I made up for my guilt at how late I’ve been getting out of bed by going for a wander today at “photos-o’clock”. Enjoy 🙂
“Of course it’s not normal, I’m Russian, we’re all crazy” – a Russian actually said that to me today. It was amazing.
I have the full intention of writing a proper blog post, but am also testing out some settings to make it easier for people to leave comments, so bear with me.
In the interim, here’s the most Russian thing I saw today – the sign reads “Not working :(”
…this post is not going where you think it’s going!
My standard day at the moment is get up at around 10 or 11, leave for work at around 3pm, get home at 10pm or so, dinner at midnight, bed at 2 or 3am. Needless to say, as I live in the middle of the city and get home quite late, there is a fair bit of drunken creeping that happens. Tonight was no exception – I was walking from the metro to my flat (it’s 200 metres, max) when some Russian guy looked back and saw me. He stopped so that he could fall in step and tried talking to me, despite my antisocial headphones. I said that I couldn’t speak Russian, so he paused for a second then asked if I understood English. I managed to keep my face convincingly blank, then replied in Russian that I could only speak French. He looked altogether stumped and drifted off, so I thought I’d managed to deal with him – then he ran back up behind me and asked, simply, “L’amour???” (love). Eye roll. I ducked into the nearest restaurant and waited til he went away.
Gender relations in this country are entirely outlandish to me. I’ll write more on it at a later date I’m sure, but basically, it’s like being in the Middle Ages. Women wear heels and makeup everywhere – because as my friend Naz said, they’re dressing as predators. The main goal seems to be to get married, and men represent fiscal security. It’s just all so old-school!! Haha flirting is characteristically Russian-ly direct – a pretty standard move is for the Russian guy to just stare and try to maintain eye contact for, say, 2 minutes. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid if, eg, I’m sitting across from them in the metro. Happily, I always have a textbook or some marking with me! I find it incredibly difficult not to giggle at people all the time though.
I have to tell you about my friend Karie – she’s an American, and started at another of EF’s schools in St Petersburg at the same time as me. When she first arrived, she stayed with a Russian friend and her family. She gets on well with the girl and everything, so when the friend asked if Karie would consider going on a blind date with a Russian guy, she said okay.
Anyway, Karie is my age and height, and she turns up at this blind date with her friend’s friend to find that the guy is a foot shorter than her, in his late 40’s, and with a ten-year-old daughter. Oh, and did I mention that he speaks absolutely no English? Too funny. She saw it through though, desperately trying to avoid his pawing. Lol.
Speaking of Karie, we (and Naz) had a few drinks after work on Friday night, then headed to an ‘International Party’ at Mishka, a bar near my house at around 1am. Of course, ‘international’ in this sense is ‘Russians plus one American and one Australian’. I was meant to meet a Russian friend there but couldn’t find her. I did have another friend at a different bar though (he couldn’t get in to Mishka), so after about an hour we missioned off to find him. He was at a bar on Dumskaya St, in the middle of the city – I’d heard of it as there are a lot of bars there. However, three separate individuals who we’d asked directions from said it was too dangerous to go. My favourite part was when the bouncer at Mishka said “sure, go to that bar. You’ll die.” Ah Russians. Anyway, we didn’t actually make it there, as we got distracted by sushi and then went home at about 3am. I’d talk about my nightmareish day at work the next day (not due to hangover, as we all know I don’t ‘do’ hangovers, but due to the incredibly disorganised nature of that school :/) but then I’ll just get all ragey.
Anyway, I’m going to try and get round to taking some more photos in the next couple of days, so stay posted 🙂
I think I’ve mentioned the awesomeness of the metro in just about every post so far. What I didn’t mention though, is that as well as the service being excellent (there’s a train on each line every two minutes), the stations themselves are… well, unusual. What I also think is crazy is that despite the trains coming every two minutes to whisk people away, in that two minutes, the whole platform fills up again. How can so many people need to travel around so much?
Anyway, I had a little time to kill while travelling from one workplace to another two days ago, so decided to get off at each stop and undertake the ‘two minute metro’ challenge – I would jump off the train, take photos, and get back on the next train two minutes later (this had the added bonus of my not getting into trouble for taking photos in the stations – I’m basically a super-villain). I’m definitely going to do this again, but in the below slide-show you can see all stops (bar Gostiny Dvor) from Primorskaya to Prospekt Veteranov. Enjoy!
One of my students kept saying ‘clotheses’ in our warmup today, and I’d noticed him doing it before so decided to do some work on countable and uncountable nouns. The exercise basically involved grouping a series of words into two columns – countable/uncountable. After the students had finished, I had them compare with their partner. Two at the back were arguing over whether ‘view’ was countable or not – one said no, whereas one said yes and went on to demonstrate: ‘one view, two view, three view’. With his Russian accent, it sounded exactly like the Count on Sesame Street, and I completely lost my shit. It was fantastic. How did that even happen in real life?! So we then put youtube and the Count up on the screen to demonstrate what I was talking about. The whole process made me very happy.
Speaking of Russian cliches, I went on the hunt for taco shells (a hunt which took me far and yonder!) to a kmart-esque supermarket with my friend Naz. We were chatting about teaching, and she told me a story about how she’d been given this new (fairly high-level) class, and as an introduction they were talking about their childhood aspirations or something. One of the students responded that he’d wanted to be a pro athlete (sorry if I’m butchering this Naz!). Another student latched onto the word ‘sport’ and turned to another student to ask ‘what sport do you like?’. It was more than slightly off-topic. But Naz’s first thought, rather than ‘oh, she’s clearly in the wrong level class’, was ‘oh well, maybe she’s drunk’. Because that’s a legitimate state in which to turn up to class in Russia. Amazing!
Speaking of class levels, I finally hassled the uni enough that they got back to me, have enrolled and start next week. As part of the placement process, yesterday I had to do a Russian exam (incidentally, I’d never have thought i’d be so happy to get 52% on an exam haha). It was so brain-melting that when I caught the metro to work afterward, I got out at the other end and was legitimately lost. I had no idea where I was, despite the fact that I was standing at a metro station to which I travel three days a week. Oh dear..!
I’m going to finish with a Swedish joke (not an oxymoron!! – or a pun, for that matter). I was watching a Swedish film called ‘Marianne’ with my friend Karie the other day, and it’s basically about this middle-aged man who’s being haunted at night-time. So he hasn’t slept in weeks, his wife has died, his mistress is stalking him, his baby has just been murdered, he’s been told to stay home from work because he’s crazy, and his adult daughter has just moved out. Basically, it’s a shitfight. And when some people come to visit him and ask ‘how are you’, he responds with this: