Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Fun!

So on Saturday February 26th we went into Red Square because we wanted to go see Lenin’s Mausoleum which is where is body is just laying there being preserved for everyone to look at. He was a big leader back in the 1900’s and I don’t know really any of the history on him I just know he was part of the Revolution of Russia but anyway he is a big part of history for Russia so we wanted to go see that and maybe take the tour through St. Basil’s Cathedral and then go to the Kremlin and go through the armory and see the crown jewels and such.  We were all so excited so we got up early and got ready and headed out about 10am. None of us had any breakfast and so by the time we got to Red Square Daphne, Maddi, and I were starving so we grabbed a Danish pastry thing out of the little metro vender’s station. I was a little weary at first because even though the metros are nice they are not clean so I was thinking aaahh food from the metro station I don’t know but I was so hungry I went for it. I just pointed to this little Danish thing that looked like it had cream cheese in the middle and when the lady handed it to me it was soooo warm I couldn’t’ wait to try it. It was so good I could have eaten like 10 of them. So I was happy that I tried something different and exciting and got a good result from.

So anyways by the time we walked and got to the mausoleum it was 12:35. Well the last group can go in at 12:30 so we missed it by five min but then we were thinking it wouldn’t have worked anyways because we had to go in two groups because you can’t take anything in with you so one group has to stay outside and hold everything then you would switch off. So we really didn’t think about that part. But no big deal because we headed to the Cathedral and saw that tickets were only 50 Rubles to get in, which is like $1.50. We were like heck yeah let’s go!! 

I can’t believe that I went into St. Basil’s Cathedral in RUSSIA!! How crazy is that? When you walk inside that amazement of something so beautiful and so skillfully done artwork just hits you in the face. I’ve never seen something so beautiful before. And everything in that place was hand painted and the detail is so unbelievable I wish I could have taken pictures to show and always remember.  But pictures aren’t allowed unless you want to pay a lot more money for a different ticket, so I tried to take as many mental pictures as I could. So I’ll put up some pics that other people were willing to pay for!!  We just would step into another spiral and be amazed at the craftsmanship at each one we walked through. We just kept looking at each other and saying, “guys we are INSIDE St. Basil’s Cathedral, in RUSSIA!!! How cool is that?!”  

We then headed over to buy tickets to go inside to Kremlin and go tour the Armory and other interesting history things like carriages, crown jewels, all sorts of gold and silver works of art, clothing, war items like the armor and guns and swords, and just so many amazing things. Again cameras were for sure not allowed in so I just took some mental pictures but I loved looking at the carriages and then all the jewelry they would wear. It’s crazy the necklaces and earrings they would wear, they just looked so heavy and uncomfortable. Then there were all these bibles with amazing covers with all sorts of jewels and gold and silver carvings. I was looking at this one portrait outline and it had two of the biggest emeralds I have ever seen on it. They were amazing and I loved staring at them just because that’s my birthstone!  

We ran into some ladies and they all had missionary tags on so we were like yeah we’ll go talk to them and found out they are the wives of all the mission presidents around and while their husbands were all in meetings and doing their church business the wives decided to take a tour of a few things. It was nice to talk to them and just get that familiarity of home.  So the entire tour took about two hours with all our stopping and talking with each other and other people and just standing in amazement of a lot of things. It was nice because we were able to get an audio tour guide thing that was in English and we were able to hear an explanation of a lot of the items we were looking at. We wanted to see some more things that are inside the Kremlin walls but we weren’t sure how to get to them and whether we had to go buy some different tickets so we went to Sbarro’s Pizza and got a slice of pizza and some cheesecake. It was good but still not as good as pizza from Pizza Hut, but the cheesecake is amazing even if it was just plain! Daphne, Maddi, Jessica, Lexi and I had such a good day. It was so fun and relaxing and we just had a blast laughing with each other and hanging out. 

When we were done with Red Square we wanted to go to the grocery store again to get a few things we wanted.  So we jumped on the metro and headed to where we thought the store was, well we were all just sitting in our seats waiting for our stop and when the metro stopped at this one stop we just stayed on cause it wasn’t what we needed, well we looked around and EVERYONE had gotten off the metro and the driver was saying something over the intercom in Russian and we realized he was telling us to get off. We wouldn’t have known that but there was a nice gentlemen waiving at us to get off. We don’t know what was going on so we just waited for another metro to come along and watch everyone laughing at us because we had no idea what was going on!  Well we had a few problems trying to find the grocery store but eventually we made it and were able to get the things we wanted. And when I was checking out I was trying to get all my stuff in my bag and get out of the way I realized I didn’t have my wallet which yes has my passport in it, I turned around and the lady that was behind me and pushing me out of the way had my wallet and was yelling something to me in Russian and all I could do was go to her and say spasiba, spasiba. Which is thank you, thank you, I just quickly looked to see if my passport was still in there and quickly walked away. I was so embarrassed and felt sooooooo stupid, but at least I was able to get it back!  

We headed home to just crash because it had been such a long day and we were just extremely tired and wanted to either watch a movie or just go to bed. We ended up just going to bed and when Sunday morning came, Daphne, Maddi and I all looked at each other and were like we can’t move we just want to sleep in and relax, so that’s what we did. I stayed in my pjs all day and we just watched a movie, and I read my scriptures for like two hours and just chilled. It was really nice to just have a relaxing day to physically and mentally prepare for the upcoming week.

Wednesday Feb 23rd

So today we had a day off because it was Mens' Day which is a Russian Holiday. School was closed so it was nice to have a day off in the middle of the week. There was a hockey game going on and so half the girls went with the other groups and saw it along with buying our tickets to the Russian Ballet!! Oh yeah we are going to Swan  Lake on April 23rd I can’t wait I’m really excited and just keep thinking how I can’t wait to get all dressed up and go out on the town and see a ballet. It’s also April so the weather should be pretty nice and enjoyable to walk in!

 Anyways they went to the game and Daphne, Maddi and I just took it easy for a bit then got ready and headed into town to go find the souvenir shop. Finding things is always an adventure around here. Mainly because you think that you know where you are going and you use the directions that the last group left hoping they will take you to the right place and then they don’t so you have to just guess and hope for the right outcome. So the directions said to get off on one stop so we did and started looking around and we couldn’t anything that resembled the souvenir market we were looking for. I saw this store looking thing so we decided to go inside and see what it was and get a little warm. Well it was just like an indoor shopping market but it was a lot of food items. And we passed so many little meat counters, and I was looking at things going ‘I know what this is and what that is.’ It brought me back to home for a minute. It’s interesting the way Russian’s shop, things are just so random and seem to be out of place but to them they know what they want and where to find it. 
Once we decided we were at the wrong stop and there was no possible way of backtracking without getting back on the metro we head to the station and waited for the next metro and headed back two stops. When we stepped out from the metro station we knew exactly where the market was and headed straight towards it. It was really, really cold outside and by the time we got to the actual market about 90% of the little stands were closed and gone. So we were only able to look at a few things and kind of get an idea about what we would want and now we know where to go. They had all sorts of fur hats and gloves and jackets and other random items. There were several stands with the nesting dolls and then there were some stands with these eggs and wow they are so pretty.  They open up and have little surprises in them like a sculpture of the cathedrals or something like that.  

Since most everything was gone and we were frozen we headed back to this mall to go inside and warm up and eat our lunches. Once inside we found this food court and I wish I knew Russian better so I could have order something but I was able to just point at the cheesecake and the lady knew what I wanted. Daphne and Maddi were able to get Baskin Robin’s ice cream which they enjoyed very much. Now that we had eaten our lunch and our delicious dessert and warmed up we headed home for a nice relaxing night. 

We made it home way before the other girls so we just got ready for bed and settled in to watch a movie. Watching movies is sort of our thing to help keep us connected to home. Maddi has like 200 or more movies on her USB drive so we have plenty to choose from when we need a break. So all in all it was a good day off and we were able to go and explore on our own and not get lost. I am feeling more comfortable about getting around but it will still take awhile to get everything down pat but hey I still have 3 1/2 months to do it!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Little Catch Up

So  I know I haven't written in awhile but time just seems to get away from me. When I think I have to time write i am always just trying to get my lessons prepared and prepare myself. Things are going ok so far, it has almost been a month that we have been here so that's pretty exciting. they say the first month is the hardest and I hope they are right because i'm really hoping for some changes to come in the next few weeks.

This past weekend we were able to go to a Basketball Game which was interseting. they play the same here so nothing to exciting to tell about. It was fun to hear the other fans all yelling and chanting in Russian. I guess Basketball isn't a big thing in Russia so we had almost court side seats. We were like three rows up so that was nice not to have anyone in our way.  It was nice to get out and see the other groups and talk to them about how they are doing and adjusting.

Then we went to church on Sunday. It took us THREE hours to get there and yes it starts at 9:30am. We got up around 5 and started getting ready because we had to be at the bus stop at 6:30 and it's about a ten min walk to get there from our place. I will admit I was not looking forward to wearing a skirt all day in the freezing cold because the temp lately has been around -30 degrees Celsius so yeah skirt and tights did not sound fun!! But we made through all the transportation we needed. A bus ride, 2 Metro rides, and then a 15 minute walk to the church building. I thought I would see the familiar church and steeple but nope, I'm not sure where it was but I first thought we were going to an underground church. But the little building was cute and felt homey! It was nice to meet people and hear their voices, and know we aren't alone anymore!! The services are all the same and all in English.

After the three hours there was a little cooking class for the relief Society and she had lunch for us too so we stayed after and had a quick lesson and a quick lunch. Two of the girls talked to President Kosak and said he is a really great guy and we all should meet with him and if we need anything he is there to help us. So that's nice and comforting. This week when we go back I'm going to talk to him and see if he can help me with a few things. I think it will be nice talking to someone who doesn't know me or anything about me. It was a really good day and a really good way to start the week out.  I hope to continue writing and telling you all that I can.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday Feb 12th

My roommates and I were all excited for the weekend and to finally get out of the community and had plans that we wanted to go into town and spend all day Saturday doing and seeing what we could. But then on Friday night we got any email from the embassy that said there was a riot going on down town if you’re American stay away it wasn’t safe. Well our native coordinator Guliya hadn’t heard about it yet so she was planning on us going to see an art museum and our group was like we don’t feel comfortable going so count us out. When she heard about the riot she was like, no way are we going.  I’m cancelling it for everyone. Everyone just needed to stay at their apartments or around them and not travel into town anywhere near it. 

We were bummed because we just wanted out. So we decided to head to the little shopping areas around the University and go shopping there just so we were away from down town and anything that was going on. We were so happy to get out and to see other people and do things. Its nice living in the country but it’s also hard because it takes so long to get anywhere.  It was sooooo cold outside but we still braved the weather and walked around. A lot of the shops are just like little street venders and they try and get you to come into their little area and buy their stuff. We just were in a browsing mood so we just quickly went through and glanced at their stuff. I found a few things that were cool like a fur coat, ha-ha yeah it was $35,000 and that’s American dollar value. So I think I’m looking for the fake ones!! And the fun Russian fur hats for men were like $120. It was still fun to look at them and feel how soft they were. We didn’t spend too much time because we were all getting really cold and knew we had a long ride home ahead of us. 

So nothing to adventurous we stayed away from all the exciting things which was a good idea because it sounded like things got a little out of hand and many people were hurt and arrested. I was happy knowing that our embassy was looking out for us and told us to stay away. We were also told we shouldn’t go to church either because our church is near everything that was going on. We were bummed about not being able to go to church this week because we didn’t go last week, but better safe than sorry!  

So yeah that was pretty much my week in a nut shell, hopefully I’ll start having more adventures to tell you all about in the coming weeks when we head to Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Awesome huh!! I would have never believed I would make to anywhere like that in my life and now I get the chance and I’m sooooo excited.  And then at the end of our time here for ILP we are taking the last week and going to Poland to see all the concentration camps and museums we can!  Just another amazing adventure awaiting my arrival.

Week Two (February 7th -13th)

Well nothing exciting to really report on this past week. It’s just been teaching day after day then coming home relaxing and preparing for another day. Working with kids is definitely something that you need patience for.  And I mean A LOT of patience. These kids really know how to test us and push every last button.  I guess it doesn’t help that we have come into a bad situation already. Story behind that is:  last semester the teachers were not happy and really wanted nothing to do with teaching or following curriculum so they let the kids do what they wanted and not really listen to any of the rules. And boom now here we are trying to do our jobs and enforce the rules and actually teach the children and they hate us. That’s right they hate us and want to drop out of the program. Fun right? Not. So we just have to wait it out and continue to do what we have come here to do and just let the children warm back up and realize we aren’t that bad and we really do want to help them.  So yeah this week was definitely a week of trials and just helping each other get through and telling ourselves it will get better it’s only the beginning.  

This experience is definitely something different and I hope it to be even more amazing then I imagined. It’s been hard to be away from and everyone and everything that is so familiar and to hear about how life went on even though I left.  Like things/problems at work haven’t changed, mom and dad are actually doing OK and handling things there without me, grandma and grandpa Bartschi are still actually waiting for the VA money, Jessica is around to talk too and tell me how much she still wants a new job, Crystal and Dustun are still in Texas awaiting any information about what to do with their lives and so on.  I know everyone is thinking about me and wishing me the best so that is the important to always remember. Even though their lives are continuing so is mine and I will have such an amazing story to tell at the end of all this! 

When my roommates and I are all sitting around talking we keep making a mental note about when and how soon do we not only get to go back home to family, but just to America and  to all the things we miss.  Today Sunday February 13th we counted and we will be home in 112 days. We all joked that we should make a paper chain to count the days down. 

This weekend was the first time I did laundry. Ha yeah that was an experience. Washers over here really aren’t washers. They are more like machines you put your clothes in to get wet then they come out and you hang them to dry. And they don’t dry all nice and soft and warm like they do at home. No, they dry all crunchy and you don’t get that wonderful smell of fabric softener!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day ten (Sunday Feb. 6th)

Well we didn’t make it to church this Sunday because we were all so tired from Saturday night. It’s kind of nice to just relax and do nothing but then at the same time it’s really hard because I’m not doing anything and it gives me time to think about everyone and how I miss being in constant contact with them.  And then I sit and think what are they doing? Where are they?  I wish I could be doing something like just watching TV!! It will be weird to come back to the states and do things that seem so normal but will be weird to me.  

All I can say, is I give a lot of praise to Travis and all other missionaries that are gone for two years.  I mean I’m 23 and I still want to be around family, I can’t imagine being 19 and having to leave. You never realize how important people are in your life till you leave them and to look at pictures makes me miss everyone more.  I know my home sickness will go away and eventually I will feel like this is somewhat of a home to me but it’s hard when I’m so much older than everyone and have different interests and ideas about things. I can only give in so much without losing myself.  I know it’s only week one!!  

I probably won’t be writing as much now because my days during the week will pretty much be the same so I’ll just start posting the fun stuff that you all want to know about!!! Love to all :)

Day nine (Saturday Feb. 5th)

WOW can you believe it; I’ve been here for seven days already. It actually has seemed to go by really slow. But now that we are into teaching and we will have cultural and Russian class once a week, one day at the University and two days at the sports complex, time will fly by; along with everything else we want to do. We found out that church is at 9:30 which means we have to leave our bus stop at 6:30 in the morning to account for all the time on buses and metros.  Wow! That’s what I was afraid of. But we all decided we at least wanted to go a few times. We will just see how our Saturday’s turn out and what we feel like on Saturday night then decide if we want to go that week. I did say the weather hasn’t been too bad, but that’s a long time to ride the cold buses and metros with tights and a skirt on! 

So it’s Saturday morning and I’ve been up since 8 writing and just thinking while eating my Russian potato chips and drinking my Russian Fanta drink! Today is just going to be a relax and finally clean our house day and do any laundry then we are headed to Red Square for pizza and just to walk around. It’s so hard to actually clean our place because Russian’s do not believe in vacuums. So everything is swept which it’s hard to sweep off the huge rug that’s on our floor and when it looks like it’s never been cleaned before us! At least our floors are vinyl so they are easy to sweep. 

Red square was awesome at night the way things are lit up is amazing. We were so excited to see it again and take several more pictures. We passed a few theaters and that made us all want to go to the ballet’s and plays more.  I can’t wait to start going into a lot of these places and seeing what they are like inside because if they are this beautiful on the outside the inside has to be even better.