Saturday, August 16, 2008

off to the homestays

Today I'm moving out of the dorms and into my homestay! I'm a little nervous but trying to be excited in a good way right now. Some students moved into their homestays yesterday and reports back were mixed. Some people are about as far away as you can get from the university, but I'm hoping that's because most the students who got moved in yesterday were boys, and they'll be safer on their own than a girl would be metroing/walking home a long distance. I'm hoping for a few things: a) that my landlady is nurturing and isn't some sort of no-nonsense ice queen, b) that my landlady won't try to take advantage of me when it comes to negotiating prices of food or laundry services, c) that there is at least a washing machine, d) that the apartment will be at least within 2 or 3 metro stops. Some of the people who moved in yesterday said that they don't have hot water in their homestay right now; it gets turned off during the summer. According to one student who asked his landlady about it, it will be off for another 10 days or so. This is somewhat disturbing, although to be honest it's been so hot here that I can't help but wonder if I'll even mind. Last night it was so unbelievably hot and humid, and of course there's no air conditioning here so we all just had to suffer and be sweaty and sticky while packing up our suitcases.

There's been a lot of silly melodrama between the EAP students lately. I'm ashamed to say that I am a part of it, although I have no idea how I got involved. It's usually something I try to avoid. I feel like I'm back in my freshman year in the dorms, getting riled up over petty things and caring too much about being liked and accepted.

I'm not sure what my internet's status will be once I'm in the homestay. Hopefully I'll be close to a McDonalds or Kofe Xaus because those places have wi-fi. I'll try to check in again soon!

P.S. Martine had a question about night life and the clubbing scene here. A few people have been more hardcore about pursuing that arena than I. A lot of people are intimidated by the "face control" that they have here, which basically means they don't let you into the club if you don't look or aren't dressed a certain way. Some clubs are stricter than others, I think some girls went out the other night and had no problem getting into a club (like America, it's generally easier to get into a club if you're a girl), but they went early and that makes it easier. The first week after we were here, we were going to go out to a club for a student's birthday here, but since we're such a large group and some people felt like they didn't pack snazzy enough clubbing clothes, we were afraid not everyone would get in. We ended up going to a bit of a dive bar, which was basically like an American bar but way more expensive. They were playing American country music for a while, which was kind of awful and not exactly the Moscow nightlife experience people were looking for. There's still more time to explore the club scene here, I'll keep you updated about it.

As for the food question, I do like it but it's hard to say what defines Russian cuisine. Lots of mayonnaise salads, beet and cabbage soups with sour cream on top. They use dill in practically everything, so I've come to associate that as a very Russian thing. Sosiski (sausage) is a big deal here, they usually have it on open faced sandwiches. They eat bread with everything (which is okay by me!). Something I've noticed about buying things from food vendors or from the dorm cafeteria is that meat is often undefined.
"What is this?" I ask while pointing to some kind of breaded patty while in line. "Meat."
"What is this stuffed with?" I ask about a meat pie (pirozhok). "Meat."
I guess I'm getting more comfortable with eating meat that comes from an unspecified part of the body of an unspecified animal. People who came here as vegetarians or who leaned toward vegetarianism have set that diet aside for this trip, I think.


Anonymous said...

Good Luck with the homestay - do they really have vodka with every meal? What about drinking water? Will you be having a snail mail address?

We'll be thinking of you... A.D. said...

I really like the name "Kofe Xaus" sounds cute, but it sounds like their prices aren't :/
Is the X just a hard H or is it like a KH? I hope it's the latter, because it kind of sounds like someone's coughing. ("bless you!")

Is it consistently warm? I remember you said that thing about seeing several seasons in your time there...when do they say the cold season actually begins? You should get a Ushanka!

And yes, do post your mail address if you have one!