Blogs from Yaroslavl, Centre, Russia, Europe - page 2


Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 21st 2005

Minus 5 this today but I thought it felt like minus 8 - which is why Chiara beat me in the guessing game again! It snowed a lot overnight and it is knee-deep where no-one has walked. We chatted about our plans for next week in Lena's class, then did some grammar after the break. I hasn't sunk in yet that at mid-day tomorrow I won't be a Yartek student any more, I feel as if I have been studying here for years. Olga gave us a translation for our last lesson with her, about Soviet Constructionalism of the 1920s. We converted it from Russian to English as best we could in the first half and re-read it to correct our mistakes in the second. I was pleased with my work; there wasn't time to check ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 20th 2005

Minus 5 this morning, so Chiara is one game ahead with only three days to play. Our last topic with Viktor was the environment and ecology. We read an article and answered some questions about Chernobyl. During the lesson Chris J came in, to tell Viktor that he would not be in his class later. He was mugged and beaten up last night by a group of six youths, who stole his phone, 2000 roubles and left him with a cut mouth and very sore legs. It is not the first time a British student has been injured. Every girl has been harrassed by a group of men at least once. Laura had 1000 pounds stolen from her bank account, and the first family that Anna lived with took the same amount from her suitcase. Emma ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 19th 2005

The unthinkable happened this morning; I woke up feeling awake and ready for the day! The last week's temperature game started with a draw. Minus 3 this morning but it felt considerably colder. We had our last classes with Yulia in the morning. We continued reading part of a novel by Tolstoi about vampires, translating it paragraph by paragraph then discussed what had happened at the end of a page. In the break I went to speak to Valentina Ivanovna to ask her if I could sleep on the sofa in one of the rooms on the night of the 6th, before our journey to the airport. She agreed without too much complaining. I don't want to pay for a hotel, and I would have stayed with Michael for a night but Natasha will have guests. ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 18th 2005

For once a peaceful morning. I went back to bed after breakfast to sleep off a lot of mashed potato and small sausages and got up at 1. Prospekt Lenina seems to be the most festive part of town. New Year is the big celebration (and Russian Christmas is not until the 7th January) so there are lights above most buildings that say "2006". There was new snow this morning so the square looks wintery. There are huge pine trees along ulitsa Nekrasova all the time but some have decorations on now, and the one outside the House of Culture is so big that it takes men on a fork-lift truck to put them on! With only five days until I leave I'm even busier than usual. I have to write an essay on "my impressions ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 17th 2005

Friday night's concert was certainly entertaining. It took place in a small room in Yaroslavl's 'House of Friendship', also on ulitsa Nekrasova. The televised part was four of the girls from Oxford singing and dancing to the traditional song "Kalinka", then a New Year's greeting in five languages: Uju in Ibo, Alessandra in Spanish, Anna in Italian and Lois in French. The English part was given to Chris J - who also speaks Czech, Russian, French, Slovak and some Italian! Chris sang a poem by Pushkin, then he joined a man called Dima to sing a duet. He had a good voice but over-acted dreadfully even when the camera wasn't rolling, which de-valued all the hard work that Chris had put in. It was supposed to be Dima's evening but the students that performed around him ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 16th 2005

Another Marina Ivanovna tantrum this morning. My "almost breaking" the taps means turning them off so that no water drips out. She is too weak to turn them back on. If she tells me I have broken it and makes me give her 1000 roubles she will find a replacement for 500. Even more insulting is her insistence on speaking in English, even though she doesn't know how. If she calls me "awful" or "terrible" one more time in that creepy accent my temper will snap. I have been unlucky. I am hard to live with in England, but since September I have tried to live peacefully and keep myself to myself, so I take no responsibility for how badly I have been spoken to. I am jealous of the rest of the students who have ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 15th 2005

Minus eight outside this morning. I win for the week again! Viktor's conversation lessons were uncomfortable. The topic was terrorism, but it was awkward listening to and reading so much Russian ignorance. In Russia people see only extremes: black or white, good or bad, rich or poor, ours or theirs, right or wrong, and to quote the booklet "the civilised world and the Muslim world". It has made us all angry learning how the majority of people do not believe there is ever cause for further thought. How can anyone answer question 6: 'Describe a typical terrorist'? In my opinion these feelings from the Communist system, when no information was available about culture other than that of the Soviet Union. Russians tend not to question what they read and do not change what they think, and ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 14th 2005

I received a totally unnecessary threat this morning from Marina Ivanovna, that if I break the tap in the bathroom I will pay for a new one. I don't appreciate being shouted at hypothetically. She warned me in such poor English that I only just made sense of what she said. To make a point I repeated petulantly "I don't understand" until she had to speak in Russian to me. As usual things became much better as soon as I left the building. When we turned the corner of ulitsa Pobedy the temperature was minus 9; my guess of minus 6 was closer than Chiara's minus 5. Lena's classes were good. We are re-reading the simpler parts of grammar, some of which I wasn't sure about. She knows that we are tired, so to lighten the ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 13th 2005

Minus 1 this morning. Another surprise, and Chiara guessed closest so our weekly game is 1-1 so far. Because of the overnight thaw the streets are covered in 'slush' again, which is awkward to walk through. Viktor taught us about sects. A million people belong to religious cults in Russia, including three people that he knows. My concensus was that it is a way for con men to trick money out of vulnerable people, others said that it was the only thing to do in Russian small towns. I didn't talk as much as usual, I didn't have much of an opinion on the topic. Olga brought in the video of Ilf and Petrov's "Twelve Chairs" for us to watch in the afternoon. The sense of humour is both slapstick and intelligent; two men, a charming ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl December 12th 2005

The thermometer read minus 15 this morning, which took Chiara and I by surprise. There was no wind so it didn't feel any more uncomfortable than usual. Lessons were neither good nor bad. Mondays don't require a lot of brain work so I was in a daydream for most of it. Maybe I am sleepy all the time because after taking my overcoat off to go inside I am still wearing four thermal layers in a warm classroom! We read an Azerbaijani love story with Yulia. A man, Seimur, feels lonely at the wedding of his best friend. They choose a random phone number for him to dial and he falls in love with the girl who answers, called Medina. They speak every night but never see each other. A month after their first phone call ... read more

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