Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last few hours in DC

Orientation just finished this morning and I am leaving in less than thirty minutes for the airport. The orientation was well put together and very informative. It covered everything from host families, to drinking, to linguistic gain, to cultural perspectives. Through the Orientation I learned that I tested to an Intermediate-Low on a linguistic scale. I have decided to aim for a 2/2+ during the course of my stay. By comparrison, a low class city person in a large city may only tests to about 1+/2 in their native language. A 3 is what the government wants for work purposes. So it is good to have set various goals.
It appears that I will live close to the center of town. I will live in a 1930s apartment with no washing machine. Which I assume is more rustic/Russian.
The trip to Germany today is roughly 8 hours. The trip to Moscow is about 2.5 hours and the car ride to Vladimir can vary from 2.5-6 hours. So I have a long haul ahead of me.
I will write more on the orientation later. Poka!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Last Night in V.A.

Today was a tremendously hectic day. I began the day with a trip to GMU. I first visited two of my mentors. I stopped by and saw GMU Russian language professor Dr Levine. He gave me a neat Russian language book (the fourteenth edition of Говорите по Русский). I have already packed it. While in Russia, I will strive for diligence in my personal readings in Russian. Dr Levine also gave me the contact information for one of his friends in St Petersburg.
Next, I visited Fr Peter Nassetta, the Roman Catholic Chaplain for GMU. After chatting with him, and going to Mass, I headed to Maryland.
In Maryland I ran some more errands before heading back to Reston, then to Great Falls. I have just finished (re)packing my bags. I have a strong suspicion that I will exceed the weight limit. If this is the case, I will need to pay a tarriff to Lufthansa. I may also be hit by another surrage charge in Russia.
Either way, I am looking forward to tomorrow where I will meet my classmates for the next year. They all seem like really nice and dedicated students.
It may be until Russia until I see a computer again, if so, check-back in a couple of days! Poka!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Day After the Night Before

Last night the GMU Russian Club sponsored a Farewell Party at my parent's house. It was a delightful evening with many special guests. Not only were two of the GMU Russian language professors able to attend, but also a number of other non-Russian speaking family and friends. The party was also a terrific way to kick-off the new academic school year for the GMU students.
With less than 48 hours until I am due in DC, I hope that I have been able to say good-bye to as many people as possible. It will be a short 9 1/2 months until I am back in the States. Though, everyone is more than welcome to pay me a visit in Vladimir!
The last minute errands are what eat up all your time! I have been to DC twice in the last week for various tasks. I worry that I will not have enough gifts (i.e. Washington DC pens/trinkets, etc) to give to the various Russians that I meet along the way. This morning my friend Moriah and I went to DC to hunt for more gifts to give to the Russians.
Aside from gifts, I am also having trouble finding a tour guide book of Russia, that is not exclusive to Moscow and St Petersburg.
The other challenge is getting consistent advice on what to bring to Russia! It is actually rather funny to see the extreme differences in opinion. Some people tell me to bring a warm coat, others say buy one in Russia. Some have told me to not bring anything but a Russian-English dictionary, while others have encouraged me to carry along every Russian textbook that I own. Either way, it will be more difficult to find Western goods in Vladimir than in Moscow. This has lead me to pack more than I probably should. Though in all, my luggage for one year will not exceed two standard sized suitecases.
Tomorrow will probably be more last minute errands, and Tuesday will just be crazy!

Friday, August 25, 2006


I still have until Tuesday, August 29 until I go to DC for predeparture orientation. After two days of orientation, our Frankfurt bound Lufthansa flight will depart from Dulles at 16:45. We will arrive in Germany with roughly an hour before we catch the connecting flight to Moscow. From Moscow, I will board a train (or bus) and continue my journey two-three hours to the east, to Vladimir. My first night in Russia will be spent in the city where I will spend the next year.
I will be studying abroad through the American Councils of Teachers of Russian ( The ACTR does remarkable things to encourage the study of Russian language and culture. Their programs are considered to be the most intense and educational available. I have been a member of the ACTR since I was in high school and interned for them during my junior year of college.
It is really suprising that I am not nervous, nor ambivalent about leaving. Rather, I am excited and ready. My greatest fear is forgetting something that is vital for a year in Russia (i.e. Schaum's Guide to Russian Grammar). Barring such a tragedy, I am pretty thrilled to have the opportunity to study abroad.
I will continue to post on this blog in the weeks and months ahead. Please check back! Poka!