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Sunday, September 05, 2004

yaroslavl'

well i tried to email a post from the university yesterday, with no apparent success. i'm in yaroslavl now, and getting settled down...the first of my classes start tomorrow, and i have most of the day to wander around the city. my living situation seems pretty ideal - i'm in the center of the city, and living in a nice apartment with an accommodating woman. she works 3 24 hour shifts per week, and spends some time at her dacha, so it sounds like i'll have the place to myself a lot. also, although the food might not stack up compared to what all my friends in europe are eating this year, my housekeeper, larisa anatolievna is a good cook and i've enjoyed everything she's made so far.

so. so much for me. a few more observations on the new and old in russia. i have some great pictures already, but it looks like it might be a while before i can find a computer with a fast enough connection to upload much. all the computers in the internet cafes have the hard drives either locked shut or hidden, so i can't really bring anything in on disk. maybe i'll be able to post from the university.

the university building where i'm studying is about 100 years old, and stands in a square dominated by a truly towering statue of lenin pointing off to somewhere in the distance. the few times i've walked by there have been fresh flowers there. although, of course, remnants of the soviet era are ubiquitous in russia, but many cities didn't keep all of the statues of lenin and what not, so even for russia it's a bit of an unusual sight now. i hope i get a chance to post some photos i took of the architecture in moscow. aside from all the beautiful red square/saint basil's cathedral/GUM photos, there were some really magnificent churches and buildings. the old government buildings were somewhere between extremely imposing and terrifying depending on the time of day, especially the old KBG center near detskii mir and all that. i've never seen anything like it.

i'm rambling a bit. i never really finished talking about moscow, or my train ride from moscow, but suffice it to say i met up with my friends from middlebury, roman and emma, and roman's girlfriend and roman took us around on the metro and then drove us around in his car for more sight seeing. lots of beautiful pictures, for someday in the future. we drove by the place where a lot of the party brass lived in soviet days, and roman told me that people were allegedly buried alive in the walls of the building...

the train ride was an experience as well - about four hours, which wouldn't have been too bad because middlebury sprung for a decent train had we not all had ridiculous amounts of luggage. it was, i think, my first train ride ever, so i guess i can't really compare it to much, but i gather my compatriots found the whole thing amusing. i watched out the windows most of the way as we passed through the little villages and towns. in moscow, running around through the mercedes, bmws, lamborghinis, and cars i'd never even seen outside of magazines, it's easy forget that the vast majority of russia is still living in tremendous poverty. even in yaroslavl, there aren't really good and bad neighborhoods that you can pick out in america by the housing and the cars (or lack their of) on the streets because all the housing is still soviet. so even in a relatively less well off city, things still look better.

well, my last word for now. when i was in moscow 10 people were killed and some 50 or so were wounded in a suicide bombing near a metro station. anywhere that's a tragedy. in russia, i'm realizing, even the 90 people lost on the domestic flights last week had to be quickly buried so russians could begin mourning the 350 some odd people in beslan, and start tending to the additional hundreds of heavily wounded. i heard someone in moscow mention that in russia everything is bigger, and in a word, russia is bigger. i think there might be something to that.

i'm going to go find some lunch and get some money changed.