Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Moscow- a year's summary

It has been about a month since I left Russia and returned to the UK and in that month apart from working I have used the time to compile a list of the top 5 best, worst and amusing moments and the top 5 best events that occurred on my year abroad. Some of these I have blogged about in detail other of these I have not, each one will get it's position in the list and a short summary of the event. For anyone who wants to hear the event in full, because they either missed out on it or is too lazy to scroll through all my posts to find, can either track me down and hear it in person, complete with different voices, or ask me and I shall email it to you. Let the count down begin!

Events:
1. Celebrating New Year's Eve in Red Square with Carole and Becky surrounded by literally a thousand police officers and drunk Russians setting off fireworks.
2. Victory Day- military parades, fireworks, tanks, soldiers, communist songs and ribbons, what more could you want? :P
3. Women's day and Men's day- Men's day also know as Army day is celebrated on my birthday so we got the day off and women's day is the day when all men give presents, usually flowers, to all the women they know.
4. Eurovision- getting to sit in a pub watching Eurovision with my friends knowing the event was just down the road. Tickets for the event sold out ages before the event and meant that they only tickets my friends could buy were for the semi finals. It also meant that we got to see Dima Bilan performing and slightly messing up his performance.
5. Various day of the towns- in Petersburg I saw a rock concert at 9 am and a stray dog who could jump 6 feet in the air with no run up. In Moscow there was more open air concerts, parades and fireworks.

Amusing:
1. Dressing up as a Bab with Becky and doing a cooking show with Martin as the host of the show and having a cook off while impersonating Russian Babs and nearly poisoning two of my friends and a Russian kid who ate the salad that Becky and I 'cooked'.
2. My first experience in the lift in my building- in short I wanted to use the stairs rather than step into the smelly, old, scary looking lift but got shoved into by my Khozaika while she giving me a kiss on the cheek and saying goodbye to me.
3. Nearly getting shot while visiting Lenin in his tomb because Sophie and I were smiling and generally not taking the whole situation seriously. Admittedly I made it sound more dramatic than it was we really did get yelled and had the weapon pointed at us but it was still scary.
4. Almost getting our visas cancelled and getting deported from Russia- I didn't do anything naughty or dramatic but because 5 people didn't register properly Language Link threatened to cancel all our visas and send us home. Luckily Natasha our rep sorted the whole mess out but nearly getting deported came at the point when most of us had been in Russia for 7 months and really did just want to go home just not being escorted by Storm Troopers.
5. All the various conversations with Babs about tea, their cats, food, Putin and I wasn't married off with kids. Babs drove me nuts but they also gave me so much amusement.

Best:
1. All the travelling around Russia- St. Petersburg, Vladimir, Suzdal, Ekaterinburg, Sochi, Volgograd, Alexandrov, Klin and Sergyev Posad. It was an amazing chance to see so much of this vast country from mountains, to seas, to the steppe to the forests. In short Russia is an amazingly beautiful country.
2. Some of the food and drink- Vodka, Russian Champagne, caviar, blini, cheap sushi- yum yum! It also meant that parties were a lot cheaper to organise and also meant that I got to have champagne on my birthday. ^_^
3. Ice skating in Gorky park over the Christmas holidays- not particularly good at it but was fun to try even though I was shown up by 4 year old Russian kids.
4. The various train journeys most of them spent in platskarta with eccentric old women who talked about tea all the time. It also meant that I got to see the Russian countryside and lots of different towns.
5. Various visits to my Russian friends' houses and various different events with them including getting my debit card stuck in a wall, visit to the Europe-Asia border and conversations while at dinner with Boris and Valentina.

Worst:
1. Without a doubt the first night- picked up at the airport then after being driven around Moscow for hours then getting dropped off at a random flat in Moscow at 11pm after being awake since 4am on a plane with severe turbulence and literally having no idea where I was, where the metro was only knowing that I had 9 months left in this country and that I had to be at school by 10 to register my passport or else there would be BIG trouble. Also not having a Russian number so could not contact home and not knowing anyone on my course. In short being alone in a foreign country not knowing where anything was located and knowing very little about the culture.
2. The kasha- having it for breakfast in the morning every morning. I have still not recovered from it. Yuk!
3. Nearly getting arrested at a house party, having Simon's passport stolen and only realising this once the scary, burly Russian police were asking for our passports and documents and trying to get us to go down to their station. Luckily the British Embassy came through for us.
4. Having my credit cards rejected at the hotel in Vladimir then being accused by an angry Russian mad of trying to stay in the hotel for free then do a runner. Never a fun situation except it was 11 o'clock at night and we were 4 hours bus from any type of civilisation.
5. Getting badly bitten and sun burn in Petersburg then having an allergic reaction to the bits and having to go to a Russian pharmacy and trying to explain what I needed. Not fun

One that Russia has taught me during this very eventful year, apart from Russian, is that no matter what is happening try to look for the funny side of things and then laugh at it later because when it's -20 and the snow won't stop falling and your friends and family are in another country it may be all you have to keep you going and stop you from giving up.

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