jeez these weeks go by so quickly. so, last time i updated was about 8 days ago. this past week was really busy, mostly because i made it busy for myself. i think i am just really realizing that if i want to see the rest of the places i want to see, then i need to do it myself. on sunday, we were supposed to have our excursion to the historical museum, but i slept in because i was out really late the night before and missed it. i felt lazy, so i decided to go myself later on in the afternoon to see the grounds and campus of moscow state university. i hadn't gotten around to seeing it yet and i decided it was a good day for it. MGY is located just outside the ring line of moscow's downtown, on sparrow hills, overlooking the city. it took a while for me to walk there, but when i finally got there, the views were amazing. i walked around the main building first, which is this simply immense structure of stalinist architecture. it's present in the background of moscow from a lot of places, but until you see it up close, you don't really understand the scope of how large it actually is. as a plus, there was literally nobody on campus, since it was dark and late, so i was able to wander around myself and take pictures. also, it had freshly snowed that day, so everything looked even nicer. as you walk down the promenade away from the university, you reach the overlook, where there are the best views of the entire city of moscow. you can see arbat, the moskva river, and the new moscow business center. it's a great view. there's also a ski jump on this hill that gave me vertigo just looking at it, haha. but basically, afterwards, i decided to head back to the metro, but a different way that i *thought* would be quicker. well, needless to say, i got lost for about 90 minutes, wandering around in circles most likely. when i finally found it, i was starving, so i found this really nice random mall closeby to get something to eat. the mall was large, and i had been wanting to buy a few cds of russian singers that i like and can't buy at home, so i checked out an electronics store. i found what i was looking for and went to check out, and the lady asked me a question which sounded like "did you find everything you were looking for?" i answered yes, and she gave me the craziest look ever, so i can only assume i was wrong, haha. no idea what she actually asked me. anyhoo, i ate and headed home with sore feet. got a lot done that night though.
on monday, i went to the park of fallen monuments with erin and sam. this was somewhere else i had had on my short list of places to drop into. it's basically a huge park right across the road from gorkii park and next to the river. this is where the new russia threw a TON of soviet monuments, statues, and art after the soviet union fell. most things are just strewn with not much organization, but it's really cool to see all of the lenin statues in one place. we spent a good deal of time there, though.
on tuesday, we had class as usual and they're starting to ask for all of our flight information now, which is kind of sad. but i do have stuff to look forward to when the program ends, so it's not all sad. more later about that though. after class, we decided on our usual tuesday plans of going out to the restaurant with the unlimited beer and really cheap food. amanda, kelly, rudy, and our russian friend ilya ended up joining us too, so we had a big group. it's weird though, because sometimes this restaurant is extremely crowded on tuesdays, with loud music and a lot of people, and other weeks, it's dead. so this past tuesday there was barely anyone there, not that i'm complaining though, since we get better service (or you'd think so at least).
wednesday..hm, well, we have our lectures on wednesday, if you can call them that, and i've never missed one, so i decided to take a week off and get some more sightseeing done. i slept in a little and made my way all the way back out to VDNKh, the metro stop north of the city where we went way back in september to visit Ostankino, the tv tower. there's also an old soviet exhibition center at this metro stop that i had really wanted to explore. there's a lot of old, soviet buildings and monuments there too. so i got there and of course it was almost dark already. the park was really interesting though, and surprisingly crowded for the time of day (night :P). obviously the fountains, which are really ornate and i'm sure look even more beautiful turned on, were off, but the park was still worth the visit. not easy to describe, one of those things you kind of just have to see for yourself. afterwards, i ate at mcdonalds, where i'm becoming a pro at ordering haha. granted, i always order the same thing, but that's only because mcdonald's selection here in russia is like, 10 times smaller than in america. they have the basics though so that's all i need to be happy. afterwards, i headed home to do some homework.
on thursday, after class, ele and i needed to go to the post office to get stamps (for my last batch of postcards!!) which ended in somewhat of a language miscommunication disaster, but we got stamps so whatever. after that, we headed downtown to arbat to buy more postcards that we both needed. i found what i was looking for, and then we found this really amazing restaurant right on arbat called baggeteriya. we both got these sandwiches that had chicken teriyaki, chili sauce, green onions, and pineapple on them. it was cheap and amazing tasting. finally, before we went home, we wanted to check out Dom Knigi, so we spent about a good hour or so in there and ended up buying a pair of fairytale books for kids, which is good practice. another long day and another day i didn't get to nap. blah.
annnd then on friday, we had class, and then an evening excursion. this was at a performance hall we'd already been to, and it was another folk dance, but this was from a different region in russia, Bashkortostan. the dances seemed to be a lot more intense than the folk dancing we had seen previously, though. we enjoyed that but left halfway through because we had reservations at an english pub for dinner. this pub turned out to be really authentic, they served a lot of english beers as well as a great selection of food with portion sizes that could actually satisfy more than say, a small infant (i'm looking at you coffee house). we stayed there for a while and then headed home because we had made plans for saturday morning to visit izmailovo souvenir market.
unfortunately, on saturday, we got to izmailovo too late, and since it gets dark so early here, they were already getting ready to pack up shop. but we made plans to come back earlier in the day next sunday, so don't fear, everyone will still receive their souvenirs haha. after that, we relaxed at a shokoladnitsa for a while before going back to the hookah bar we had been to two weeks ago. nothing too exciting, because we had an excursion planned for today. which brings me to...
today. we had a planned excursion to novodevichy convent. i was surprised because i thought that the convent would be a little bit bigger, but the grounds were very nice and pretty much what i expected for a convent. we had a tour guide show us around for a little while, but it was cold, dark, and rainy, so i got a feeling our tour was kind of cut short. they took us into an icon exhibition for most of the time, actually, and then we mostly just left. i am kind of churched out at this point, but i did want to see novodevichy, so i'm glad i went. after we parted ways with lena, we made a quick stopover at the novodevichy cemetery next door, which is a massive, expansive cemetery where a lot of famous russian leaders and cultural icons are buried. just for example, Gogol', Chekhov, Gorbachyov, and most recently, Yeltsin are all buried here. Yelstin's grave was really cool too, basically a 3 dimensional russian flag made out of colored stones for the red, white, and blue. but we didn't stay too long because of the rain, and made our way to get some food before heading back home.
and so here i am, i have about 2 and a half weeks before i leave. i have mostly finalized my end of semester plans, through lena's prompting. ele and i are sticking with our original plan of taking a night train back to st. petersburg on the night of the 10th. we're going to spend 2 more days there because we didn't get to see peterhof, and we also want to make a day trip to lake ladoga, which is a huge lake to the east of the city with a lot of beautiful scenery and wildlife. then, we're going to take another train to tallinn, estonia, and spend a couple days there before hopping on a ferry to helsinki, finland. we'll tour helsinki for a few days, and then head back to tallinn by ferry, where i'll come back to moscow and stay for a couple last days before flying back home. i'm really excited for the trip because i know next to nothing about estonia and finland, per se, and i like the idea of the adventure. i think it'll be fun for both of us.
but yeah, those are my plans. we basically have 2 weeks of classes left, and then two days of TORFL testing before graduation on thursday the tenth. it's sad to think that my semester is almost over, but i know looking back i will be amazed at everything i've done and seen, so i'm excited for the home stretch. look out for postcards soon if you haven't gotten one already. hope everyone has a great thanksgiving! until next time!