I may not win, but I can’t be thrown. Out here on my own …

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 by mishamike

So I promised an upload when I got back from Pskov, and then promptly did not do it. But Pskov was probably one of my favorite parts of this trip so far, and mainly probably because of the snow. It was literally like walking around in some kind of magical winter land like Narnia. I had actually been to Pskov the last time I came to Russia, but it is so different in the winter. Along with Pskov we also took a short trip to the monestary and fortress at Isborsk, which was definitely my favorite part of the trip. There are these springs there that you can drink from for things like love and wisdom (which were the springs i drank from despite almost freezing my hands off to do so) and it is almost impossible to describe how beautiful the springs are with all the snow and ice. There is also a lake there with swans that makes you think of the ballet. I want to post pictures, but as it took me about an hour to load this page just to write this, I think the pictures will have to wait until i get back to America.

That being said. I think that this will be my last blog post in Russia. Even though we are going to Suzdal and Vladimir this weekend, which I am super excited about because I heard that it is gorgeous right now, my internet runs out tomorrow and I don’t really want to pay for another whole month when I am only gonna be here like 2 more weeks. (AHH 2 more weeks, I can’t believe its that soon already. Any way I promise there will be a giant post with pictures when I get back to the land of speedy internet, but for now let me just assure you that Russia has been a great experience. I feel like I am just finally getting used to everything, although I still can’t walk the entire giant escalator in Smolenskaya, and its already time to leave. I am going to try and pack as much as I can into the next 13 days. And trust me, there will be lots of stories when I get back to America.


Let the Sun Shine, Let the Sun Shine In

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 by mishamike

So I have been absolutely horrible about uploading my blog. I just looked at the last post and realized that it has been over a month. Time has really been flying by here. But just because I haven’t updated in awhile does not mean that nothing interesting happened, I actually don’t even know where to begin with the stuff I have done over the past month.

I guess the most exciting think that has happened was turning 21 on Monday. It truly was a good birthday. My host mother made me a potato and an apple pirog and some friends and I ate dinner and celebrated. So a wonderful time was had by all.

Also I have been going to the theatre a lot. At the beginnnig of the semester I went a lot to the opera and to concerts, but lately we have been going to see drama plays as well. I saw two Chekov plays: Three Sissters and the Seagull, which were both fantastic, a Gogol Comedy, and a play directed by Roman Viktuk called Ferdanando. Roman Viktuk is a very famous director right now in Russia, famous for his very strange, often very sexaully driven productions, however all of the Russians who were with us told us that this was not a typical Roman Viktuk production.

I think the best way to describe most of the places I have been is through pictures. These pictures are from our trip to the city of Tula where we visited Tolstoy’s estate at Yasnaya Polyana, also some graves of famous Russian people at Novodevichy Monastary, as well as my walk around the sculpture garden outside of the New Tretyakov Gallery. I also have pictures from are trip to Chekov’s estate, but I have not put those on my computer yet, so they will be in the next upload.

Also tomorrow we leave for another big weekend excursion to Pskov, so I promise there will be another update soon about that. But for now, here are some of the pictures

People like us we slip by through the cracks, we’ll never be famous so who’s gonna care …

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 by mishamike

So right after I said I didn’t have very much interesting to write about several crazy/fun/maybe kind of scary things occured aver the last few days.

First, and probably the least exciting, I stayed home from classes one morning because I wasn’t feeling too well, only to realize that there had been a bomb threat at the University and we had missed all our classes anyway. I heard it was a pretty exiting day that I missed – but I also heard from some of the other students who live in the dorms there that it was awful because none of them realized it was a real bomb threat they just though it was a drill so they all went out with coats or money or anything (it snowed for the first time that day too by the way) and then were told they actually weren’t allowed back in until after 6 pm (This happened something around like 1000 -1100 in the morning)

Second, Fun exciting thing, We had probably the best museum excursion Iv’e been on so far the other day through the Cold War Museum. It this museum that used to be a bunker in case of a nuclear war. It is 18 stories, (yes we walked them on foot) underground, and just a really neat place to see. Walking through it you felt like you were in some kind of like 1960’s cold war movie, and it was really strange to think that people actually worked there. Interesting fact I learned there: The bunker itself was huge, like massive, but it was so top secret that the people who worked there most of the time only knew the way to get to the specific area where they worked .. and, this im not too sure about but I think, that some of the time the people didn’t realize that there were other areas in the bunker where people were working, thats how secret it was. Anyway, If you are ever in Moscow I highly suggest signing up for a tour of the Cold War Museum. I tried to upload pictures, but the internet is not being nice to me right now, so I will try to upload them next time.

and Third, Exciting and slightly Scary thing, yesterday my building caught on fire. It didn’t affect my apartment, because the buildings are huge, and even though its all one building its divided up into sections, so the fire only affected the section next to us, but we did lose electricity for most of the evening. Basically I was laying on my bed and all of a sudden there was this huge noise and my room shook. I got up and looked out the window and I could here people yelling and I thought that there had been like a car accident or something. But then I started hearing sirens and such and then the electricity went out and I decided that maybe I should ask my host mom what was going on. I still don’t really know what caused the fire (although I’ve been hearing the word “explosion” thrown around so I think it may be something dealing with a gas stove or heater) and I don’t really know how bad the damage was, but that was a little bit of the craziness that happened yesterday.


Should we join in the fray, or stay here where we are ….

Posted in Uncategorized on October 12, 2010 by mishamike

So I haven’t put a post up in a while, so I figured that even though not much exciting has happened since St. Petersburg, I should probably just do a quick update on everything.

First of all, I think that the Russian people have been lying to me about the bad weather in October. Today was the first day it rained in a long time, and this weekend we had exceptionally good weather. I decided to take advantage of this and spend another day wandering around Sparrow Hills only this time not by myself. It really is becoming one of my favorite spots in Moscow. Also we came across the discovery that the russian playground equipment is actually well disguised work out equipment. We were suspicious at first when we saw people like doing legit gymnastics on the pull up bars, and then on closer inspection we discovered that among the jungle gyms and slides, there were also leg presses and ab extenders.

However despite this discovery, most of life this week has fallen into routine of classes and city wandering. One interesting thing is that during my praktika class we went into the city to look at this monument, and as soon as I saw it I got so excited.

The Monument is called Children – victims of adult vices, by Mikhail Shemyakin, and it is one of my favorite sculptures of all time. I remembered it from the last time I was in Russia, but I couldn’t remember where it was, or if it was even in Moscow, so I was so happy when we turned the corner and I saw it in the distance. Unfortunately my camera died so I did not get to take any pictures, but I am going to steal a few pictures from google images and if you want to know more you can wikipedia it. But it really is a cool statue … 

Speaking of monuments I also am currently working on a presentation on another really cool statue of Sherlock Holmes and Watson that is actually located really close to my apartment. I’m pretty sure there is a picture of it a few posts back.

Other than that .. not much new is going on … however .. i have heard a rumor that it may snow a little overnight … not sure how much truth there is to that because it hasn’t really been that cold … but maybe …

Uh oh stuck on you, you and me baby we’re stuck like glue …

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2010 by mishamike

So I am back from St. Petersburg. It was a pretty intense weekend, with a lot of excursions. We seriously packed a lot of trips into three days, but it was great to keep busy and really see the city. I took a ton of pictures .. so I’m just gonna stick the good ones in at the end of the post instead of throughout because it makes it easier in terms of the uploading.

Anyway we met at 11:00 at night in the train station to get on an overnight train. It was a pretty nice ride up, although I did sustain a small finger injury attempting to unlock the door of our compartment in the morning. We got into St. Petersburg at 6:45 in the morning. it was actually kind of a weird feeling … because it felt like we were getting there really late at night .. but actually it was time to start the day.

The first day was spent with a full excursion of the city. First we did a tour of the Dostoevsky museum, which made me really what to finish all of the novels of his I started and never finished. Them after lunch we met our tour guide, Olga, who took us around the city and we saw all of the big sites. The Church of the Spilled Blood (Built on the site where Alexander II was assasinated) is probably my favorite because literally the entire inside of this church is made up of mosaics. It is pretty difficult to descirbe just how breathtaking this is … luckily though I go a lot of pictures. Other hihglights of the tour were the Peter Paul Fortress and Cathedral and St. Issacs. Also that night we went out to a movie theatre and watch this strange like kind of monster alien movie … it reminded me a lot of district nine … it was called Monsters (Монстры) and it was not a Russian movie .. but I haven’t figured out if it was American or British … actually I may be talking about it right now like its a completely unknown movie and really I just missed it coming out in the US.

Saturday was our excursion to Peterhof – whihc was Peter the Greats attempt to create Versailles .. and it is the pinnacle of extravagance. I was there on my last trip to Russia – but it was such a different feeling being there in the fall than being there in the winter. It was still beautiful .. but a much different kind – kind of going back to the Golden Autumn that Russians always talk about. Luckily even though it was a little colder the fountains were still turned on. Then that night we went to the theater to see a four hour opera – Don Carlos by Verdi. The tenor who played the lead was not my favorite singer … I thought his high notes sounded pretty heavy … but there were some really great singers in the smaller rolls.

Sunday we did our excursion of the Hermitage, and then after saying goodbye to Olga – we split up. I went with Alina and some other students to the Anna Axmatovna museum – and now I really want to read some of her poetry … she is a very fascinating woman. On our way home we just happened to find this really super restaurant on the roof of a building. It was pretty fancy and a little expensive … but we decided to just drink tea and eat desserts there as a last farewell to the city before getting on the train.

All in all it was a great trip. St. Petersburg has a much different feel to it as a city. The pace of life is a lot slower, and actually, as international as Moscow is I definitely felt like St. Petersburg was much more western. (which of course, what its intended purpose was as Peter the Great’s “window to the west”). Also, architechturally, St. Petersburg is much more of a planned layout .. other than Moscow whihc you can tell just kind of evolved from several smaller areas just kind of coming together into a big city.

In the hostel I ended up meeting some other people who also were visiting St. Petersburg for the weekend while studying in Moscow, and a lot of them very strongly disliked living there. One person said that a lot of Russians he met outside of Moscow were very quick to tell him that “all Russians are not Moscow” I think it is true to an extent that people here are kind of rude and indifferent if you just interact with strangers on the street, mostly because every here is always in a hurry (I mean god forbid you miss your metro train and have to wait a whole THREE MINUTES for the next one). however all of the Russians here Ive met personally .. have all been super welcoming and polite and fun … so i think a lot of it is how you as a foreigner choose to interact with people. In summary of all that – despite having a great time in St. Petersburg .. I was glad to get back to life in Moscow.

And now here are the pictures which I’m sure most people have skipped too:

wake up kid, you got the dreamers disease …

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 by mishamike

So trying to upload pictures this week has been somewhat of an ordeal, as my internet, which is not exactly “high speed” in the first place, decided that it was going to go super slow … and freeze up everytime i uploaded pictures. However, today I finally managed to upload some pictures to facebook, and somewhat to this blog … howver i did lose a few at the end, but I got al the important ones.

After a super rainy week last week, I was starting to think that the wonderful end of summer early fall weather was over, and it was time for cold and rain everyday – but suddenly this weekend we had the most gorgeous weather I’ve seen so far. So going out and doing outside things was a must.

On Saturday, we went on a boat cruise on the river. Something we have been trying to fit in pretty much since the first weekend, but have always had to move around. Needless to say, I glad we finally got a chance to do it. The weather was perfect, and from the boat you can see all the major Russian landmarks, and somehow they look even more awesome over water. Here are a few of the photos I took from this adventure + afterword went we wandered around through two monasteries.

On Sunday, I went off on my own for a little bit . From the boat, Irina had pointed out a park called Sparrow Hills, that was a nice place to walk around. I decided to go there for a little bit, and ended up wandering around there for almost 3 hours. There were all these nature trails, and great scenery to look at, and it was the first time I had experienced any sort of ecological awareness in Moscow, including for the first time finding recycling bins. I took a ton of pictures there, but uploading them all to the blog was when the internet started to be ornery again so I only have a few here, but they are all on my facebook.

Other than the very successful weekend of city exploring, this week we also got to see Swan Lake at the Bloshoi Theatre – well when I say the Bolshoi Theatre I really mean the “fake” Bolshoi as laura dubbed it, because the actual theatre is under renovation right now, but it was still the Bolshoi Theatre production – located at the theatre next door. And I have to say that for the “fake” bolshoi it was a pretty gorgeous building, and the ballet was, of course, amazing.

On Thursday we are going to go on our first really big excursion – a weekend in St. Petersburg – so expect a massive post on Monday about this adventure …

Feel the waltz, feel the waltz, come on baby baby now, feel the waltz …

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2010 by mishamike

The Russian’s have a term for this time of year. Its called Золотая Осень, pronounced Zolotaya Osen, (Golden Autumn). It refers to the time in fall when all the leaves are changing color before it starts to get really cold and rainy. Today I really saw why Russian poets love to write about this time of year when we went on our excursion to Abramstevo. Abramstevo was a primary center of artistic activity during the 19th century, where a lot of famous Russian writers and artists lived at worked. It is mainly known for being the center of the “Slavophile” movement, where Russian artist tried to develop a uniquely Russian art form without western influence. – I pretty sure that is an accurate description .. i may have just completely made up all of that history. But it is a really interesting place if you look it up on wikipedia. But besides just seeing a lot of the history and such that is there now (it is know a big museum complex – kind of like Jamestown actually), the best part about it was just walking around outside (a lot of getting there involved walking throught the woods) and enjoying the wonderful weather, and getting to see a lot of great scenery like this …

Also speaking of weather, another Russian term to describe this time of year is Бабье Лето (babe leto). It is basically the Russian equivalent of our Indian Summer. Literally though every professor I have slash every Russian person I’ve talked to has told me something about it. Бабе (I’m not sure if its spelled бабье or бабе), is another word for like a Russian country peasant woman. And I’m pretty sure that the term came about because in the country a long time ago, the бабье лето meant that the women had more time to harvest the crops and get ready for the winter before it got cold, so they were able to rest a little bit during this time.

So apparently this blog post was to give you a lot of Russian history – of questionable accuracy …

However we also have started to get a lot more comfortable with exploring the city. Last night we went out to the club/bar/restaurant call Bilingua, where we stumbled upon a pretty awesome live music concert. We actually didn’t really know what we were getting into … we had meant to go to this Irish pub down the street but when we got there we looked inside and saw a bunch of strippers running around and dancing between the tables … so we decided to go somewhere else … so we ended up at bilingua where we had had lunch the day before and when we got to the door there was a person standing there and he said “For the concert?” and we were like Okay and went in .. and it turned out to be a really good concert. The group was called “Bez Dati” which in Russian means “without dates”, but we were talking about the concert with a Russian friend today and after a slight misunderstanding we discovered that the band name is meant to sound strangely close to a Russian swear word “pizdati” (im not sure if that’s right spelling), which roughly translates to f***ing cool. But the concert was great … there was one guy who played the accordion .. and between songs they read funny poems, and as the concert went on people got more brave, (or more drunk), and started dancing … so it was a pretty good night out.