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 25ÂșC 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.