I have come to conclude that the quote, "Russia is a third world country with first world weapons" is probably true. I went to the market (rinok) this afternoon. Everything imaginable is for sale: Boots, beer, kittens, underwear, jeans, meat, fish, vegetables, etc. It is a pretty neat place, and the prices are reasonable. A t-shirt costs about 50 roubles ($2) and cigarettes vary from 3.5 roubles to 35 roubles a pack (12 cents - $1.30). A bottle of vodka that costs about $25 in the States can be bought for about $5 here. Though cheap vodka is a little over a dollar or two.
Aside from that, classes have been good. A few people have asked what the classes/day-to-day routine is, so I briefly composed it below:
I have Russian/local history, phonetics, grammar, reading, and conversation. They are all taught by seperate teachers. Each class will consist of probably four tests per semester (one a month). The homework varies, but every night (including the necessary prepatory work for the next day's classes) I probably spend about 2-3 hours studying. It is not a bad lifestyle.
I have class at 0900. So I get up around 0730 to have time to boil water for a "shower". After this, I eat breakfast (cooked by my host mother) (hozaika)), and finish getting ready. Because my host mother likes to talk so much, I get up extra early as to allow time for this. I then walk about 15 minutes (down a paved/gravel/dirt road) to school.
The list of which subjects I will have that week come out on Thursdays. After the first period of class, there is a five minute break. Then a second period followed by a ten minute break. Then a third period followed by lunch. Lunch is forty minutes and there are two more periods until school ends at about 1430. There are usually two period back-to-back of the same thing (say grammer). So really there are only three seperate classes per day.
I then have the rest of the day free. Since everything closes early (or just doesn't open), I run errands until the evening, when I go home for dinner.
Following dinner are hours of homework. Concluded by an evening walk before bed. It is before going to bed that I like to once again review the new words that I learned (that day), then watch Russian television, or more commonly, read from a book of Russian stories for foreigners.
The Russians really do seem to like Americans. They go well out of their way to introduce themselves and to wish me luck.
All-and-all I am amazed by how much I have already learned. If nothing else, the ease that I feel when speaking Russian is tremendous. Sure, I am still butchering the language, but I don't fear an encounter with a Russian. I look for more encounters.
Well, off I go to study some more! Poka!