Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I have arrived!!!

Hey all!!

So it's been a very long journey but I have finally arrived here in Russia! YAY!! After what was just a few months of waiting I am finally here in the land that is called Russia!! So from the beginning, and I will try to keep this short!

So on August 17th my mom, dad, Emma, Stephanie and I woke up nice and early, about 445, and we drove to the the Madison airport where we found out that my plane was going to be delayed. Shannon, Jeremiah, Brandon and AJay all came to say goodbye to me as well. So we all hung out for a little while then it was time for me to go through security. While we were saying our goodbyes before i went through security we started hearing "Kendra Wagner please report to your gate as your plane is about to depart" which didn't make any sense because i still had like 30 minutes before boarding even started. Well needless to say I went through security quickly because the men there knew that i needed to get to my plane. I had to run to my gate because i thought that I was going to miss my flight but what i didn't know was that my dad was talking to the delta people and making them hold the plane for me because they changed the boarding time at last minute. Well I made it to my plane on time and boarded. The ride was pretty uneventful. It was a small plane, only 3 seats wide and about 30 rows. When i arrived in NYC I got my bags, YAY they weren't lost!! and got on the little shuttle bus thing and ended up sitting next to a girl that was going to China with NSLI-Y scholarship. We finally found the AFS people and sat down and got lunch and I got some VERY good news. I found out there was going to be another American/NSLI-Yer, in Uglich!!!

The first day of Orientation in NYC was just Russia and China NSLI-Yers. Only 9 were Russian outbounds which was nice because we were able to get to know each other really well. Me and Jenia were the only ones going to Uglich but i was still happy to have found another American that was going to the same city as me. I also got to meet all the kids that I had been talking to for so long! Sean and Zach!! We were pretty much in orientation that whole day but we were told one thing that we didn't know. That we would have to wear dress clothes the next day because the Representative of NSLI-Y was going to come and talk to us. this was bad because for most of us the nice clothes were at the bottom of our suitcases. The next day was pretty boring, ALOT of orientation!!! But there was one amazing thing! I GOT TO FINALLY MEET NICKY!! Nicky is an outbound to Belgium and we have been talking this WHOLE summer, almost every day, and her orientation was on the same day as mine so YAY we got to meet. She gave me this adorable little stuffed animal of Curious George that says "going to Russia" and has a cape that is a Belgian flag!!

The next morning all the Russia and China outbounds had to wake up at like 5 am so that we could get to the Airport like FIVE hours early. We got the the airport uneventfully and got thru security very easily then we waited, and waited and waited and waited for what seemed like ever!! We finally few from NYC to DC then guess what... MORE WAITING we had like a 6 hour layover in DC which didn't seem to long but we were all anxious to get to Russia. Well we boarded our plane at the normal time but we were sitting on the runway for what seemed like forever then they got on and told us that the navigation system was broken and that they had to switch planes. so we all had to get off wait for another hour and re-board another plane. IT was a pain in the butt but better they figure it out before we take off. So then we started on our 10 hour flight!! It was long but we were all sitting together so it passed somewhat quickly. The plane was kinda suckish and we found out that Russians take FOREVER in the bathroom. I personally got complimented twice for how quickly i went to the bathroom.. hmm strange? i thought so. None of us really slept and we knew that we would regret that but its okay.

The first thing we noticed at the Moscow airport was that there was a lot of smoke, apparently Russians are allowed to smoke in the airport which we found odd..Since Americans cant smoke ANYWHERE these days. It took us forever to find out which conveyor belt thingy had our bags but when we finally did we all had our bags YAY! no ones bags got lost so that was a VERY VERY good thing. then we had to go through customs.. which seemed scary. Russian Customs.. well first we had to all wait in a line to get our passports and visas stamped then we went through customs which was strangely easy. no one really got stopped, but we did go through really quickly, so hopefully we wouldn't get stopped/searched.

We then had a "two hour" bus ride to the orientation sight which actually turned out to be 5 hours because of traffic. so all 10 of us plus like 5 volunteers were crammed in to the worlds smallest hottest bus and driven to the site. Most of us slept because it had been more then 24 hours since we slept. When we finally got there we found out that we were the only ones there. We ended up getting there 3 hours late and we were still the first group to arrive. So most of us just wandered around exploring the building. which i still have no idea what it is. there were a lot of kids there but they didn't seem to ever have parents with them. the Russians tried to explain but i didn't know what they meant. oh well.

The next day all the other students arrived and we had our first day of orientations. We played the silly ice breakers we always seem to play with AFS. Then we broke up in to groups based on where we were going and got told about our little regions. i didn't get told anything new but found out there would be a total of 6 in Uglich. 2 Americans, 2 Italians, 2 Germans. all girls except one German boy. I'm happy :). That night we had a "country presentation" where we all had to do something from our country. that's really hard when you come from the USA because honestly.. what is "American". We ended up telling where we were from, showing them the flag then singing "Miss Suzy" which is a song we all learned when we were little.

The next day all the students that weren't in the Yaroslavl Region (I am) left for Moscow so they could take trains to their cities. The rest of us took a bus directly to Yaroslavl. It took a total of about 3 hours but i think the driver took a wrong turn somewhere because we did a lot of turning around. I then took a van to Uglich so that I could meet my family. The van ride was nice because we were with the english teacher at my school (she will also teach me and Jenia Russian) and so we were able to speak in English the whole way there.

They dropped me off at my host families house. So far everything with my family has been good. Me and my sister go out on walks alot. I've visited my school two times so far and I have started practicing a speech (in Russian) that I will have to give on the first day of school, September First. I'm a little nervous about that but Jenia and Laura (a German girl) will be giving the same one so I'm not to scared. Jenia and I will both be in grade 11, which is the last grade. My sister Ksenia, is in that grade to so that will be nice. I've taken a short tour of Uglich with the other students as well. Pictures are up on Facebook and my picture website!!

I'll update more when i have more information I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey as much as i enjoyed writing about it!!