Yesterday marked the one-month anniversary of my departure from New York.
First thought: only a month? It’s felt like an eternity. I feel like I’ve been sleeping in this room, eating with my host bro and mom, taking the same bus, going every day to KSU for a few months, even a year. Very weird that its only been a month and even weirder that I have less than a month left. For those of you counting at home, I have 3 weeks and 2 days until I return to the NYC.
I think I’ve accomplished a lot in a month (for what its worth, one month in Russia comes Friday). I’ve made new friends – American and Russian. I’ve explored a new city – this wonderful place they call Kazan. I’ve eaten lots of new foods and tried lots of other things – jumping into the Golaboi Ozira (that freezing cold lake I mentioned earlier), dancing on a boat on the Volga with Russian devuchki, playing pick-up soccer with Tatar and Russian youths. Those of you who know me well know that I probably wouldn’t have done those things a few months ago. I’ve also (duh) learned a lot of Russian language. Not only the myriad vocab words I pick up in class but also useful expressions, phrases, and syntax just from talking with my host mom or sitting down to dinner. I’ve gone from being so worried about my language skills that I was reluctant to buy a Coca-Cola from a street kiosk to being able to communicate my feelings to twenty Russians sitting in a circle in the dark with a candle in my hands.
Am I fluent? Hell no. Proficient? No. But can I hold my own? Yes. And I honestly think that’s something to be proud of. I’ve experienced, seen, heard, been part of, things in this one month that I know I will never forget. And that, to me, is really cool.
Anyways, enough reflection, etc. On to news.
Yesterday was pretty bland as far as my days here go – some walking on Ulitsa Baumana and a homework-filled night. Today we went to the Museum of the History of Tatarstan, which was pretty cool, but mostly because it has arguably the world’s finest collection of Tatar/Golden Horde Medieval armor and wardress. Really really cool. They also had some authentic (obviously) posters and the like from WW1 and WW2 which were really interesting, especially because they were pretty much propaganda (especially the WW2 ones) and oddly similar to American posters of the same era and cause (Who’s Going to Help the Front? You!…The Front and the Farm – United!, etc.).
After that, me and two girls from the group went to the American Center (basically the American Embassy here in Kazan) to meet/talk with some locals who have an English language conversation group. They knew English really well and we just introduced ourselves and then talked about Russian classics (a few Tolstoy haters in the crowd), pizza (explained the difference between Chicago and New York-style pizza successfully), soccer, and McDonalds. It was fun but I would’ve preferred the conversation to be more in Russian, but its not a big deal.
Saturday will be a very exciting day. From 8:30 to 4:30 I will be on a boat that essentially “hovers” above the water (I’ve been told that the literal Russian translation of the boat is a “water pillow”) on the Volga, which supposedly goes very very fast. Our destination will be Bolghar, which is the original capital of the Tatar people. It’s an ancient city and should (hopefully) be very interesting. I’m worried that the heat – its supposed to breach 100 Fahrenheit on Saturday – might mar the voyage a little bit, but I’m optimistic for now that it’ll be a cool trip.
On Saturday night, I’m going to a FC Rubin Kazan soccer match! FCRK is in 2nd place currently in the Russian League’s table (second only to Zenit St. Pete). They will be playing Dynamo Moscow, Russia’s oldest soccer club. It should be a really good time and I’m happy that I’m going. It’s at 9 pm (moved back due to heat) so it should be nice out and I assume the crowd will be nuts (as they are reported to be), especially because Rubin is playing Moscow. I’m going to purchase a scarf and possibly a “Я ❤ Рубин” (I ❤ Rubin) shirt tomorrow in preparation. Should be a good time.
Well folks, that’s all for tonight. Hope all is well with y’all, feel free to chime in as always.