Sunday night, and by big I mean midnight…

would almost say that keeping this detailed of a record is more taxing than actually being a stranger in a strange land, but it’s just not.

I honestly didn’t expect a 2 pm tour of town to become a 10 hour excursion. Maybe I should just learn to stop expecting things? In any case, Tatiana got me all bundled up (4 layers on top, and she still wasn’t quite satisfied) and we left early so that she could properly show me the buses, our stop, where I get off for school, walk me all the way to school from there, point out a rainbow, walk back to the stop, get on another bus, take it to our designated meeting place, and hand me over to Jack. This all before 2.
Indeed, he helped me check my card balance for my phone and laughed when it showed ‘minus 5’. We wandered the city, saw some landmarks, including the school and the local mall, where I was pleased to discover shampoo was sold, and in general spoke in English. You all think this is funny. It is not. Decidedly not. Not when after a day of mainly Russian you come home with a headache. Which in my experience sometimes becomes everyday. Though that may be the cloud of smoke enveloping the entire country…
We then met our tutors, some of whom are more forthcoming than others. I guess this is the part where I say ‘look I made friends!’ but it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. We did end up getting me a SIM card so that I can get Internet connection on my laptop, and going out to dinner, but the main takeaway from tonight is definitely my fellow classmate Carson. She studied here last semester, and is back to complete the academic year. I would give anything to be able to understand our Russian friends like she does. A semester makes all the difference. But I feel like its after that first semester that real growth occurs. When we discussed the possibility of studying during the summer and I mentioned Leah’s graduation, I learned that even if you choose to study abroad offer the summer, you have to come home first and get a new visa. So if I wanted to, this is completely possible…
Of course this is the adventuresome, confident Mary talking, who is currently pretending not to feel the intense culture shock. There are PLENTY of good reasons not to come back this summer. But time will tell.
So today I learned the bus system (mostly), bought groceries successfully, made friends (ish), fixed my phone, and stayed out all night. Not to mention the crazy fatigue that happens when your’e outside in negative 10 degrees, and your knees or or joints freeze up at the first available chance. And tomorrow morning is only the first official day. Wish me luck!

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