so, i have about a month left here. the time has gone by so quickly. at home, a month seems so long, but here, it makes me sad, because it feels like i'll be gone in a blink of an eye. there's still so many things i want to see and do, so i'm trying to write them all down and get as many of them done as possible before i leave.
i wrote last thursday, and last weekend wasn't extremely exciting. we didn't have any excursions scheduled until sunday because of our petersburg trip the week before, however, i was invited to a dinner at a georgian restaurant with alyssa through the sras program we are both here through. the georgian dinner was free for us and the restaurant was off of the new arbat. this was on friday, and after class that day, i took a nap during the afternoon before going. when i woke up, i didn't really look outside until i stepped out the door of my apartment. when i did, i was completely surprised because it was snowing, heavily, the most it has snowed since i got here. i was excited but obviously underprepared, haha. it didn't help that the restaurant was not easy to find, it was down a small alley and not really marked. however, i did eventually find it. we had a small room in the basement to ourselves, and the georgians seems excited to have us there. the dinner consisted of a beef and been stew, kachapori (cheese bread), vegetables, and georgian red wine (which in case you don't know is essentially banned in russia as russia has ceased all imports of georgian produced wine since their little tiff last summer, and continues to refuse to import any of it). however, the georgian wine is brewed on site so it was still as authentic as i can get here, and pretty darn good. there were a lot of people at the dinner that i didn't know, but it was informative because there were several americans there who have been living in russia and explained the ins and outs as well as what they actually do (one woman is in the foreign service and explained in detail how the testing works for diplomats etc). i had a good time and i think it was a worthwhile experience.
saturday was lazy, i think haha, but sunday we had the performance of swan lake at the state kremlin theater. this theater is actually inside the kremlin, and is where a lot of speeches made during communist times were given. the ballet itself was very well done, and even though i honestly probably preferred ruslan and ludmila, which we had seen previously, because of its modern interpretation, i still really enjoyed the opportunity to see swan lake.
this past week hasn't been too eventful, though. i have been busy with class, and we have the TORFL at the beginning of december. on thursday, kari and i had planned to go to sokol'niki to see a world calligraphy exhibit which i had stumbled upon during a previous visit to the park. it actually turned out to be really interesting because they had calligraphy from all over the world, as opposed to only japanese/chinese calligraphy. we saw calligraphy from russia, belarus, norway, germany, france, and even the united states (although written english should never be called calligraphy, it was the worst of the entire exhibit). but it was definitely interesting and i'm glad we went and saw it.
on friday, we had a planned excursion to a hockey game. it was ЦСКА versus Череповeц. the rink itself was pretty crowded and the crowd was extremely energetic, as usual. it was funny because there were scantily clad girls dispersed throughout the stands to act as cheerleaders and dance to the techno music which was periodically played while the clock was stopped. the game was fairly competitive though, and it was tied after three periods. we left since the tie wasn't being resolved, but it was a good time all around.
today, i slept in a little since i hadn't for a long time, and then i made my way over to the park of fallen monuments, which is basically a park where the new Russia threw all of the statues honoring stalin, lenin, and all of the other soviet premieres after the fall of the USSR. the park was HUGE, a lot bigger than i ever thought it was. the park was actually featured on the amazing race, which is part of the reason why i knew about it, haha. but it had a ton of statues, monuments, you name it, it was there. so i met up with sam and erin and we walked around for an hour or so to see everything, and then we went to a japanese restaurant for dinner and to watch the Russia versus Slovenia World Cup qualifier match. Russia beat Slovenia 2-1, but Slovenia was basically an easy win. doesn't matter though russians get excited about anything having to do with soccer haha. afterwards, we found a hookah bar, which turned out to be amazing, because we ordered a grapefruit and mango hookah, and they actually put a WHOLE legit grapefruit on top of our hookah haha, something i've never seen in the US. they also had good music, live bellydancing, and they played america's best dance crew on tv. so that pretty much added up to a good day.
tomorrow, we have an excursion to the state historical museum on red square, and i've been wanting to go there for a while, so i'm looking forward to that. beyond that, we always seem to have mystery excursions during the week, since they only tell us the scheduled weekend excursions, so who knows what will be scheduled next week. this next upcoming weekend, we have a scheduled excursion to the Novodevichy Convent, which is a beautiful convent and church complex located right near the ring line of the moscow metro. and the week after we have a bus trip to the town of Sergiev Posad where there's an historical monastery. i'm actually really looking forward to that.
other than that, in russian class, we're just continuing to practice for the TORFL, which will be during the first two days of our last week of classes. it's sad that we only have a month left, but that also means i am really starting to think about my end of semester plans. my flight doesn't leave until the 21st, and classes end on the 11th, or sometime around the, which means i have about a week of time to do whatever. my original plans were to travel back to st. petersburg with ele, visit estonia, and then come back to moscow for my flight. however, we still have not had our visas renewed, and i'm not sure how much it will cost to pay for a multi-entry visa into russia (which is what i would need). if it turns out to be too much, my plan B is to choose a russian city (most likely west of the urals of course haha) and spend 4 or 5 days there touring and sightseeing before i head back to moscow. either way, i am really excited and anxious to see something new before i come home. in the same vein, i also really want to plan a trip to a small town outside of moscow via train or bus either by myself or with someone who might want to join me, just for a weekend. the problem is that i don't want to miss an excursion i really want to go on in moscow. i am tentatively thinking possibly the weekend after thanksgiving, but it's still up in the air.
so yeah, i have a lot of things to think about, not even including my next semester at pitt, which i am sure will hit me like a ton of bricks since i have done crap in terms of actual schoolwork this semester haha. this has basically been like a huge vacation (and believe me, i'm not complaining). but yeah, the chips will fall as they may, i suppose.
i will try my best to update again soon. until then, stay well!