Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The PowerGoth Girls

So this is apparenlty me. Yay for having internet that doesn't cost me money!

I will get round to writing about Moscow and stuff in more detail, but for now I'm just going to say that I made it to Chicago safely (and they let me in the country with remarkable ease) and it's my birthday! So celebrations will be had.

(A very confused as to the time zone) Sara xx

Friday, December 16, 2005


Moscow is cool.
The cash machine at the Red Square gave me 400 roubles in 10 rouble notes. This was hilarious.
More later!

Coffee is thicker than water...


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Last full day in Krasnoyarsk

Yup, tomorrow it's time to get on a train and head for Moscow... all very exciting, but sad. There are some great people here, and I'm happy to have met them, but leaving them will be strange. Going to Moscow where we don't know any Russians will be strange - we've been so used to bumping into people we know we've felt like locals!
Moscow I'm looking forward to though - Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral, Lenin... and I have already been warned by Mark not to take any parts of Lenin as a souvenir, so I'll bear that in mind. Might be a little tricky to explain at customs anyway.
So, the next time I write I'll probably be in Chicago! That's going to be a long post...
As for now, it's off home to pack for me. Not looking forward to that, my "acquisitive instinct" seems to have got the better of me here... silly rouble being such good value!
So, for the last time, "From Russia with Love"
Sara xx

Coffee is thicker than water...


Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's been a crazy few days...

...what with an unofficial birthday, being arrested and our last day of lectures.
I'll start with my Krasnoyarsk birthday. My real birthday is the 19th December, but by that time I'll be in Chicago (yay!)so the people here decided I needed a Russian birthday too. So during our lessons on Monday, I was surprised to learn that it was my unofficial birthday! It was loads of fun, we had cake and champagne at lunchtime, and hugs from all the Russians and stuff like that. In the evening we went to a Japanese restaurant on the south bank of the river, and ate lots of sushi (with more champagne!) which was really really good. I love sushi, and I think I converted a couple of hte others too :) After that good meal, we went to the pool hall where the Russians met us, and I got flowers and presents and thigs too! Thanks to Uliana for the shapchonka, and Andrei for the rose (don't get jealous Rob, it's normal for girls to get flowers from male friends here!), Julia for the CD and Dasha and co for the candle! Pool was a lot of fun, we taught Julia how to play (and almost won), ate more cake and had beer and generally ran riot in the place. We've been there before, it's fine!
Overall I had a really good day, although I must apologise to Roman for being the worst passenger at directing ever... I was more concerned with talking to Dasha and Olya than telling him where to go, which is fine except that he doesn't know where I live :)
The next day our adventures with the militsia took place. It all began very innocently, as we walked through the underpass by the cinema and stopped for a moment to eat the mince-pies that Marianna had sent us. Unfortunately for us, there were a couple of militsia guys standing down there too, out of the cold, who then came over and asked for our documents. I had mine (smug grin), but the others didn't - Ben had a photocopy, Rach and Sophie handed over their Durham campus cards, while Vicki and Christine decided to run away!  As I had my back to them I didn't see this, but I heard the details later - Christine almost deciding to hide in the slot-machine room, Vicki taking off her hat and pulling down her hood as a kind of "disguise"... good stuff guys.
Anyways, these two guys spent a long time scrutinising my passport and visa, and eventually decided I was missing some kind of stamp. He started writing out reports and things, while the other took Sophie outside (which we were most concerned about) - turns out that he said we could go if we paid a "fine" (read: bribe) of 1000Roubles. Sophie, perhaps too much influenced by our market experiences, tried to haggle, but he was having none of it, so they came back inside and he also started writing out forms. This was amusing. In Russia, people have a given name, a patronymic (derived from their father's name), and a surname. Now in England, we don't have patronymics. The militsia didn't seem to understand this, and were most aggrieved when we didn't tell them what our patronymics were. Eventually we settled on middle names, and that made them happy (despite it being nothing like derived from our fathers' names). One of them also decided he knew what he was talking about, so he kept correcting his friend, and then we had to keep correcting him... I spent a lot of that time trying not to laugh, they were a proper comedy double-act.
After that, some random passer-by started arguing with the militsia, asking how they dared to do this to us, and pointing out that if there were going to be illegal immigrants in Russia, they would not come from the UK. Fair point, I thought, but the coppers were determined - if they weren't going to get money out of us, they would at least waste our time.
Eventually we were put in a Soviet re-painted police jeep things, with our three "witnesses" (people dragged off the street) in the cage thing at the back and then us four English and one other random Russian on the back seat. I ended up sitting on Ben's knee, Rach was on Sophie's - it was exactly the kind of thing that you'd be arrested for in England, and here it was happening after. Oh well, this is Russia after all. After a short detour (I think one of the coppers was buying cigarettes) we got to the police station and waited in the back room with another bunch of people. They all seemed to be Kazakh or Mongolian, and there was one guy happily sleeping as he lay against the wall with a chainsaw at his feet. We stood around for a while, and then I was called over to the desk sergeant person (as I was the only one with documents). "Where is your registration stamp?" he asked. "I don't know," I answered, "Maybe it's in Naushki." This is the border town between Russia and Mongolia, and I think in truth that's where the registration stamp is. We didn't know we had to re-register when we re-entered the country, we'd been told our visa covered all this. Eventually Vera (our foreign students rep) turned up with photocopies of our documents when they still had the stamp, and after a conversation about Siberia and England ("How do you live without ice?" "Warmly!") with some random lawyer type person we were let go. Hurrah. Straight across the road to the nearest cafe!
The following day we were re-registered by the university. This should mean that we can actually leave the country now, which I feel is a bonus. I must just say that even though I texted my mother to say I was arrested, I've heard nothing from her. Maybe I've been disowned <sniff>.
Today was our last day of lectures. Another party! More champagne, cake and snacks, and lots of photos and presents and even certificates to say we studied there successfully. It was sad though, most of our teachers were really good, and since it's Krasnoyarsk's turn to send one to Durham next year we're campaining for our favourites :)
Now it's time to go home, and later we're heading down to Smaik to enjoy the gin and tonic in a can... with our passports in our pockets.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I was on tv!

It was all a little strange...

I'd been told that it would be on between 8-9am. That was fine, maybe
a little early for my taste but sacrifices could be made for my tv
debut. However, when I emerged just after 8 my haziaika a) was very
surprised to see me that early and b) told me that the piece had been
shown at 7.15. Well. I went back to my room and texted the crew,
saying not to bother getting up because it had been on, when there was
a shout from the kitchen - "It's being repeated!" So I got to watch
myself trundling around Krasnoyarsk and making silly grammatical
mistakes after all. My haziaika found it hilarious, I cringed. But
still, it was an experience.

Now I just need to get a copy...

Follwing from this, we were in lessons yesterday when the Dean came in
and asked to speak to the teacher. Fine, ok. The teacher came back in
and told us that we'd been "invited" to teach at a school on Friday
and that the Dean was quite keen that we did it. Why do we keep
getting volunteered for things? And why did she not ask us herself,
since she came down to find us anyway? So this has been causing much
unhappiness, with people feeling like they should go even though they
don't want to. I, on the other hand, said "Sod that" and so did Ben
and Christine. It's our last (full) weekend in Krasnoyarsk people, we
have things we want to do! I don't like being volunteered for things,
and especially when the person who did the volunteering won't even
tell us herself.... <angry>

But, there's good news too. I have my plane tickets! So I can actually
leave the country all legally and stuff and not have to stow away and
freeze to death in the wheel carriage space. This is a relief to all

Apart from that, we have a busy time until we leave. Tonight we're
going for coffee with Julia (need to leave soon), tomorrow there's
teaching and a goodbye party thing for us at the school, and maybe
ice-skating, and I'm sure there were at least 3 other things we had
pencilled in for tomorrow. Our list includes films, theatre, more
skiing, dinner at Renata's (the Canadian girl), shopping for presents
and vodka, clubbing, general hanging out with Russians, along with
somehow going to uni and doing the work for that too. We need a group
diary. Or a secretary, that'd be good. Send your CVs to...

Well, time for me to be off. I may get chance to write again before we
leave for Moscow, but if not, well, you'll have to wait won't you?

Love to all xx
Coffee is thicker than water...