Monday, February 27, 2017

Maslenitsa & Men's Day

This past weekend was a four day weekend! It didn't mean much to me because I was already off those days anyways (except for an individual lesson which they cancelled). There were actually two holidays this weekend, and the first was Maslenitsa. Maslenitsa is a week long celebration for the end of winter characterized by eating blini (Russian crepes). On Sunday people gather for the burning of 'Lady Maslenitsa,' an effigy made out of straw. After she is burned they throw her ashes in the fields to help fertilize the crops. Maslenitsa as an Eastern European pagan holiday, but now it's celebrated as a marking of the Orthodox Lenten season, and is similar to Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday where people eat and do the things they cannot do for 40 days before Easter. If you are interested, you can read a more in depth article of the holiday here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Podcasts I'm Listening To...

"Binge-watch" has become an overused word in my vocabulary (thanks, Netflix). I rarely ever watch shows on an actual television set, especially since moving to Russia. However, the amount of complete television series I have finished on Netflix is sickening. I thought about writing a post on what I've watched since moving to Russia, and my review of them, but I, honestly, won't be able to remember all the shows. I also don't really want to think about how many hours I've wasted watching Netflix. It's definitely way over the average number of hours a person watches television. In my defense, I do watch shows when I cook, get ready, or lesson plan, but I'll be the first to admit I still watch too much.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Gostiny Dvor

Верхнеторговая пл., 1, Ufa, Respublika Bashkortostan, Russia, 450077
This past weekend was pretty relaxing. Friday went by so quickly. I started the day with an individual lesson, then I headed to a coffee shop for my Russian language lesson. Afterwards, Anya, my tutor, Elizabeth, and I headed to Izum for lunch. It was my third time there and every time I'm amazed how good the food is. I ordered the chicken kabobs with cous cous, and I was given the most tender chicken I've ever eaten. The portions are fairly large too. By the time we finished, it was already 5 o'clock! I couldn't believe the day was almost over. I walked home, and spent the rest of the night lesson planning.

Friday, February 17, 2017

On Privacy and Sharing Photos

Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia
Over the last month or so I had several people ask me what happened to A. They were concerned whether or not we had broken up because I haven't talked about him much. Don't worry! We are still together. He was back in his hometown for almost two months visiting his family for New Years.

During that time my blog kind of exploded here in Russia. I felt bad that his picture was being shared and people were leaving comments and mentioning him in them (they were mostly comments about how he should break up with me because I won't make a "good wife"). After reading them I felt guilty he was being dragged into comments made by online trolls. The negative remarks about me didn't bother me so much as the comments about him did. Even though they saying mean things about him he didn't ask to be put in the blog. The dread ate at me for a little while. I immediately went to old blog posts and changed his name and removed some pictures. I needed to respect his privacy, which is why I will be referring to him as 'A' from now on. I don't know how much that will help. I'm not taking him out of this blog completely, but I'm just going to be more conscious about what I share.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Wishing for Summer

As I write this post it is currently -5F, but feels like -18F. I much prefer winter over summer, but every time the end of winter rolls around I can't help but want warm weather again. Honestly, I think winter would be much more bearable if the sun were out longer. The increased hours of darkness kill me, and I think I throw a little party every day, in my mind, when I realize it doesn't get dark until after 6pm now. Soon it will be 7, then 8, then eventually 11! Anyways, this post came about because I went back through my archives to see when it got warm last year. It was the middle of April last year when I was wearing a dress without a jacket or sweater! We are only two months away!

While I was at Innopolis Elmira and I decided to have a photoshoot around the "city." City is in quotes because there wasn't much around. This was actually a two day affair, and I still have more pictures from inside the university, but they are much more difficult to go through and edit. Plus, who doesn't want a reminder of the warm weather? The city isn't big, so I know you've probably seen these views in previous posts. We thought we were going to have to cut this photoshoot early, but it never rained, despite the menacing clouds in the distance. A rainbow even came out to visit us (you can see it in the 5th photo).

Friday, February 10, 2017

Walking on Ice

If I had a dollar for every time I slipped on the ice here in Russia, I'd be able to afford a nice apartment in the center of Moscow. I don't know if my shoes are losing traction or I just walk so fast that I don't pay attention to where I'm stepping, but I now know why women wear heels in the middle of winter: You need something to dig into the ice so you don't fall. After my really bad fall today, where a bruise starting forming in a matter of seconds, I am now going to look into purchasing a pair of soccer cleats.

Monday, February 6, 2017

My Russian Travel Journal

One of my favorite things to do to relax is to work on scrapbooks or my many journals. Back in the USA I have a few scrapbook journals. I'm not an artist in the least, so I tend to focus on mixed media journals rather than drawing or painting. I think I started these journals when I was in middle school. Along with the hobby aspect of it, I have a terrible memory and I'm very sentimental. In some of these journals I keep pictures or notes people have given me over the years that I have no particular place for but I don't want to throw out. My first travel journal was a souvenir given to me by my sister from India. I used it solely to write down every single moment of my trips to Mexico and Southeast Asia. I am almost certain I wrote down every detail, from what I ate to little inconveniences. It is much more personal than my blog.
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