Today’s Post is Brought to You by the Letter Ë

Posted: September 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday, two girls from the 4th year took me into the center of the city for a walk around. The walk, and travel to and around the center in general, was difficult because there is currently a massive reconstruction effort on roads and sidewalks. We went to a breathtaking overlook of the Volga. The city of Ulyanovsk is on both sides of the river. The side I live on is the older and main side. The other side is mostly residential and industrial. The bridge in this photo is the older of the two that crosses the Volga.

The Volga

We also passed a series of interesting statues and monuments. For example, there is one monument to the Russian letter ë (pronounced “yo”), which, as I was told by my guides, has a history with the city of Simbirsk/Ulyanovsk. Nikolai Karamzin, the writer of the first complete history of Russia, came from this city.In additional to his historical pursuits, he petitioned for the creation of this letter. Thus, the city of Ulyanovsk has a monument to the letter ë.

The Letter Ë

One of the other sights we saw was Площадь Ленина, or Lenin’s Square (not to be confused with the Red Line metro stop in St. Petersburg). There was the obligatory statue of Lenin surveying the square. I love it when statues of Lenin are placed in odd, modern situations. I don’t think the Soviet sculptors or planners envisioned the statue overlooking a skate park. What’s of interest to me is that this weekend UAZ (one of the vehicle factories in Ulyanovsk) will be celebrating some sort of anniversary. There will be plenty of examples of their cars at Площадь Ленина and I can’t wait to see them all and take tons of photos.

Lenin and Skating?


On one side of the street in the center of the city are many historical buildings from the city that are hundreds of years old. They are painted in bright colors, similar to some of the buildings in St. Petersburg. Thankfully, on the other side of the street there was a large mural of Socialist Realism. While I love historical architecture, I get a kick out of Socialist Realism. I expected the home city of Lenin to have more of it.

Building a bright socialist future is important.

Today, when I was walking back to my room after classes, I saw a man riding a horse across the campus. Sorry for the blurry picture, but that’s all I could get quickly. Sadly, no one ever rode a horse across the Lafayette campus, at least that I’m aware of.

One horsepower. Faster than a Trabbi? Probably. Definitely safer.

Here’s another fun photo. The sign on the building is basically drawing attention to the sports area of the campus. I don’t know how well it will show up in this blog, but the picture of the hurdler is what drew my attention. The hurdle is labeled “Lewis and Clark.”

Lewis and Clark Track and Field in Russia?

Another funny thing from the university comes from my department. I’m the first native English speaker to work with the department; however, they recently had two German speakers. One, Konrad, was an Austrian probably around my age. He basically did what I am doing, but with German. The other Herr Baumann, or Господин Бауман as he is known in Russian, was an older man from Germany who came to instruct German for some period of time. Herr Baumann was somewhat unpopular due to some of his teaching methods. Apparently, when he left, he did not both to clean out his desk, which is now mine. Inside the desk we found the following book, which loosely translates to “The Russian Speaking Etiquette.”

Now I'll know how to speak politely.

The book is from 1981 and is full of wonderful examples and exercises. For example, this one tells the reader how to address comrades, friends, and citizens.

Friends, Citizens, Comrades, lend me your ears!

This exercise prompts the reader to give compliments for the figures in the photographs (I’m assuming in Russian, but the directions are in German, so who knows).

I'm not really big on giving compliments to people in yellow suits.

  1. Okay, first of all, I am leading a crusade to restore the umlaut back to the “e” in Russian (where it belongs, of course). So I find this post particularly awesome.

    Lovin’ the pics you’ve posted. Sounds like you’re doing well. 🙂

  2. Glenn! says:

    Is it bad that when I saw Площадь Ленина I immediately thought Финляндский вокзал?

    That памятник is awesome!

  3. What do you have against people in yellow suits? Wolverine has a yellow suit, sort of.

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