Monday, July 23, 2007

Russia - Day 1

Hello all!

I have a nice long entry for you all detailing my journey here, but it's on my laptop, which I have not yet gotten connected to the internet.

Right now, I am sitting in an internet cafe in downtown Yaroslavl! I find it strange, still, to think that I am actually here. The fact that all of the instructions on this blog-entry page are in Russian should probably tip me off. Good thing I pretty much know where the ones are that I use to post.

So, what to share? I've been in Yaroslavl for about 24 hours now. In that time, I slept very well, despite the jack-hammer like noise of the tram going by and a male voice that kept making unintelligible announcements over a loudspeaker outside the hotel during the night. Between the Soviet-like decor of the hotel and the noises outside, it felt a little like I had stepped into a Cold War era science fiction novel. 1984-esque, you know? It's kind of fun.

All of our meals are provided at the hotel's restaurant, a room that seems to double as a dance room. I assume this based on the mirrored and pink-curtained walls, the wooden floor, the keyboard and microphone in the corner and, best of all, the disco ball that revolved over us all through dinner. The food served are as follows:
Breakfast - Yogurt (I forgot how good European yogurt is!), ham, cheese, eggs, and a roll.
Lunch - Green apples, Cole slaw (with peas), potato and beef soup, Meatballs with rice and some kind of orange gravy, and rye bread and rolls.
Dinner - A salad made of olives, mushrooms, apples, and peas covered with a glob of mayonaise and shredded egg whites, fried chicken breast with potatoes, and delicious vanilla ice cream with crushed almonds on top.

I think I will get my fill of potatoes very quickly. The meals are heavy, and full of starch, but they keep the portions reasonable, and I feel like my body's adjusting to it okay. I felt a little off yesterday, but I've been drinking water constantly, and that seems to help. I learned my lesson about staying hydrated while traveling when I was in Scotland with Emily. Our room has a little fridge in it, so I've been collecting water bottles as I go and plan to keep the fridge stocked so I can get water whenever. Plus, my tablemates were very impressed when I said, "Excuse me, I need some water please," to the waiter in Russian.

Activities for the day included 1) An orientation to the program, including our placements for the week. I'll be going to the summer camp for orphans tomorrow, and, later in the week, the hospital for kids, the deaf kindergarten, and the hospital for women. I'm excited about the placements and eager to start the work. 2) Russian lessons. Today was the basics, but they geared them towards our work, so a lot of the phrases were new to me. Things like "Let's draw!" and "Give me the ball/crayon/scissors/jump rope" were not covered in my Russian classes in college. 3) A walking tour of the city. We got a lot of the history and saw a lot of churches. I am taking pictures on my camera, which I promise I will post as soon as I can.

So, things are going well. I'm feeling the jet lag today, but I think the switch to Russia time will go fairly smoothly. They keep us busy during the day, which helps. No naps!

Until I get online again, thank you for the well wishes by email and happiness to you all!

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