Thursday, 29 March 2012

Moving again!

Much has happened since I last posted. To summarise the remainder of our time living at Lyudmila's, we spent about 12 hours at a time out of the house and crashed Marc's place quite frequently in order to avoid mental breakdowns and food poisoning. (Thank you Marc). After finding the cockroach in my bed this was pushed to the limit and I turned into a quivering wreck, getting no sleep and experiencing various degrees of exhaustion, depression and mood swings. A Russia low point without a doubt, but I have experienced enough of Russia not to automatically hate all things Russian from this, even though I did start swearing at everyone who dared to get in my way on the street and in the supermarket, cursing their (probably very mixed and un Russian, actually) roots.  When we went into school the next Monday, addresses were still not ready, but we couldn't wait any longer, and so skived off the rest of the day to go home and pack and wait to be taken to the hostel.

Now, convinced as we were that Lyudmila didn't know we were leaving, the nutjob had apparently been informed by the school in no uncertain terms that we would be. This left us confused, given the conversations about us staying and the next excursions, but whatever, we accept the woman is insane. George realised we were packing to leave (because he was, of course, still in the house (fully dressed at least) doing nothing with his life) and turned up every television to max and played some awful dubsteb-esque music loudly, to prove some kind of point unknown. We then stole Lyudmila's cheese in revenge. Because we are hardcore. And were hungry. And know there were no cockroaches in the fridge.

Thus I have had about 10 very lovely days living in the hostel with very lovely people, in my own room, eating food that is certified bug free by me and staying up til 6am watching films with everyone. It is somewhat reminiscent of school, except I don't think we ever stayed up quite that late and the food was ocassionally a little suspicious...apart from the curry, the curry was always amazing.
But now, as I write, I am in my new flat on Fontanka. I was told yesterday that I'd be moving, so got myself packed, and fell out of bed today to a text saying the driver would be there in 20 minutes. Russian time keeping is a bit off, so when they said 'between 12-2pm', I should have suspected that could include 10am.

I think I've said it before, but there's something very evacuee like with the waiting for and meeting of your new host for the first time. The very first time I came to Russia, we pulled up in the train, exhausted, to see a hoarde of scary looking Russians standing round on the platform, piled off one after another, and stood sheepishly in a group opposite, waiting for our names to be called. Despite the problem of speaking practically no Russian at this point, it wasn't as bad as I had expected, but then, nothing ever is, and is always over and done with too quickly to really worry too much. Since then, my understanding of Russian and Russia has improved considerably, but I still feel as if I should have a tag round my neck as my host comes to pick me up. Obviously in Yaroslavl' I had Firdaus embrace me in the courtyard in the middle of the night, her dressed in an animal print dressing gown, which somewhat defused any tension, and knew Hannah was upstairs as my English speaking ally. Lyudmila had made things massively easier by speaking in English from the start, although I feel the filth, her son and her craziness outweighed that in the end. So today was not a nervous time for me.

The flat is very big. Sprawling. You keep turning corners expecting it to end, and it just keeps going. Fortunately for me, my room is the very last on the right, so I shouldn't get lost. I have just as much storage as when I was with Lyudmila but the room is much bigger, with a proper desk and chair still, old style soviet windows and high ceilings. Fontanka is a region of Petersburg that used to house all of the old noble families, so the places are nice here. It's on the Fontanka Embankment, a branch of the Neva, although my room overlooks a road and not the river, and is pretty central to everything.
Viktor greeted me, speaking clear Russian (I'm told the St Petersburg accent is the nicest of Russia) although he does speak English. I can essentially understand him, but as always, replying is not easy. He's a chiropractor and his wife, Larissa, is a teacher of English and Russian but currently in Helsinki.
They have a son who lives here (I think) and there's an English student too, who may or may not be on my course...I don't know. So unobservant.

I have possibly already made myself look a bit of an idiot by trying to do an impression of a cockroach when I couldn't think of the word, but the soon they know, the better, I suppose!

The wifi appears to be locked, which is a shame. It was amazing that we got to use Lyudmila's for free, even though it often broke, because skype worked perfectly and video calls were easy. I did buy a dongle during the week when I was at the hostel, because I can't go 2 days without internet, but the connection is often a bit dodgy. The good thing is, though, that unlike other times when you arrive at a new homestay, I'm already able to get online and google map where I am, figure out what's around me and how to get to places. An essential part of settling down, for me, is feeling like I know what I'm doing. That's why, in general, the first few days are difficult, not knowing people, or where you are, or what to do, having no routine and no internet to idly browse for hours on end and settling for playing marathon solitaire/chess tournaments against the laptop gets boring and allows you to dwell on how awful it's all going to be. (It's not). I've learnt to always take the sims3 and some movies with me to get me through those first few days. A bit of Simmish is always a welcome distraction.

Anyway. Viktor has assured me that if I have any problems they will sort them out, that I can come and go as I please, sleep in the morning, afternoon or night and even eat breakfast whenever I feel like it. It is a promising start, and it's nice to be unpacked after not bothering in the hostel, so let's hope it stays that way. I might have to go and make myself look less like I've just rolled out of bed in order to go out and find the nearest produkti, because I am A. starving and B. needing to buy a kinder egg for my friend's birthday...(Because I'm but really, she wants one..)

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