Monday, January 08, 2007

Between trips

We are home for the next 36 hours. As Jeremy may have told you, we came back on Sunday from a very thirsty camp. How eloquent his explanation was of the nutritional end of life there! I would like to add that by the second day I had an idea about how governments condition people at special camps. Nothing will alter your mood quite as quickly as a bad/good meal! Nuf said!

Traveling to an area where there is a specific purpose in a culture like a camp, is always a new experience, of course. In Korea we had Membership Training (MT's) which shed new light on social interactions between student-student relations as well as student-teacher relations. It was more fun than I expected. At this camp, the same can be said about observing the culture especially since I have had few interactions with kids here in general. My class was incredibly mixed as far as ability went, but by trying to keep the class upbeat, we played enough games, I think, we both felt satisfied in our fun0meters by the time Jeremy and I left. It was interesting to watch the kids with one another. I learned they are not very different from US kids, teasing, chatting, laughing. One thing I noticed is the touch element is more prevalent good or bad as it may be. Girls love hooking arms or holding hands and many would do the same to the teachers, but on the flip side, several kids also had no problem smacking each other when a joke or tease went too far. It was usually ignored and ended quickly on its own, but I didn't like seeing it since it made me think of the impending abuse that awaits many Russian brides in the future. Domestic abuse is commonplace and barely talked about, but as I have read countless times in our folktales book, it an unblinking truth. Please don't think the folktales book is my only source of proof though. I could go on, but I don't want to get too dark with this post!

Anyway, I loved being with the kids and we had fun, but I don't think I could go through another one. There are several reasons, the strongest being the food and the second being that it was my last obligation to a certain person and now I am done giving her the opportunity to use me. We are off to Turkey- ya ya. See you later!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Gong hee fat choy

Well, did you have a nice New Year's? Although Jeremy and I had been invited to ring in the new year with our buddy Dan, we were beginning to feel a little partied out, so we declined the invite and just spent a cozy evening together. Jeremy had been talking about taking me to this nice restaurant in the Renaissance hotel a few tram stops away, so braving the bitter cold (it was 5 degrees), we took a walk there for dinner. Unfortunately the restaurant wouldn't be open until 10 for a New Year's party. I had been hoping for a cheeseburger and fries, but luckily the cafe below it had a few choices. I had the roast beef and potatoes, a glass of wine and apple strudel, so I am definitely not complaining about us having to resort to plan B. We also walked around the hotel a bit. There was a ten foot tree and two large gingerbread houses in the lobby and an odd mix of Christmas songs could be heard, putting me in good spirits.

Afterwards, we headed home to find someone had left some fir tree branches in a jar of water and sprinkled a few strands of tinsel on it for us and our neighbors to enjoy when we leave our apartment floor. I think I might add a peace crane and ornament to it... we then enjoyed time together and watching Godfather Part 2 until firecrackers boomed and fizzled outside. We watched them glitter and disappear for a bit before surprisingly found they were putting us to sleep. I read one last Russian folktale to my love before we said good-bye to 2006 forever.

I haven't made any real resolutions since I kind of started thinking of a new strategy for my time here a few weeks ago anyway. The plan is to practice my Russian lessons without Katya around to gain come confidence in speaking. Just Saturday I went to the market and got myself a very nice head of cabbage. I understood everything the lady there said to me- success! I am also going to start making new friends and spending time outside of the ELC. I am beginning to feel a bit used, so I think distancing myself will do me some good.

Today I made blinies (if you click on the word bliny you'll be privy to my recipe) and we finished the Godfather which got me in the mood for Italian so I whipped up a spinach lasagna for my love. I am glad 2006 is over although I don't really believe it has come to an end. It might take me a few days.

Another factoid about the Russian holiday
In Russia, some people get dressed up in costumes for New Years, especially kids so it's kind of like New Years, Xmas and Halloween rolled into one day.