Saturday, October 3, 2009
Finally, an update
After about a month in Russia, things are finally starting to become normal. In the first month, way too much seemed to be going on. My Rotary Guarantee Forms had the wrong address, wrong names, phone number, and everything for my host family. The person who was supposed to be my Counselor turned out to be a random Russian woman who had no idea who I was, I was having problems with my host brother, and I was stuck in an apartment with just him, and the kitchen had no food or water so some days I had to buy all my own food and drink which started to be too pricy. I was given the wrong directions from my university trying to get home and got taken to a bus station in a place I had never been, had to get off the bus, ran out of credits on my cell phone, and then was unable to receive calls on my cell phone because my SIM card was acting up. I was almost chased by dogs, found out I had much less money than I expected, and then had someone buy a ticket for me to Irkutsk that costs about $400 even though I told her I didn't think I could afford it. So, to put it simply, I had a very rough month. With all of that plus troubles back home, I really am suprised I was able to stay somewhat positive through all of it. Things are finally working themselves out and I am still with my host family and my host brother and I get along pretty well now.
Even though I end up using lots of English each day because of the fact that I am surrounded by students and people eager to practice with a native speaker, I have been picking the language up much sooner than I expected. The Russian language seemed very complex when I first began studying, but soon I realized that is just another language. It is a language that expresses itself differently and because of that it forces you to have to think differently as well, which is something I was really excited about because I've always wanted to learn a language that would force me to think differently when I express myself, if that makes any sense. What I mean is, Romance languages like Portuguese, French, Spanish, etc., are very easy to learn for an English speaker because all you have to learn is conjugations, a few pronouns, and from there just plug in nouns and you are almost done. But with Russian, you have to learn about all of that but also declensions, aspect, and even after that it is another thing to speak it and sound naturally because Russian speakers tend to use their words in a variety of different orders instead of the simple Subject-Verb-Object. I won't get too nerdy on the language, but I am really enjoying this more than anything else.
When it comes to Russian culture and just living in a Russian city, the one world I can use to describe it all is "wow." My city is more diverse then probably most Russian cities, but the diversity is still small. The city is obviously mainly white, with a small Oriental population and, I am not joking at all when I say this, 3 black people. I make the fourth. So, you can imagine that every single day I come out, I get crazy looks from people and get asked for my photo every single day. After about a week or so I adjusted and now I just have fun with it. The people here do not smile at all when they walk the streets, and at first I felt very uncomfortable and didn't know whether I would be safe here, but I realized that it's just the way people carry themselves here. The people are very friendly, and actually treat me very nicely. When people see me they usually get really excited and act very funny. I also must add that the Russian girls have bad Jungle Fever...
So, that is a quick summary of my first month here. I leave for Irkutsk Monday night and I will be putting on photos on my Facebook soon. So keep reading and stay posted. If you haven't added me on Facebook yet, just search for Torrey Payne from Charlottesville, VA and you should find me!