that yet again Russia was getting in the way of me doing something I love. As I think I’ve said before I’ve always had a huge feeling that in my life I have to choose between Russia (and charity work) and journalism. People always point out to me that I can do both but I’m not sure that I can. This whole incident made me believe that more and I just felt like giving up on the whole Russian thing and instead doing something that I love and something that I think I am actually good at!

However, I am just not enough of a rebel to ever drop out of university so I just carried on going to school here but hating every day of it. Then I had to continue…

Writing my Project.
This year the only way I am assessed by Birmingham University is by writing a 6,000 word project. In Russian… aka my worst nightmare.

My project is about orphanages in Russia and whether conditions in them have improved over the last 10 years, something that was obviously a passion of mine when I started my degree. But throughout this year I’ve been concentrating more and more on how I want to become a journalist and less and less on why I started studying Russian: to help orphans in Russia. So writing this project has become even harder.

As I started reading and researching for this project the magnitude of the problem with orphanages in Russia came back to me. I don’t want to write it all out here but in the most basic terms: It is believed there are 4 million orphans in Russia. Around 800,000-1,000,000 are in orphanages and the rest… who knows where they are. Obviously growing up in institutions is no way for a child to be brought up so foster care or adoption would be a much better option. There are hardly any foster care or adoption schemes in Russia therefore most orphans can only hope to be adopted from abroad and if you’ve been reading the news recently you will have seen that Russia has suspended adoption from America (and potentially other countries). So basically: it’s a big mess.

Many times whilst I was reading or watching videos I was brought to tears. I defy anyone to YouTube ‘Russian orphans’ and not cry. It started me thinking about whether journalism was the right route for me or whether I should start thinking seriously again about charity work.

So after these 2 events my head kind of exploded and I had a mini meltdown trying to figure out just who I am. When I was younger I wanted to be a journalist because I thought by the time I was 21 I would be this glamorous woman. Well, yesterday I tried to walk in heels for 2 hours and my feet started bleeding. I am not glamorous.
But what I do know about myself is that I know how to care and I know how to love. The media industry is not based on care and love. So is this where I really want to be? Should I be spending my whole summer trying to get experience in the media industry or should I be trying to get my Russian to a level that is acceptable for final year? I still think my Russian is terrible.

And this is probably where I should end this blog. Living in Russia has really made me think so hard about who I really am and what I should really be doing with my life. If you can help please send your answers on a postcard to: Sarah, Moscow. Thanks. I guess living abroad for a year anywhere forces you to try and put your life back home into perspective: be warned second years!

Selasa, 20 April 2010

Escape from Russia.

After being stranded in Russia for an extra 3 days the Brier family have finally left. On a train.

After our return to Moscow it soon became apparent that flights were not going to start for at least another couple of days and my family did really need to get home. My brother has exams soon, my parents have jobs to do and my sister only has 4 months of lazing around left before she starts university! My friend Alison was also visiting Moscow and she REALLY needed to return – she has to sit her finals in a few weeks! So we decided to book a train.

On Saturday Alison and I went to the train station to ‘assess the situation’. Good thing we did because it was total chaos. All the trains to Europe were getting booked up and all the boards had messages saying ‘NO SPACES’ to all the major cities in Europe. Argh. We didn’t have any kind of concrete plan so we decided to discuss with my parents what would be the best thing to do and come back the next morning to buy the best tickets.

Sunday morning, 8am, we go to the train station. Alison (who has perfect Russian) asks the woman at the desk, “We need tickets to anywhere in Europe as soon as possible.” The woman smirks. After around half an hour of debating (and being filmed by the Russian news… we made our TV debut that night) what to do, 5 tickets to Warsaw (Poland) for Monday were purchased. I was amazed we actually managed to get tickets for the next day!

The next problem was how to get from Poland to the UK. After an afternoon of internet research we had organised a night in a hostel and then a coach and ferry back to the UK. Then a speedy trip to an internet café, the tickets were printed and everyone let out a huge sigh of relief that they were actually going to get home - even though it was going to take 3 days. Here is their travel plan:

Yesterday (Monday) they left Moscow at 5pm and got a train to Warsaw where they arrived at 3pm today (Tuesday).

Here’s a little map for those of you (who have geography as terrible as mine) and who don’t know where Poland is. Apologises for the child-like circles around Moscow and Warsaw.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) they will leave Warsaw at 10.45am on a coach (!) cross Europe, get a ferry across the channel, get back on the coach and arrive in London on Thursday lunchtime, a mere 68 hours after setting off.

Not sure how happy my sister and brother (who are 18 and 17) are about this. Obviously they want to get home but I think being stuck in a confined space with the parents for 68 hours may be the end of their relationship. At least they have a new friend Alison to talk to! I have to say (facebook status rants aside) they have been very good about it all.

Mum and Dad however, are loving their adventure across Europe! As Dad said, they’d always wanted to do it – they just wish it was their choice! They have handled the situation really well – for a change I was the one stressing and panicking. They were totally fine!

This whole experience was very odd for me. Normally I’m trying to get INTO Russia and moaning about how annoying it is to have to get a visa. Now I’ve seen all the problems when trying to get OUT OF Russia.

For example, major problem number 1 was that to get a train from Moscow to most European cities you need to go through Belarus, and therefore need a Belarusian transit visa (fortunately because of the situation this rule has been relaxed… although we didn’t know this until Sunday because literally every visa office is closed at the weekend. Even the British Embassy. Helpful).

Then major problem number 2 was that it is impossible to pay by card in most train stations in Russia, so we needed to buy 5 train tickets… with cash. This meant a lot of transferring money to every account we could (my bank account has never looked so healthy – have to keep reminding myself it’s my parents money!), getting out as much money as our cards would let us, 3 cards being stopped by banks in the UK (shame on you NatWest and HSBC – when I am actually being frauded I KNOW you will not pick up on it) and then finally being able to purchase the tickets.

A stressful couple of days but finally they’re on their way home. At the station they were (hilariously) filmed and interviewed by CNN (TV appearance number 2). Annoyingly they only talked to my family and not me! I was all ready to be interviewed but they only talked to Dad aka the worlds most terrified of public speaking man. I was like TALK TO ME! I'M the one who wants to be a journalist! Then they filmed us walking down the platform and saying goodbye (hopefully not catching the fact that I was, as usual when saying goodbye, in tears). I bet everyone on the train thought they were celebrities. Naturally I asked for the correspondent’s card… There’s nothing like a crisis to try and help further my journalistic career.

Jumat, 16 April 2010

Bow in awe at the brilliance of SAPSAN.

As I'm sure you all know (apart from those of you that haven't been watching the news this week...) a massive volcano has erupted in Iceland and volcanic ash has spread itself across Europe, grounding all flights and testing my patience to the limit.

Massive cloud of stupid ash.

When I hear reports about these kinds of holiday ruining disasters I'm always so glad it's not me. Apart from when I once had to survive a week in Russia without my bag because of the terminal 5 cock up (which to be honest hardly affected me - I had everything I needed) this kind of thing NEVER happen to me. My family however are a different matter. They don't seem to go well with planes. We never went on holidays far enough away to warrant getting a plane so my first experience on a flight was aged 16 on a short flight to Italy. Although the flight was fine all I can remember about it was the immense stress and panic at the airport (from me not mum, for a change). The next plane journey the family Brier embarked on was another short flight to France which I didn't join them on as I was working/fed up of family holidays. Because of my dads (true Yorkshire man) love of anything cheap they were on a cheap airline – the kind where you have to run to find a seat. In the mad rush mum managed to really hurt her knee, ending with her on crutches for the entire holiday. Now on their third flight, they have managed to choose the same time to fly as a volcano chose to erupt. They are NOT good with planes. And now they're stuck in Russia.

This morning we woke up in St Petersburg to find out that their flight home has been cancelled. As there is only 1 flight to London per day from St Petersburg and 5 per day from Moscow, we made the decision to return to Moscow where the likeliness of them getting a flight home soon is a lot higher! So after a quick rush to the train station (and a major test of my Russian - ask anyone who has [tried] to purchase train tickets in Russia. DIFFICULT.) I successfully managed to get us 5 tickets on the fast train to Moscow. The only problem being that we were all in different carriages as it was so last minute. But I assured them it would all be fine as the train would be just like an English one (I hoped)... and I was secretly bursting with joy at the prospect of 4 hours of peace away from them!

The fast train is a relatively new concept to Russia. It's only been around a couple of years max. Russia is more a fan of trains that are so slow you could walk faster than them and that take around 9 hours to do a journey that should clearly only take 4 hours. But not anymore with the arrival of SAPSAN...

Marvel at it's spaceship like glory.

FINALLY Russia is catching up with the rest of the world. I nearly cried with glee when I saw that is actually WAS like a virgin train (... and was relieved I had not lied to my family). After making sure they were all in their carriages safe and sound I spent the first half an hour making sure we had an apartment for when we arrived in Moscow and checking whether their visas needed extending. After sorting all that out I sat back and enjoyed one of the best train journeys I've ever had in Russia. The seats were comfortable, the carriages light and airy... and the toilets hygienic!!! I read British Cosmopolitan (a present from mum) and for those 4 hours I almost believed I was on a virgin train from Manchester Piccadilly to Birmingham New Street... until we arrived in Moscow on time (a sure sign it was definitely not a virgin train).

So now my family are stuck in Moscow and as all flights tomorrow have been cancelled I don't know when on earth they're going to leave me in peace!! I think they're all a bit fed up of being stuck in Russia, so I keep pointing out that I am 'stuck' in Russia until the end of June... so a couple more days for them really isn't that bad. I hope they get a flight soon though, 10 days is enough family time for me. So let's pray that flights start soon... and in the meantime bow in awe at the brilliance of SAPSAN.

Sabtu, 10 April 2010

This huge, dumb land.

Another day with the family, another day of pretending to be a tourist in the city I live in. Today we went on a visit to The Kremlin. I should start charging for my tour guide services - I will have visited there 4 times by the time I leave Russia…

…Although I should probably credit Rough Guides for all my knowledge.

After Red Square, The Kremlin is Moscow’s biggest tourist attraction. In Russian ‘kreml’ means fortress so I think most people (or maybe just my parents) imagine it to be very military based and are quite surprised by what it actually is - a load of cathedrals in a square, a museum and a little park.

The Cathedrals are all very nice and ornate but I have the belief that once you’ve seen one Russian Cathedral you’ve seen them all. There are only so many icons of Jesus I can take.

My favourite part of The Kremlin is the Armoury Palace. In here you can see the thrones, carriages and clothes of Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great and other Russian Tsars. As a girl who still dreams of one day being a Princess (Sarah means Princess… it WILL happen) I love anything to do with Royal Families. Especially dresses and carriages.

Two of the most famous sights of the Kremlin are The Tsar Bell and Cannon, the largest bell and cannon in the world.

Stupidly, because they’re so big the cannon has never actually been used to fire anything and the bell fell down as soon as it was hung, which brings me to one of my favourite quotes about Moscow, a nice ending to this post:

“in Moscow every foreigner is taken to look at the great cannon and the great ball – the cannon which cannot be fired and the bell which fell down before it was rung. It is an amazing town in which the objects of interest are distinguished by their absurdity, or perhaps that great bell without a tongue is a hieroglyph symbolic of this huge, dumb land.”
- Pyotr Chaadaev, a nineteenth century dissident.

Jumat, 09 April 2010

“Even Town play better than this”

Throughout Russia’s vivid history the country has faced many challenges, but on Tuesday 6th April it faced one of the biggest yet. The Briers landed in Moscow.

After their initial fears (which ranged from the understandable – sorting out their visas, to the completely insane – mum’s worries over whether she would be able to buy milk and eggs) I think they’ve decided Russia isn’t as bad as they thought.

Anyway, this blog isn’t going to be a detailed account of the first three days of The Briers adventures (sorry Brier fans, below is a picture to satisfy your Brier needs) but instead will focus on football and camels.

The Briers on Red Square - two of my worlds colliding

On the day they arrived the quarter finals of the Champions League took place in Moscow (CSKA vs Inter Milan). My dad is an avid football fan. I am an avid football hater. He asked if we could get tickets and as it had been his birthday the day before I thought I should probably sacrifice 2 hours of my life to watch the stupid game. In the end I had to sacrifice 5 hours of my life because it took me 2 hours to find somewhere to buy the stupid tickets then 1 hour queuing outside the stadium to watch the stupid game. As you may be able to tell, I think football is stupid.

However as I am a model daughter I got the tickets and took dad to the match. In the end the game was quite dull and CSKA played pretty badly. After 6 minutes Inter Milan had scored a goal and (according to Dad) this meant the game was pretty much over for CSKA (apparently they needed to score 2 extra goals or something? He explained it to me about 3 times but, I have to confess, my brain just switches off when people talk about football and I fly away into a world where men kicking glorified sacks of air around a field is not important). I think CSKA really lost when they missed a penalty and Dad announced: “Even Town play better than this”, they might as well have just left the field there and then. Apparently the game was worth it though because it meant Dad got some use out of his Christmas present from me…

Wearing his scarf with pride. A true Muscovite after just 2 hours in the country.

In other news today we went to a space museum and saw a camel in a park next to it. Sometimes Russia renders me completely speechless (a difficult task) with its immense madness. I think my family finally understand what I mean when I talk about how crazy Russia is.

Jumat, 02 April 2010

I think it was a bit premature for the canvas pumps.

So after the horrible beginning of the week, it’s time for some good news... Spring is here!!! This week it has been slowly getting warmer and today was finally the time to celebrate, I awoke to gorgeous sunshine and a view with no snow in it. I jumped out of bed and did a dance of joy.

Today it was 12-15ºC so we decided to go to Tsaritsyno (Catherine the Great’s estate that I blogged about way back in September).

Before we could go there was one big issue on my mind… What shoes to wear? I had my outfit planned… thinner tights, dress, shirt and jacket (layering = the answer to all Russian wardrobe problems). BUT the footwear is the biggest essential of any outfit. For the past month I’ve been wearing my boots (which clash with every outfit)… was today the day I could finally be free of them and wear my canvas pumps?! The snow has melted away, the puddles are gone and the sun is shining. I decided to go for it.

It was a mistake. I forgot that the reason all the snow has disappeared from the street is because there are people employed to clear it. Parks are a different matter. My bad shoe choice resulted in a lot of attempting to avoid puddles.

Nevertheless a fun day was had by all. The park was beautiful, the weather gorgeous and we all got a bit snap happy with Toby’s snazzy camera... or I kept pestering Toby to take pictures of me.

However this blog has probably jinxed it and tomorrow it will be freezing again… but in the meantime lets all do a dance of joy to this:

Selasa, 30 Maret 2010

Moscow is grieving

Yesterday morning two bombs were set off on the metro at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations killing 39 people and injuring over 70.

It happened early in the morning, way before me and my friends would have been taking the metro so we are all fine. Fortunately my friend texted me to tell me about it so I managed to text my family and put on facebook that I was ok before my friends and family saw the news. I can’t imagine the panic that went through my family and friends’ minds before they saw on facebook that I was ok. I was overwhelmed by the amount of texts I got from people checking I was ok, it’s lovely to know you’re all thinking about me.

Yesterday the embassy advised us not to get the metro so I was forced to stay in my house all day. This meant that the situation didn’t really hit me. I didn’t really think about what had happened because I think I’ve always seen Moscow as quite a dangerous city and I don’t think I was very surprised that this had happened.

But as I watched the news and saw images of the metro stations it really brought it home that this had happened in MY Moscow. Even though I sometimes find it hard living here Moscow is one of ‘my cities’ now. Huddersfield, Birmingham and Moscow – that’s where I live! I regularly go through Lubyanka and Park Kultury and seeing images of the explosions made me feel so protective of MY city!

As you all know I am way too politically ignorant to understand who did these attacks and why (one of my major downfalls that I really should address!). At the moment it appears officials are blaming the attacks on militants from the North Caucasus. Anabelle explained to me today that these attacks are significant because Russia felt like they were getting out of a time of terrorist attacks in Moscow (the last attack happened in 2004), but now people are having to question whether they are over or whether they are an ongoing threat.

Today I took the metro to meet Anabelle and I have to say, I was really scared. I’ve never felt unsafe on the metro before but today I really was worried. I noticed that others around me were also acting differently. No-one was listening to music or reading, everyone seemed a lot more alert. Announcements regularly came through speakers reminding everyone to stay alert and the words ‘Moscow is grieving’ were on screens on every station. My train had to go through Lubyanka and when we stopped on the platform everyone went silent. It was incredibly eerie, but felt like an apt sign of respect.

Anabelle and I went for lunch and a bit of a walk but were both quite tired so decided to go home after a couple of hours. We both had to pass through Lubyanka so we decided to get off to go and see the flowers that had been laid there (and I think we both silently wanted to go and somehow show our respects to what had happened there). We got onto the platform and even though it was full of people it was almost silent, apart from the sound of people sobbing. The platform is already filling with flowers and candles. I got quite emotional, especially as it really hit me that this had happened in MY Moscow, not in the scary/comedy Moscow that I describe in my blog but in the city that I live in.

The metro may have felt different today but I’m sure in time it will feel normal again. Moscow has not stopped and neither will the people who live here.

Today is a day of mourning, so let’s remember the 39 innocent people who will never return home and the 70 who were injured.

Selasa, 23 Maret 2010

Birthday wishes: An embarrassing ordeal.

Yesterday was my 21st birthday. I celebrated in England back in February with my family and friends so I didn’t really do much yesterday. But it did offer me a little insight into a Russian birthday.

Observation number 1: ‘Happy Birthday’ is not enough. In Russian there is a phrase for Happy Birthday but after it has been said it is normal for your friends to ‘wish you’ lots of things. For example, ‘Happy Birthday Sarah, I wish you happiness, I wish you love, I wish you success, I wish you health, I wish you to have money and I wish you friendship. It’s very nice for people to ‘wish me’ these things but it gets a little embarrassing when I have to stand there for 5 minutes continually saying Spasiba (thank you). A simple Happy Birthday will do for me.

Observation number 2: If you’re a woman, you will get an abundance of flowers. It’s common for women to receive flowers on their birthday, something that I had forgotten about until yesterday. Now I have a small garden on my desk. I love being given flowers though! They’re pretty, they smell nice and they look beautiful… what’s not to like? Oh and in Russia if you go to a restaurant and you have flowers they put them in a vase for you on the table. I was VERY excited that I finally got a chance to do this on my birthday lunch!

But alas my birthday is over and it’s just dawned on me that I am officially in my 20s. I had expected by this stage in my life that my career as a popstar would have really taken off. Britney Spears had released 3 albums by the time she was my age… I must catch up.

Kamis, 18 Maret 2010

The Change Issue.

I’ve just realised I have not blogged about one of the most fascinating points of Russian life. This is (drum roll please)…. Giving the correct change in shops.

This was first brought to my attention 2 years ago when I studied in Petrozavodsk. Back then I spoke little Russian and so whenever I went to pay for something in the supermarket I could not comprehend why exactly they were shouting ‘2 ROUBLES’ at me. After spending 6 months in Moscow I have finally learnt: Paying with incorrect change is a crime punishable by death. Almost.

A few days ago I tried to pay for something that cost 250 roubles (£5) with a 1000 rouble (£20) note. The cashier looked at me like I had just eaten her child and just said a long, harsh ‘No.’ Why? Because she had no change.

Shops appear to take the change out of their tills as soon as they receive it. No idea why, that’s just the way it seems to work. But this means that every time I need to pay for something with a dreaded 1000 rouble (£20) note I must make sure I have all the little bits of change they will need to willingly hand over the change I am owed. For example if I buy something that costs 217 roubles I MUST give 1017 roubles, or there is no way I am going to be able to pay.

At first this was just another ‘hilarious’ Russian thing, it then turned into a massive hassle every time I went food shopping. I’ve now taken to carrying 2 purses… one for notes and one for change, which has led to my new favourite game: paying for everything in coins. Today I spent 50 roubles on some food and handed over ten 5 rouble coins to the cashier. She looked at me like she wanted to kill, but could not tell me off as I was paying with the correct change. HA. Take that stupid Russian change system.

Minggu, 14 Maret 2010

Nothing interesting happened this week. But I saw some nice photos.

The longer I live in Moscow the harder it is to blog. I feel that just retelling my day to day activities would be extremely dull for you all to read. Since I’ve been back I’ve basically… been to lessons and hung out with my friends. Not an epic difference to life in England. Although yesterday I was at a café near Red Square and Lenin and Stalin walked past the window. That made me LOL.

My lessons have got more interesting this term. Although I enjoyed my lessons last term I felt a bit put out that the higher groups got to study history, literature and the media, but this term I think my group have finally proved that we have moved on from nursery standard Russian and we are allowed to study the grown up subjects! Yay! But more subjects = more teachers = more homework. Boo.

My mission of getting the most I can out of Moscow in these few last months is ongoing. I went with Toby (my friend from Birmingham who has just moved to Moscow) to see the Picasso exhibition at the Pushkin Arts Museum last week. This year many exhibitions and concerts are taking place throughout Russia to celebrate ‘The Year of France in Russia’. I thought the exhibition would just be a couple of pictures, nothing special, but it was huge! Apparently it’s the biggest collection of Picasso’s work in Russia in over 50 years… no wonder it took us 2 hours to get round it all! We couldn’t take photos so I’ve found you a nice picture of the Presidents wife having a look…

Today Anabelle, Sinead (another Birmingham friend who has just moved to Moscow) and me went to see another exhibition in a clearly VERY cool art warehouse/gallery type place (Birmingham peeps – imagine The Custard Factory. Only cooler.). The exhibition was a collection of photos from a competition called ‘The Best of Russia’. The competition ran for a year in 2008 and Russian photographers (both professional and non professional) entered photos of the image that best described Russia to them. Here’s a few of the winners:

It was interesting to see Russian peoples’ interpretation of their country. A lot of the time I felt the photos (although very good pictures) could be from any country and weren’t particularly “Russian”, but then... I am English, so cannot judge. I wonder what photo I would take if I wanted to show my view of Russia? Probably the guys who dress up as Stalin and Lenin sitting on the metro… holding Russian dolls, soup and pancakes.

And on a different note, I have started my fundraising to be able to do some work with Love Russia in the summer. Being in Moscow is making it a lot harder as having cake sales are pretty impossible… and being sponsored to speak Russian for a day is a bit… pointless! SO this year my theme is Dress Me For Charity!
On this blog: www.dressmeforcharity.wordpress.com - you will find pictures of every single item of clothing I have in Moscow with a number and a description.
From this you can build me an outfit and then sponsor me to wear it for a day!
The sponsor form is at - www.justgiving.com/dressmeforcharity so when you donate money just write your clothes selection in the comments box.
You can check on the blog or the facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=393784670624) to see pictures of me wearing the outfits.
This is probably the craziest idea I’ve had to raise money so please get involved!

Jumat, 05 Maret 2010

We didn’t go to the cat theatre.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last wrote. What with all my travelling and then settling back into Moscow I appear to have abandoned my blog.. but never fear! I am back… and to make up for my disappearance I have written you all an essay… (I promise the next one will be shorter!)…

Well Simon’s Russian adventure is over and even though we never actually got around to visiting the cat theatre (we opted for the Bolshoy instead) I think he had fun.

Here are a few highlights from our trip:

First we flew out to Moscow and I had lots of fun showing Simon around my ‘hud. It was great to be in Moscow with someone who had never been before because I could relive that ‘oh wow… I’m in Moscow!’ feeling. We also did lots of touristy things that I’d never done before like visit the Tretyakov gallery, the Kremlin and the Armoury museum. We watched an opera at the Bolshoy (in Italian with Russian subtitles. Potentially, Simon could not enjoy this as much as me.) As well as being super cultured we tried to fool the Muscovites into thinking we were one of them… i.e. we went ice skating at Gorky Park (I don’t think we fooled them. Our wobbly skating and typical English laughter has no-one convinced).

Clearly tourists.

Simon's excitement at RED SQUARE!!!

My happiness at being reuinted with SUSHI.

From Moscow we got a fourteen hour train to Petrozavodsk, a city in the north of Russia where I studied for a month last summer. The train ride was a lot better than last time and the ‘top bunk debacle’, Simon was the man and took the top bunk so no arguments with scary Russian men was necessary.

Last time I was in Petrozavodsk it was boiling hot and it never got dark (the white nights of the summer). This time it was -30 and very dark. Love the Russian winter. Not. It was however lovely to be back and especially to see the people I stayed with last year – Lyudmila and her daughter Olga. It was so nice to actually be able to properly communicate with them in Russian! Last year my Russian was so bad we normally resorted to drawing pictures of what we were trying to say to each other but now we could finally properly have a conversation. Phew. So glad I have actually progressed in the last year and a half.

From Petrozavodsk we took another overnight train to St Petersburg and Simon proved that he did learn something from his dissertation on chivalry because he once again took the top bunk.

In St Petersburg we were mega tourists. Day 1 was spent at the Peter and Paul Fortress where Simon spent much of the day enlightening me on Russian history. Day 2 was spent in one of my favourite places in Russia – The Hermitage. There’s so much to see there that it’s been said it will take you 9 years just to glance at everything! As I’ve been before I let Simon choose where we went, although I did make sure we went to see one of my favourite pieces. Picasso’s Violin and Guitar, which I based my GCSE art project on

The final part of our trip took us out of Russia and into Finland. We took a 6 hour train ride from St Petersburg to Helsinki, which at first I thought was a ridiculous amount of time to be sat on a seat for… until my mum pointed out that it’s actually just the same as travelling from Huddersfield to Cornwall. And we amused ourselves by continuing our epic Uno tournament (which I won. Just so you all know.)

We spent 3 days in Helsinki which is probably one of my favourite places in the world. After being used to the busyness of Moscow and St Petersburg we both felt like we’d entered a ghost town when we got there. There was just no-one on the streets. I loved it! The highlight of Helsinki (apart from the obvious BREAKFAST BUFFET… my two favourite words) was visiting Suomenlinna fortress. The fortress is on a beautiful island that’s just a 15 minute boat ride from Helsinki harbour. It was one of those places that just took my breath away with its beauty. As it was winter the island was covered in snow and even the sea was frozen. Climbing through the snow as high as we could go was so much fun!

But all good things have to come to an end and after Helsinki I had to go back to Moscow and Simon flew back to England. I thought having a friend visit at the beginning of term was a good idea because it gave me an incentive to go back… and I was right, I was really excited about our trip… I just forgot to think about the end of it. Flying back to Moscow on my own was NOT FUN. All I could think about was how my holidays were over, how I had to return to a place where everything was just that little bit more difficult than in the UK and how it was going to be 4 months until I could eat hummus again.

In the spirit of this being an honest blog, I’m not gonna lie – the first week back was awful. Everyday I woke up, realised I was in Moscow and attempted to go back to the dream I had been having in England. Going back to school meant returning to reality, returning to being exhausted after non stop concentration and returning to HOMEWORK. Eurgh. I missed my friends as soon as I got here unlike last time when I was too excited to think about home too much. So basically, I was sad. Very sad.


Now the first week hurdle is over. And I feel better. Missing my friends is still a big issue, but one which I feel I’m not going to solve. I just need to keep busy, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I have four months left to live in this city and I want to get everything out of it that I can.

So Moscow Part II. Bring it.