I’m Back

Posted: March 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

Guess who’s back, back again? Susan’s back, tell a friend.

I arrived in Ulyanovsk yesterday morning very tired and slightly stiff from the flight and train. I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure I wanted to come back. I really do love snow, but maybe I have finally had my fill of it. While at home, I realized how much I love warm weather and the ability to wear t-shirts. As I drove along the Hutchinson Parkway I opened the sun roof and then the windows all the way whilst sitting in lovely traffic on the Van Wyck Expressway. While parking the car at JFK, I noticed that it was 73 degrees Fahrenheit. My father and I walked to the terminal extra slowly to enjoy the sun and warmth.

Apparently Terminal 1 of JFK is the sketchy terminal, despite having been recently renovated. Since Aeroflot only operates one flight a day from JFK, they do not have their own check-in counter. Instead, a sign that says Aeroflot is put up above a different airline, whose staff handles the Aeroflot passengers. After having my bag weighed and getting the sticker for the airport destination, I was told to pick up my bag and bring it to a security area in between two rows of check-in counters. There, the bags were taken by one person, fed through an x-ray machine, and thrown roughly onto carts to be taken away. I was nervous about the fate of my bag, largely because I had roughly $140 worth of cold and flu medicine in it for someone in Russia. I made my father stand around the area while I made sure my bag wasn’t put aside or opened up for inspection. My largest worry, aside from losing my $140 that I would be paid back, was that my winter boots and coat were in the bag. It would be bad to arrive in Russia without warm clothes. In fact, a Russian woman yelled at me on the plane in Moscow because I didn’t have my hat and coat with me. She looked askance when I said they were in my checked bag.

The flight itself was fine and largely uneventful. I had an aisle seat in the center row of four, but was supremely unlucky because the woman next to me had an open seat next to her and the man behind me had a whole row to himself. It’s okay, I entertained myself with the movie “Patriot Games” before putting on my music and sleeping on and off for about three hours. I quickly made my way through migration control and got my bag with about five hours to spare before my train. Thus, I found a comfy lounge near the Aeroexpress train that runs from the airport to the city center and enjoyed the leather couches and free wifi.

Somewhat rested and up to date with all of the news of facebook, I hoped on the train. Behind me were three foreigners speaking English. They were talking about a Moscow map and were slightly confused. I turned around to offer them some help. Whilst getting off of Aeroexpress, I offered to walk with them to the Metro because I was going there myself. They accepted and we started to talk. They were two Swedes and a German man from Freiburg who work for Ikea. They were staying at a hotel next to the airport, but they had some free time and wanted to see Red Square. The German man and I started to speak in German and he got very excited when I said that I had studied for a summer in Bonn. I helped them buy their Metro tickets and then I was on the way to Kazan Station.

My train ride was peaceful. My cabin mates were a woman of about 45 and two men of about 40. We started talking and they were really happy that an American has ended up in Ulyanovsk. I mentioned that I have been offered a job to teach at a language school in Ulyanovsk if I would like to stay and they all said that it would be wonderful if I stayed. Americans may not have the best reputation everywhere in the world, but the Russians of Ulyanovsk seem to be very happy that an American likes the city and is willing to live there to teach English and to continue to study Russian. Unfortunately for them, I know that I cannot return for a lengthy period. Based on certain recent events, I cannot imagine living outside of the East Coast of the United States for any extended periods. However, I am committed to returning frequently to Ulyanovsk.

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