I am sorry that I have not updated my blog in nearly 20 days! I have been on the road and it has been hard to get much computer time.
As I stated in my last blog, I spent December 22-28 in St Petersburg. I stayed with friends in a Franciscan Community there. It was a really neat trip. The guys were all really cool, and very fluent in Russian. While I was in St Pete I visited a bunch of great museums, such as: The Russian Museum, The Ethnographic Museum, Kazanskii Sobor, etc. I also visited with Liya, an elderly woman that I had met during my previous trip to St Petersburg.
Liya is the quintessential Russian hostess. Despite the fact that I was nearly 40 minutes late to meet her (I am still confused by the marshutka system in Petersburg) she waited and greeted me very warmly. She had a tray full of Russian foods. She had prepared buterbrodi, kalbasi, and chocolate. We conversed for a couple of hours before I needed to head back to where I was staying.
When I finally left St Petersburg, two of my friends, Jim (an American) and Fr David (a Polish German), took me to the train station.
I arrived in Moscow at around 0545 and killed all day waiting for a 1140 train to Dnepropetrovsk. I met a girl who was about 17 at the station. I was, apparently, the first American she had ever met. She was so excited to meet me. She gave me buterbrodi, chocolates and a New Years card. She asked (for my permission) to write me in the future.
When I arrived in Dnepropetrovsk the next day (I will do a post later about the trip), I was picked up by my friends uncle. In extreme Slavic hospitality, he had taken off work to drive me the hour-and-a-half to Marganets, Ukraine.
In Marganets I celebrated New Years and hung out for about a week. When I finally left, there was a small farewell party for me with about 10 people. We went to a local disco and didn't get home to late.
To give a comparative on how cheap the Ukraine is: To buy a bottle of vodka, in a disco/bar, is about $5-6.
I met with my mother and sister in Kyiv, Ukraine on January 6. We hung out there with one of my Ukrainian friends until January 8.
My mother, sister and I left for Lviv, Ukraine and have been there since. Lviv is a really beautiful town.
Wherever I have been on my trip I am almost suprised how much use I can get out of my Russian. Whether it is finding a hotel, booking a train ticket, buying dinner or meeting new people. I feel as if I have gained a good amount this past semester in Vladimir, and I hope that there is more to come!
I will post more later! Poka!