Sunday, August 28, 2011

Voronezh is Beautiful!

When I took Russian in college my teachers explained how Russians like to "гулять" and basically my English translation is "to walk around without really having a place to go." My teacher's were so right. Walking around town in the evening is the thing to do in Voronezh. I asked Ilena why, and she explained that there are so few months that the weather is nice that they have to do as much as possible! haha Bring on the snow! But the weather has seriously been so perfect! It is the kind of weather that you don't need a jacket but it is not too hot! I am loving it!
So a lot again has happened since my last entry. That is because something happens at least once a day... I mean I am an American that can barley speak Russian in Russia... interesting things are bound to happen!
teeny tiny elevator!!!!! Fits 3 comfortable, fits 6 very uncomfortably!

The other night I " walked around without really having a place to go" in Voronezh with Ilena, Daniel, and Ilena's friend Borsya. He spoke no english so thank goodness for Ilena! It was a lot of fun to be with them! There wasn't a lot of understanding, but I thought it was nice of them to invite me! On my walk, me and Daniel found 1 ruble and a 10 kopeck on the street. Those are Russian coins. There are 100 kopecks in a ruble, and a 28 rubles equals a dollar. The majority of the population uses buses here, and so you can find  money on the ground if you look. So far I have collected 1 ruble and 30 kopecks. Sure it is not much, but in America you hardly find any because everyone uses debit cards.

Anyways, on our walk we crossed this bridge (Voronezh is divided into 2 sides because of the river) So I live really nearby the river (However there is no fishing or swimming, it is VERY dirty, as my family would say "it is Russia!") But it looks very pretty! So the bridge was really cool, however upon closer inspection, I saw that there were a million spiders on it!!! Ok I have no idea how many, but there were so so so many! I swear the whole thing was one big spider web!! EWW! They are the white spiders with long legs! Borsya would pick them up in his hands! Gross! But there are spiders in every apartment complex, and outside every window. Spiders will one day take over Russia- FYI
Oh and ps- Russians love to talk about American music. My host family kept on asking me all these American bands, I was familiar with some, but not a lot. They like a lot of rock and rap. They like Eminem, but then Ilena said "but I don't know what he sings about". My host mom will sing random American songs and their Russian accents are so cute!

The other day we took a trip to "Wal*mart" well the closest thing to walmart here! It was a big super center. It was fun! Here are some of our favorite items they sell there:
Also Luke, Ryan, and Me sampled sausage and we told the girls who were sampling that we only spoke english, and they like perked up and giggled, and one of them was like "oh.... Hello!!!!" Haha and then I took a pic of Luke and Ryan, and they thought that we were so funny and it was great!

Here are some items that we enjoyed seeing in the store:
Goldfish crackers!
Crab lays chips!

Yummy looking Nutella!
Peach toilet paper....?

Not being able to speak much Russian is such an experience. I am so glad though that I know quite a few things, and I just need to learn a lot more vocab and review the grammar. A lot of the Russian workers will yell at us, but we just say " we don't speak Russian" in Russian. We have learned a lot though. You always pay the little rubles, or they will get mad! We have gotten yelled at twice! It is all a big adventure!

Also I am getting good at learning how to ride a bus! HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE! honestly and truly, I have no idea how the girls in 3 inch heels do it! Yesterday on the bus we were riding it, and all the sudden it just stops! They give us back our 9 rubles and then we just walk to the next bus stop!
walking to the next bus stop
 waiting for the next bus!
I am actually happy there things are happening so that I can learn how a real Russian lives their day! It is very interesting.

My ILP group is the best! We are all really good friends! I love them all! Tessa is a great head teacher and things are going awesome together!
  Luke with Kopecks and rubles on his head

We all love Mikaela!

head teacher of awesomeness: Tessa!

We hang out a lot at our head teacher's apartment and play games, talk, laugh, and cry we are laughing to hard. I am so grateful to have an awesome group! It is so much fun! We haven't started teaching yet, and so we have been able to relax and have fun and spend time together! Seriously we are all friends and it is super great!
Then we went to the mall for our friend Alix's birthday (or as my brother Daniel would say " for Alix's Happy Birthday" hahaha.
We went at ordered Blini.

This place was the best- best part of my trip thus far! So the 3 of us that speak a little russian were in line. When it was our turn, I attempted to say Bananas with carmel hahah totally was american, I couldn't pronounce the words at all! They stared at us like a deer in headlights! Then they all were laughing and trying to help us out by pointing and gesturing and so it was awesome! they were the coolest workers ever (much better then the grocery store cranky ladies). They thought we were hilarious and we are laughing so hard! So then we ordered, then we helped our friends order, and basically it was just as hilarious the second time--- Oh Americans!!! :)  We took many pictures because the experience is one not to be forgotten. Anyways I ended up getting Apple and cinnamon blinin- DELISH!   
 Yum Yum Yum!
 This is in the middle of the action as we are trying to explain what we want ;)
 They were so friendly!
 Jallyn feeding Sami!
 Ryan loves his blini! (Chocolate and Banana!)

This sign says "Blini are filling, Blini are sweet, blini are filling!"   Heck yes they are! (you can even get a caviar filled one....)

Then we went back home and 3 of us went to the grocery store again. If I didn't have my ipod touch I would be dead! My dictionary on there is so so so so handy. When I ask where something is, if they can't understand me, then I just show them the word! Also not being able to speak Russian is helpful because then they let you do stuff that normal people can't! Like We wanted to go into this cosmetics place of the store, but the security guard was trying to tell us something and we didn't understand, and so he just looked around and secretly let us go in! Yay to be clueless??

 So I just love my family more and more each day! Ilena is my age and so we have fun! Her english is pretty good, and now that she is like translator, she is improving so well! Daniel (he is 9) and me are good friends! He shows me all his toys and all his computer games, and all his favorite television shows, and everything! It is a lot of fun! He is the best! I speak enough simple Russian and he speaks enough simple English that we can communicate enough! When Ilena is home he will talk to me, then go run and ask her a work, then run back to me, then run back to her, and then run back to me. It is so cute!

 Candy made in Voronezh!

Then church today was so so so cool! The Church is true everywhere! We had our friend Zhenya show us how to get there (it is like a 20 min bus ride- so not bad at all!). As we were walking to the church we come across a beautiful very clean building. We all thought it was very pretty, and it turns out to be our church. We were kind of lost looking, but a guy in a car was like "ILP students, don't be shy, go ahead and go in"! (I guess we stood out!). We were greeted by Missionaries! :) So cool! They were so so so friendly- everyone there! :)
The Beautiful Church!
  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints- visitors welcome!
 Group in front of the church!

I wish I could explain how such an amazing feeling it was to be there! The spirit was strong and we all felt loved and felt like we were at home. The missionary told us that it used to be a old movie theater. We had sacrament upstairs! 4 of the 6 missionaries spoke English and then 2 of them knew some English, and then there was a senior couple who were the best!  It was the most welcoming feeling I've ever had!
An elder translated for us with headsets, but this 8 year old kept on coming up and talking to him and so it was very very funny! I got to sing in Russian and it was so cool that I knew the letters, it was great!
 Then we had Sunday school all together in English with all the English Speaking Missionaries, but we just talked about Russian culture, and about where we were from and it was awesome!
Then a sister missionary from Virginia translated Relief Society for us. She had only been in Voronezh for a while, but she had come from serving in Azerbaijan!  Is that cool or what!!?!?!
 Our senior couple Elder and Sister Frost!
 It is so neat to be with the Russian saints! The branch is bigger then I thought it would be. I have no idea how many members, but it was good sized :) Go Voronezh! Also there are lost of branch activities, and so I am very excited to get involved with them!

So things are awesome here!  I am very happy and my host mom cooks like everything Russian, so I am trying to learn to love tomatoes, cucumbers, and borscht....  it will be an experience! :)
Also my host family has wi-fi internet which is unheard of pretty much- so I am very lucky!
Things are about to get very busy! But have a wonderful Sabbath, mine is coming to a close!

до свиданя! 
Love ya!

Mom- this cat was outside of my apartment!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Has this really only been 2-3 days?

So right now my clock says that it is 0:11 on Friday August 26th... Military time is something that I must get used to! I cannot believe that it is only like 2pm on Thursday in Utah, this whole time change is really throwing me off!
Well I have so much to write so I will try to get it all in!
So I left my parents and sibs (Morgan and Jake) and got in the security line of the airport.
 (Last Name pun!)
I was so nervous, I was a lost sheep with 1 hour of sleep. Yes, Yes i was! I got through security just fine and found my terminal just fine. I met a bunch of girls from ILP ( who were all on my same flight. A lot of them were traveling and staying in Moscow but I am teaching in Voronezh. So it was comforting to know this was all new to all of us! 1 girl and 1 guy on my flight were going to Voronezh with me (Sami and Ryan).
Well I got on the flight to DC. I was so lucky! I had the window seat on the plane, and no one in the middle or the end. The sleep situation was very good!
The flight was 4 hours and went fairly quickly! We arrived in Washington DC and had a 2-3 hour layover. We just talked and sat- nothing to exciting. 

Our plane actually was delayed and we are thankful because we missed the earthquake because of that. Yes Heavenly Father is watching out for us J
Well the plane ride to Moscow was not like the first. Yes I was sandwiched between a grandma (бабушка) and an older gentleman. The babushka was really friendly and spoke about as much English as I did Russian (Basically not much) We didn’t speak each other’s language very well but, we did communicate. We talked about family and why we were traveling. It was such a cool experience! The Older gentlemen grew up in Russia but has lived in Tennessee for 22 years. His English was flawless. We talked about his childhood, Russia, Tennessee, Utah, Mormons (He informed me that mormons don’t drink and have many wives.) I informed him that it is true that we don’t drink, but we don’t have many wives, I am not sure he entirely believed me ;) But I tried. He also wanted to know the difference between Mormons and Catholics and I explained about the priesthood and how it is God’s power here on earth, the restoration of the gospel and how the gospel had been taken off the earth but had been restored by Joseph Smith, baptism and how it is by immersion because that is what the scriptures teach, and the godhead being separate beings but one in purpose. He said that he was very impressed that I knew so much and wasn’t just believing because my parents had told me so, but he also said “What is the fun if you can’t drink and have many wives” haha Oh Russians! 
I really knew I was sitting with 2 Russians when the babushka ordered tea and the older guy ordered 3 small bottles of red wine and 2 cups of black coffee! Haha the babushka thought it was weird I didn’t drink tea. Yes I am a Latter-Day Saint J

Well the plane ride was only 9-10 hours and so the whole plane ride (Both DC and Moscow) was a total of 14 hours, not the 24 I was planning!!! MUCH BETTER!! I don’t think I could have done 1 more!!!!   THey fed us a tortilini dinner, roll, water, salad, and a granola chewy! For breakfast they fed us yogurt and banana bread (YUM!) But it was weird eating dinner at like 4pm SLC time and then breakfast at like 12 am SLC time when it is really 10 am Moscow time! haha
We arrived in Moscow and we got our baggage (One of our girls was missing a piece of luggage :( Poor girl!!).
Here is me after many hours of attempted sleep and lack of cleanliness!
We then went through customs, yeah I didn’t know what I was doing. A girl named Ileena was waiting there. She is 19 years old and speaks a little English. She helped us exchange money and bought our train tickets. While we waited for our train, we ate Sbarro Pizza (Сбарро пицца). 
Haha I CANNOT speak Russian. I was buying my head teachers lunch as well with separate money, so I tried to tell them I needed it on separate plates. Hahaha Finally I got it, but My Russian was terrible. Since we only speak English and were clueless I heard them talking about us Americans in Russian… haha Whoops! This was the crowning moment when I realized that Russian was not what I have studied for 3 semesters! 

Then we went to the bathroom. I took a picture for you because I am such a nerd!
Well there are 8 of us in the group and I feel so lucky because each one is amazing! We all get along and it is so much fun! I love my group a lot!
We then got on a train which was to take us to the bus stop.    
   The train was comfortable and I slept even though the sights were beautiful!
Then we got off and loaded a bus.
Man I wish it was that easy!! Here is our bus situation
1. Some of our group didn't have wheels on their luggage and to we had to carry 50 pound bags by the handle
2. People like me had 2 bags with wheels, but my carry-on also had wheels, and a backpack, so it was almost impossible to carry all the bags at once
3. Our train left in 40 minutes and we had a ways to walk
So that was the story. We would carry some and then rest, Then some would go ahead, and 1/2 wait with the luggage and 1/2 run back and carry more. This was all on the streets of Moscow with Russians looking at us very oddly, yes I know we stood out!

PS- about 95% of Russian women wear killer high heels and dress up- it is so true, It was the most fascinating people watching I have ever seen (and I am sure the Russians thought likewise  Bahaha)  Ileena was an angel and carried so much heavy baggage. She was our hero! So we finally got to the bus exhausted, dehydrated, sweating, and very stinky.
We, NO LIE, reach the bus stop at 3:58 the bus leaves at 4!!! The driver takes one look at us and our luggage and says there is not enough room. Poor Ileena doesn't know what to do because she is in charge of us! We had bought the tickets way ahead so they should have to let us on......
 Well after about 10 minutes of tense air, the driver decides to do some maneuvering and gets all the big bags on. So we had to take our carry-ons with us and sit with them smashing us, BUT we didn't care- we were on the bus! It was glorious when we found out that we would be able to go on that bus!

These are pics from the bus and street. Haha The Stop sign "СТОП"  ( i knew I was in Russia)

Well the bus ride is the scariest thing I have done! I sat in the VERY VERY front. And so after about 20 minutes of thinking I was going to die, I decided not to watch!  

People would pull out at odd angles, and we would stop about 3 centimeters from hitting any car! You would fall asleep but a big bump on the road would throw you awake! It was quite the experience. At the 5 minute breaks we would take, I would say that 75% of the people on the bus would get out and smoke! No I am not in Utah anymore! And the toilets are not like American pit stop toilets, they are just a building you go around and pee at…  No I couldn’t convince myself to use one, I used the one that you had to pay 10 Rubles! (like $.33) It was nothing special but it had stalls, tp, and soap! (Ps- no bathrooms have hand towels, they are all dryers)

Well after much attempted sleep in a crammed seat on a bumpy bus, we arrived 8 hours later to Voronezh. I went home with my mom Zhena (I think that is how you say it) and Ilena (the girl who picked us up and took us on the bus) and then my 9-year old brother Daniel. It was around 1:30 AM Moscow time. I came home and made when they asked me for food, made the mistake of saying yes. After I got out of the shower (the shower had little water pressure and was warm, but it felt nice to clean up) They had warmed me up the biggest bowl of Borsht I’ve ever seen! Plus a chicken sandwhich, plus grapes, plus hot chocolate. I was not that hungry, and I ate a lot, but didn’t even but a dent in it, so I felt bad that they had to waste the food!

Then I went to bed, and slept very very well!

Here is Russian Harry Potter!
 This is Russian candy, it is a bear in cake-form with chocolate inside! (I ate his leg before I took the pic)
 This is the kitchen table and the fridge is to right (That is Daniel, I will get more pics of my family I promise)
 This is the washer, sink, and the microwave (the oven and tv are over to the right)
 Who wouldn't want a bright orange toilet room? The shower and sink are in a different room next door, also orange!  :)  The Toilet paper is very thin and scratchy, No Charmin here- but it is not a big deal at all!
 This is the living room which Ilena now occupies because they gave me her room. I almost didn't want to take it because they were so nice!
 This is where I sleep! It looks so comfy right! it was! It is a very cute little room and I LOVE IT!
 This is a view from my window of the lake!
 The next door apartment ( We live on the 11th floor, I will take a pic of the elevator soon!)
Well i slept in having gone to bed at 2am! Woke up at 10. I unpacked and got ready for the day. I ate a peach and peach yogurt for breakfast. Also the bear cake candy, and they fed me this bread thing that was dipped in oil and had baloney and tomatoes and cheese... it was interesting, my goal is to learn to love Russian food... hopefully it is an acquired taste and I will learn to love it. Daniel's favorite food is Borsht, so I am sure I will eat a lot of that. My mom has tried to feed me a lot of tea, but I think she now understands that I don't drink it. And the water they buy in a jug and they DO NOT put it in the fridge!

Like I said Ilena speaks some English and is the main translator for us. My host mom speaks VERY little English and Daniel speaks little english as well. This is so much motivation. If I want to communicate, I have to speak Russian. Tonight we had a pretty good understanding of each other, but I had my Russian-English dictionary out and we had to speak very slow and very simple. It was so good though! I really enjoyed it, and and going to spend time working on it, it is so worth it!

Well Ilena walked me to the school today, it is only a 10 minute walk which is nice. We then explored the school and went to our head teacher's apartment. After that, a 14 year old girl names Zhenya took us to the inner-city of Voronezh across the lake. We went on a very stinky HOT bus. It was around 20 minutes and cost 9 rubles. Cheap!
We then looked at monuments, and ate at a fast-food place. Zhenya's english is almost perfect and she has no accent, she helped us order everything and get around, it was very helpful! Here is some of down-town Voronezh

 This statue is of the Man who founded Voronezh, Voronezh's b-day is sometime in Septemeber, so there will be a big festival!
 Me and Alix!
 Just more Russian buildings! Russian is everywhere.... (Duh Kelsee!)
 World War 2 monument, Tessa (our head teacher) reminded us how neat to see a WWII monument in a different country
 Russian Restaurant
This is Jallyn who I adore, and then that is Zhenya who is our awesome tour guide!
 This is us! ILP VORONEZH FALL 2011! (With our statue of Lenin)
 This is a statue of Pushkin!

So then we headed back to Tessa’s apartment and relaxed! Ahhh! Well that about sums it up!
I am happy and healthy. I ate so much Russian food again for Dinner, my host mom is an incredible cook. We had cucumber and tomato salad, ribs, grapes, and a chicken sandwich (Which is very deluxe looking) and peach juice to drink.
It is now 1:30 am and I have stuff still to do, but I am very happy! J I am taken well care of. Things are very very different, but I am ready to learn new things!

Thanks for your interest!
Ps- Mom I love you very very much! I know you are worried about me, but I will be very fine! J
 also, this is the first Russian Cat I found just for you. I stopped out whole group to take a picture of it!! :) It looks Russian... no?  


Kelsee- From Voronezh Russia!