So two weeks ago all of the students in the Yaroslavl region had a mandatory afs camp that we had to go to in a smaaaaaall town in the northern part of the Yaroslavl region: Любим (Lubim). Unfortunately we had all had leave from Yaroslavl at 11 am which means that in order to get there on time everyone from Uglich had to leave Uglich at 7 am which meant waking up at 5 which didn’t make me too happy.
The bus we took from Yaroslavl to Lubim may have possibly been the worse bus ride that I have ever been on in my entire life. It was so bumpy that me and Jenia were asleep and when they would go over a particularly big bump we would both go “oww” it would wake us up out of our sleep it was that bumpy and just over all bad. Thank the lord that it was only 2 hours long or I think I might have gotten carsick! Needless to say we didn’t get to sleep much so we were pretty tired by the time we got to Lubim but we had a full schedule for the day so there was no sleeping in sight.
It seems to me that every small town in Russia feels the need to have a museum about the history of their town (even if its not all that interesting to be honest, they all seem to have the same stuff) and Lubim is no exception to this rule. So we went to see the museum, which turned out to be kind of strange. It went from the history of the town, to random wild animals, the room filled with Lenin, to a room that had all sorts of old cameras and record players. Me and jenia spent most of our time there taking pictures with all of the things, not just your regular picture but fun ones (evidence in my picture website).
After the Museum we had to go to a bread factory that was in that town. Honestly I think that I’ve decided that factory tours just are not a good thing to do because once you see how something is made you don’t really want to eat it any more. I don’t know the rules for how things are to be made in the USA but the one we went to here didn’t seem very clean to me. They didn’t even wear GLOVES!! I don’t know, I'm sure that it was fine but still I think that I’m going to refrain on going on any more factory tours in my lifetime I do strongly believe that there are times when ignorance really is bliss. Then the topper on the cake (get it, it’s a sweets factory haha! Wow my joke making abilities are dyeing in Russia!) Is that after we had the tour they invited us to a party up stairs where we got to sample all of their products!
Then after that we finally got to meet our new families, yes we got MORE families to live with for the weekend. It turned out that I had a girl that was around my age and her parents, after I met her we started to walk to her home which took us about 20 minutes which wouldn’t have been bad except it was pretty coooold! Then once I got to her house her mom told me something that I never actually thought that I would hear. She told me that they did not have running water in the house.
It was one of those moments where I had to consciously check my face because I knew that if I didn’t I would make that face where your jaw drops open slowly and your eyes get really big...you know the one. Well pretty much the only response I could come up with was “oh, okay that’s normal” I didn’t know how I was supposed to respond to that and honestly what was running through my head was “okay, so how am I going to do this for 2 days without water. I know people do this every day but I never have”
It wasn’t as traumatizing as you might think (and to a girl who thinks camping is a crappy motel …thanks mommy…) I thought that living without running water would be VERY traumatizing! Because I was there for only a few days it didn’t really effect me but let me tell you that flushing the toilet and brushing my teeth became infinitely more complicated without running water.
The next day we had to all meet up at the school so that we could go to an even smaller village to go to a school there. Most of the stuff that we did at the school was the typical stuff afs does to show off its students but we did do one interesting thing.
This day was a holiday in Russia what they called “masleeneetsa” which is really their way of celebrating lent but they say that it’s the celebration of spring because during the USSR they were not allowed to celebrate Lent. Well in order to celebrate springs arrival (mind you it was snowing REALLY hard while we were celebrating) all of us afs students and all of the students at the school we were at stood around what seemed to be a scarecrow type thing that was in the form of a woman. Then the next thing I heard was about every AFS student screaming and jumping back because they LIT IT ON FIRE!!!! Yes that’s right we were in a group of about fifty holding hands singing in a circle around a burning woman type thing.
If you could have seen the looks on all of our faces it probably would have been a priceless picture! Well this celebration didn’t last for too long because it was freezing and snowing pretty hard so we had to go back inside because we were all getting soaked. We all later found out that this is a completely normal tradition in Russia and something that is very important to them in welcoming spring (or celebrating lent, how ever you want to see it).
That was pretty much how we ended our trip to Lubim which definitely proved to be a very interesting experience but it made me realllllllly miss my host family and my host city of Uglich!
For more current news: I went and saw a Russian Ballet! We saw Swan Lake.
Me and Jenia had long ago decided that we wanted to see a ballet before we left Russia and last Saturday we got to do just that. SO Saturday morning we ventured to Yaroslavl and after a few false starts we made it to our friend Bettina’s house on the bus, ALL by our selves! Which is a big thing because we had never taken that bus before and we had never gone to her house alone before! But we did make it to her house and there we waited for the other girl that was going to go with us: Palin from Thailand. While we waited for her we got dressed up in our nice cloths.
We must have looked pretty silly on the streets in our dresses and skirts then, rain boots. Yes we all wore rain boots because now that its starting to warm up here the mountains of snow and lack of drainage system is proving to equal GIANT lakes forming around cities! So we now live in rain boots!
We finally got to the theater right on time, at 700 for a 700 pm showing. This is very Russian seeing as they ballet hadn’t even begun yet and most people were just arriving. At about 730 it actually started and let me tell you, it was BEAUTIFUL!
I never really took myself to be someone who would enjoy watching a ballet but seriously guys it was sooooo beautiful! I’m very glad that it was a story that I’ve heard before because it was a little confusing because ballets don’t have any words and the programs were in Russian so it was hard to read. But we did manage to figure out what was going on and understand about 90% of the program! YAY!
In theory we were not allowed to take pictures or video but being the foreigners that we were we “didn’t understand” when they told us that and we took them anyways (so did a WHOLE bunch of Russians, we weren’t alone!) so if you mosey on over to my picture site there should be a bunch of pictures of the ballet and even a video or two (but you have to scroll down for those!)
Over all I’m very very glad that we went to the ballet because it was just sooo beautiful and I personally think that it’s really cool that I saw my first ballet in Russia. It was a great experience that I’m glad that I have! And if I get a chance to go to another one here I will definitely be taking it!
So just for a quick update on general things… THE SUN HAS FOUND RUSSIA AGAIN!!!! After 3 months of basically living without sun it seems to have found its way back and is slowly melting the mountains of snow that we have! Its starting to get warm again, granted, by warm I mean that its about 35 degrees! But 35 degrees means that I no longer have to wear tights underneath my pants, I only have to wear one pair of socks, and a hat and gloves aren’t 100% necessary! So for me I’m happy with 35 right now even though 80 would be nice!
So that’s my life as of the last couple of weeks, if you have any questions that you would like to answer or things you want me to talk about comments are ALWAYS welcomed (yes, this is a hint!)