The Interwebs, I has you!

Posted: September 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Wonderful news, I now have the internet and a semi-functioning computer in my room. Long story short, my computer screen is still broken. The bad news is that my computer cannot be fixed in Russia (and boy did we try), but the good news is that the screen works if I turn the computer upside down and then upright again. Sometimes the light behind the screen goes out and I repeat the process and have a useable computer again.

Ye Olde dorm room

Life at the university is progressing well. I have a schedule and I’ll be working with students from the 1st through 5th years. For 1st through 3rd year students, I will assist in conversation and pronunciation. For the 4th and 5th year students, I will be leading a class on American cultural studies. This may or may not end badly, as I know so much about American history and politics – somehow I made it through the American educational system without ever taking a class on American politics/government and the last US history course I took was AP during my junior year of high school. I guess wikipedia is going to be my best friend. I guess it will be a learning experience for us all. Hopefully soon I will also find out my schedule for taking Russian. I received a second grant from Fulbright, called a CLEA (Critical Language Enhancement Award), which requires me to take a minimum of ten hours a week of Russian.

A view of the main academic building

The linguistics department is simply awesome. One of the German professors only speaks to me in German, because I don’t want to forget it. This morning, she invited me to her fifth year German class to discuss the topic of foreigners in Germany, a subject that we briefly touched upon in German class at Lafayette. It was quite interesting, but I found it a little difficult to switch from Russian to German. It was also funny to hear German grammar explained in Russian. This particular German professor also invited me to a few of her other German classes later this week. The head of the linguistics department also told me that they have an old TV that they can let me use in my dorm room. They’re trying to find someone to carry it over for me. I’m excited because then I can watch all the Russian TV I have time for. Currently, the Russian students all laugh when I tell them that I like to watch the Russian remakes of American shows (such as Married With Children/Счастливы Вместе) and especially so when I announce Папины Дочки (Daddy’s Daughters). The latter is an original Russian sitcom, though now borderline soap-opera that I watched with my host mother in St. Petersburg. Normally, I wouldn’t watch a show of its type, but it’s easy for me to understand. For Russian speakers, or those curious, here’s one of the best episodes (Masha acts in a movie about Fascist Germany and Dasha tries to get out of gym class with Vennik’s help).

The adventure of today was getting the internet in my dorm room. Like a standard dorm, there is an Ethernet cable in my room. To get the internet turned on, I had to go to the center of the city to the ISP’s office. There, they took a bunch of information from my passport and charged me a start-up fee and then a fee for the first month. The price isn’t bad at all, and the plan I purchased has a faster connection than I get at home, and that was the second slowest option. Thankfully, one of my friends from the dorm took me into the city and helped me find the ISP office. Misha, from Moldova, was a supreme gentleman. Unfortunately, on the way back, we had to wait about thirty minutes for the маршрутка (basically a cross between a taxi and a bus – they are usually yellow vans that follow a route, but they can make small deviations if you ask them). While standing at the intersection of Karl Marx Street (clearly all the best cities have Karl Marx streets) and some other road, I watched all the cars go by. The majority of them were Russian, I even saw a first series Lada Zhiguli from the late 1960s. Out of the foreign cars, two caught my eye. One was a 2000 something G-Klasse Mercedes in the requisite black. The other car was a 1980, or so, Mercedes 240D in the wonderful dark green that Mercedes discontinued in the mid-1980s. There’s nothing like the clatter of a naturally aspirated, four cylinder, diesel Mercedes engine to make me happy. I’m pretty sure that the car had a for sale sign on the back of it. I guess it’s better that it drove off before I could read the details of the sign because a manual 240D is number two on the list of Mercedes that I want to acquire (and could actually afford as opposed to a 1956 300SL or a G-Klasse) behind a 1986-1989 560SL.

I like the photo below from Moscow. There’s a 2000 something G-Klasse, a 2005-2008 E-Klasse, and a 2008 or newer S-Klasse with one of those blue lights on top that lets the driver do pretty much anything they want. The days of the Chaika and ZIL might be over, but the current Russian ruling class has continued to use some of the privileges associated with a fancy automobiles that was ever-present in the Soviet era (if you want to know more about this, read my thesis).

A trio of Mercedes in Moscow

  1. Jenn Bell says:

    i LOVE your blog. I feel like it’s just like talking with you. Hope you keep it up! 🙂 Sounds (and looks) like life is good.

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