I spent the 18th through the 23rd in Moscow, which was absolutely fantastic. It was so great to see Americans, though I had just gotten back from American not long before; nevertheless, I felt no shame in going to Wendy’s (twice), Dunkin’ Donuts (three times), and even McDonalds (only once, phew), and hanging out most of the time with Americans in our hotel. I felt no shame because, for the next six months I will be lucky if I see an American (or hell I’ll even take a Westerner) not through Skype. And so, I ate it up: the American food, jokes, laughter, and lightness. And I loved every minute of it.
I was very much afraid to leave Moscow and return to Astrakhan. Not that I didn’t necessarily want to come back (I had very mixed feelings about that), but I feared home sickness, major stage 2-ing, and the desire to sleep and only sleep. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I got back on Monday with the sniffles… I have now developed a cold, which is actually fine. I’m okay with that, as it gives me a legit excuse to lay in bed all day. And I haven’t been that active, but yet I’m feeling great being back. I’ve played Santa Claus four times: give cigarettes to a friend, dropped off a bag full of gifts to my colleague and her two sons for which I got some great hugs, gave the two boxes of Apples to Apples to two students of mine, who brought a bag full of fruit and juices to cure my sickness, and gave another student her Woody Doll. These little “gives”, granted not all of them “gifts” per say, have been refreshing, if not simply for the realization of the little things that make people smile.
Besides that it’s cold here. Like -18 celsius cold.. which is, I don’t know some where in the single digits. Supposedly once one hits -40 the temperatures even themselves out. Let’s hope Astrakhan never hits -40, but -18 is still quite cold, especially when you have Soviet windows that let in a lot of the heat, making my dorm room very cold as well. The Russians have well passed their “window taping holiday”, but I didn’t quite make it back in time, as last week it was only -1. So now, I must catch up and tape my windows.
In other news, I wrote a small narrative today for a 90 year old man from the Western Michigan area named Mr. Padnos, who is very very well known and for whom many buildings at GVSU are named after, including Padnos International Center, where our study abroad office is located. In addition, he has a pretty hefty study abroad fund in form of a scholarship, which I so happened to win last year, and which helped me live in Saint Petersburg for an academic year. Cheers, Mr. Padnos. I posted the narrative on the blog, listed in the tabs up top. It’s basically a “Rikki-Russia” life story. Eh.