Selasa, 05 Juli 2011

Where is this “Real Russia”?

The weekend has been pretty busy so I hope this blog isn’t too long!

On Saturday it was Petrozavodsk Day which had been postponed for a week because of the recent plane crash. Every town in Russia has a certain day each year when they celebrate the founding of the town. Usually there are decorations all over the town and stalls selling local products and souvenirs. This year the whole day was massively scaled down in respect to the people that died in the plane crash and so the main event was a kind of historical re-enactment of village life. There was a real sense of community there… and it was nice to see people dressing up and letting go a bit instead of being their usual serious Russian selves!

On Sunday we went to the Island of Kizhi, a beautiful open air museum with some amazing wooden churches. Last time I went to Kizhi my camera ran out of batteries halfway through. So naturally this year I forgot to charge my camera and it ran out of batteries again. Obv. But here are a few pics I managed to take…

We had a full house this weekend as the Finnish girl who lived with Lyudmila and Olga when I visited last year had come to stay for the weekend with her friend! So in our flat we had two Finns, two Brits and two Russians! I think I’ve said this before but one of the best things about learning a language and having the opportunity to travel is being able to meet and make friends with people from all over the world. In my visits to Russia I’ve made friends with (and kept in touch with) people from New Zealand, Norway, Holland, America, Finland… and obviously Russia! It’s so interesting to hear about people’s lives in other countries and to have friends all over the world! Good for free holidays too. Lyudmila prepared a FEAST for us and we spent the evening chatting, singing old Russian war songs on the karaoke machine and watching a soviet film. Standard night in.

One of our conversation topics was where exactly “Real Russia” is. All Russians will tell you that Moscow and St Petersburg are not really Russia! Obviously the big tourist cities are full of foreigners and their influence! But even in Petrozavodsk we’ve been told that this isn’t “real Russia” – apparently we need to go even further out to find out what Russia is really like. So someone please help me – where exactly is this “real Russia”? Because I really should visit.

Jumat, 01 Juli 2011

I’ve got more cream on me than a Russian cake.

We’ve been in Petrozavodsk for almost a week now and so far everything is going swimmingly. I can hear my Russian improving, I’m happy to be back with my Russian family and so far Anabelle and I haven’t had any major problems as group leaders. Hopefully it will stay this way!

I do find it funny how I have just settled back into normal life… but in Russia. I’m not really having any great adventure here. I’m doing exactly what I do at home: catching up with my friends, searching for jobs and checking facebook! I’m just doing it all in Russian (apart from the facebook checking).

We do have excursions most days with our group of students though to stop it being just like home! Yesterday we took them to an exhibition of photos that were inspired by Tolstoy’s short stories. Although it was only small and not at all clear which photos were inspired by which stories, it was only about 40p and a nice break in the day! At first we thought the exhibition was just photos of people’s perceptions of Russia which got me thinking about what I would take a photo of to show my perception of Russia. So far I think it would be a sofa bed covered in small coins. I think my idea needs some work. Suggestions?

So the biggest news of today is that my ankle looks like a tennis ball as it has swollen up after being bitten by a mosquito. They never used to like the way I tasted (and so I never got bitten) until last year when I got like 59 bites in one day after stupidly going into the woods without insect repellent on. Ever since then it seems I’ve been a lot tastier to the insects. Anyway, yesterday I was sat on my bed and suddenly realised that one of my ankles was twice as big as the other. Gross. I don’t like it when my body does weird things. (Side note: MUM don’t worry, its ok.)

Summer has also arrived in Petrozavodsk and it is absolutely boiling outside! Russian weather always means I have to prepare thoroughly before leaving the house – in the winter I need to put about 12 layers of warm clothing on and in the summer I need to cover myself with insect repellent and sun cream. I hate burning so at the moment I have more cream on me than a Russian cake…