Saturday, August 29, 2009

so mcdonalds tastes the same here too

So I finally am settled in. For the most part, anyway.
It's been a couple days now so I guess I'll start with my flight.
Everything went well and there weren't too many major problems. Frankfurt was
by far an easier airport to navigate than CDG. We actually landed almost an hour early,
and our gate wasn't even open yet, so they had to unload us onto buses
and drive us to our gate. I had four hours in Frankfurt and there wasn't a whole lot to do, mostly
because the airport was smaller and I wasn't really that hungry. I got breakfast at McDonalds, which was
extremely slow because the cashiers had to go get everyone's stuff before they waited on the next customer.
I thought ALL McDonalds were efficient, haha. So I ate and then searched for wireless, which I did find, albeit
very bad wireless. But I did what I needed to do. The second plane ride is always the killer, for me anyway.
I was so tired and of course I was like, the last person on the plane. So lo and behold there was nowhere for
my carry on in the overhead storage, so I had to shove it under the seat in front of me while the 2 Russian kids
I was sitting with gave me death stares for making them get up. Eventually a flight attendant took pity on me and
told me there was extra room in business class so she took it up there. Domodedovo was pretty painless, EXCEPT
for baggage claim. Ahhh such a small area with so many people. By the time I had filled out my migration card,
the baggage from my flight had apparently already passed through, and it took me about 20 minutes before I found
it at the info desk. What a nightmare. And that's not even including the angry Russian lady at passport control
who persistently asked "where you fly from?!". So yeah, finally found my driver and got going, which leads me to
my next segment: Moscow traffic.

Oh god, now I knew the traffic was supposedly bad, but I can't even express with words how ridiculous it is. I
don't even know why they bother to paint lines on the road. People pretty much just created their own lanes and
there was absolutely no semblance of organization whatsoever. Without traffic, the trip probably would've been
less than 30 minutes, but it took us about 90. People with like, NICE cars such as Mercedes, BMWs etc etc would
literally just go offroad into the dirty and muddy shoulder to pass maybe 2 other cars. The people merging
wouldn't even wait until the roads met and they just drove right through the medians. For the first 30 minutes I
was shocked and then I didn't care anymore because I felt like passing out.

I got to Svetlana's apartment maybe around like, 8:30, I think. I don't even remember. So for everyone who I know
is dying to hear who Svetlana is. Well, she's 73, I think, I forget what she said, but somewhere around that.
She's really nice. However, here's the kicker. She speaks NO English. Absolutely none at all. She has a
daughter Lena, she doesn't live here but she was here on Thursday night and she speaks some English, so she
helped translate important things. It's not really that bad though because for the most part, she speaks slowly
enough and uses baby words, haha, so I can understand her. Otherwise I just break out the Ya ne ponimayu and she
gives up, haha. My room and bed is actually really nice, the apartment is in general. The outside is straight up
Soviet, but her kitchen is actually really modern, and my bed is big so I am happy. She also has two tvs, woooo.
I watched some kind of Days of Our Lives type soap opera with her yesterday until I met Lisa from SRAS for
orientation. I got my phone (no more withdrawal- and it texts too! yay) calling card, put minutes on it, got some
metro passes, and a map of Moscow from Dom Knigi (Erin and Marie will appreciate this). After that I made a mental
note of the McDonalds with free wifi on Arbat, which is where I am posting this from now, and then I went back
to Svetlana's for the night.

So right now I am in McDonalds posting this. Internet here is so terrible. Like, I guess I should've known but
there are barely any places so far that I have found. I guess I will have to explore some more. This works for
now though. I even managed to order my stuff in Russian so I was proud of myself for that, haha. Other than that,
I am just waiting for school stuff to start on Monday. We have placement tests and stuff like that, and I think
actual lectures start on Tuesday.

So this has been really long so I will stop now. I have a freaking time limit at McDonalds apparently anyway.
Will update when possible.

PS. Sorry if this post is terrible formatted. I had to type it in notepad :X

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

trying to remember what i know i'll forget

So it's the night before I'm leaving and I still feel like I have a lot of little stuff to pack and get ready before I leave tomorrow. I am sure no matter how hard I try, I will without a doubt think of something I wish I had brought as I'm sitting on the plane halfway across the Atlantic. It always happens. I'm leaving around 1:30 for the Philly airport, and my flight is scheduled to take off at 6 tomorrow evening. I am hoping everything will go smoothly and I'll be able to get SOME sleep on the 11.5 hour flight to Germany. I can never, ever sleep on planes so I'm taking some Dramamine and trying a new strategy of getting up really early so I'm tired by the time I'm on board. Whether this works or not is yet to be seen, haha. As much as I would loooove to go to bed right now I know I will be happy when I can actually fall asleep for more than 20 minutes at a time when they turn the lights off and I'm the only person wide awake.

I also learned several things from my Parisian Charles de Gaulle disaster from last year. 1. Print out a map of the airport beforehand so I have some semblance of direction. Signs do not necessarily take you where they say they do. Paris, I'm looking at you. 2. Don't be fooled by the pregnant woman at the end of the moving sidewalks who asks for Euros. Sorry, I do not have any but I am sure your baby will be just fine. 3. Double check my departure gate. Last time I sat at the wrong gate for 2 hours before thankfully checking with info and to my dismay, finding out that the wizards at CDG and Air France had changed my gate number. So hopefully all of these things will make my stopover in Frankfurt easier than last time.

I'm due to arrive around 6PM Moscow time. A driver is supposed to pick me up at Domodedovo and drive me straight to what I am sure will be Svetlana's strikingly beautiful apartment. Not sure how long the drive will be but I probably won't get to Svetlana's until pretty late. I am definitely excited to meet her, and anyone else who I might be living with, but nervous too just because I don't want to be inadvertently rude or anything like that. I am sure she will be very nice though, haha. I have no confirmation but I am hoping, hoping, hoping that she speaks English decently, which I have a feeling she must. But oh well, I guess surprises are fun.

Sooo I guess that's it for tonight. I am going to finish up a few more things and then probably go to bed and get up between 6 and 7. I will try and update this as soon as possible once I find a reliable internet connection in Russia, be it at Sveta's or elsewhere. Eventually I'm going to try and post some pictures too, once I get the hang of both my new camera and this blog. Most likely they will be on facebook before they are on here, though. Until then До свидания!