One month down

One month down! I am probably more proud of myself than I should be for surviving my first month here without getting hit by a car or walking into an open manhole, but oh well. I have settled in and adjusted to life here more or less, but there are still a few things I am getting used to, such as…

1. Always needing exact change. Well this is not something I need to get used to, so much as something I am resisting. I honestly try to give the cashier as close to exact change as possible, but sometimes I can’t. This usually isn’t a huge problem, unless I go the café at my university. So, despite the fact I rely on the trolleybus to get around, I have yet to purchase a bus pass, meaning most of my change goes to the trolleybus (and any remaining change goes the banana vending machine. That’s right, a banana vending machine, that I frequent quite often). As a result, buy the time I make my way to the front of the line to purchase my usual yogurt and piroshok, I am left without small change. Every time I hand the cashier a hundred ruble bill for a 70 rube purchase, she looks at me as if I just killed her puppy.

2. Mayonnaise on salad. It just ain’t right.

3. Mullets. Russia has produced incredible literature, architecture, music and theater. Not even the land of Pushkin is immune to this trend.

4. Mosquitos and wind. I probably should have expected both considering St. Petersburg is located on a march. While I love Oklahoma, I wasn’t expecting the umbrella-breaking wind to follow me to Russia.

5. Getting weird looks when speaking English in public. I am well aware of the Ugly American stereotype of loud, obnoxious, slovenly Americans, but I didn’t expect to get glares or odd looks when I said a few words to a friend in English.

On the other hand, there are hings I have definitely gotten used to:

1. Drinking tea all the time. I get the English own the trademark on being incessant tea drinkers, but I think the Russians could give them a run for their money.

2. Always carrying an umbrella. Always.

Now that the one month marker has come, I feel like I’m finally making the transition from tourist to resident. I feel comfortable here, and can use the transportation and navigate the city without feeling out of place. Everything has happened in the past weeks is just a scattered mess in my head I’m going to explain it all through a hail of bullet points:

* Crime and Punishment walking tour

Whenever anyone asks why I am studying Russian, I usually mention the Cold War and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It is unlikely that I would have read the Brothers K if it wasn’t for a high school reading assignment. Furthermore, the only reason I chose that book was because a classmate of mine (who’s taste in books I trusted) chose to read it (had I known the book was over a thousand pages at that time I might have gone with a different book). After reading the Brothers K, I wanted to read Crime and Punishment. Easier said then done. I bought the book my senior year of high school, started in my freshman year and when I came to Russia was about half way through it. The only explanation I have for my snail-like pace is a preference for non-fiction books which often distracted me from Dostoevsky’s wordy masterpiece. Upon coming to Russia, however, I figured I should probably finish Crime and Punishment, considering the book takes place in St. Petersburg. The walking tour I went on included Raskolnikov’s (the main character) apartment, the scene of the murder.

* Pavlosk and Pieterhof

To be honest, I am not one for palaces, I like walking inside them, but my interest in them is minimal at best. Yes, they are pretty, and historical but I can’t get excited about super old silverware and landscaping.

Pavlosk: Imperial Palace, was a gift from Empress Catherine to her son, Paul I and his wife Maria Feodorovna in celebration of the birth of their son, Alexander (say what you will about aristocrats, but they are not stingy when it comes to gift giving).

Peterhof: I actually really enjoyed Peterhof which is really famous for their fountains. Known as the Russian version of Versailles. Peterhof has a lot of incredibly ornate fountains, some are even interactive that will spray you unexpectedly (thus another reason why you should always have an umbrella).

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