Thursday, August 29, 2013

Language barriers, cars, and cigarettes

Goodness, where do I start? Being here is amazing. I still can't believe I'm here.

It wasn't as huge of a culture shock as I thought. Things are definitely different here, but the Russian people are just that--people. My host family and host grandparents are very, very nice. They are always making sure that I'm comfy, and always trying to feed me (eventually I have to say "Nyet" and motion that I'm full.)

In that past few days I have learned how to get around my neighborhood. It is very nice. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the head teachers apartment or my host family's house. The neighborhood/area I live in is mostly apartments, parks, and a few stores. It isn't very "picturesque"; it is mostly older apartment buildings that are very rough looking on the outside. That's how most buildings in Russia seem to be. They seem run down but inside are quite decent.

Kind of like the people. On the outside they are reserved, may seem rough, ect. But today, as it is my birthday morning, my host grandma greeted me hugs and kisses on the cheek, and gave me a Russian sweets box, perfume, and some candy. So nice! They are very nice to me, and were from the start.

My host grandparents don't speak an ounce of English. It was definitely tough at first, and we're still working on improving our charade games (I also am using all the Russian I know.) Despite this, last night we were all sitting together trying to discuss the news on the TV, and they showed me family pictures (even some back from the 40-50's!)

Adjusting to life here was hard the first night. The language barrier, new surroundings, and lack of knowledge of the area and where to go was tough. Although it is getting lots better. I miss my family a ton, but I'm enjoying my time here so far.

Here are some things I've learned about St Petersburg.

A ton of people smoke.
Walking down the streets, especially in popular areas, you'll find people standing outside smoking. The air quality is great here, unless you're passing by a smoker (cough cough.) Both my host dad and grandpa smoke, but haven't done it inside the house or around me which is nice.

Russian driving is insane and quite hilarious.
They are all over the road. Staying directly in one lane isn't of importance, and when they are making turns I swear there is going to be an accident. Parking their cars as well is definitely different from the US. They will literally drive up on the curb and park. Or they will just move their entire car onto the sidewalk, grass, or park right in the middle of a small street. It makes me laugh.

Anyway. Here are some pictures to enjoy! I will have cooler ones later when we get the chance to go visit awesome sites.

My "house slippers" my host grandma gave me.
Russians don't walk around barefoot in their house.

Me in my bedroom window

Contemplating life

My kitchen

Went out to eat last night. We ate some sort of meal (we literally
pointed at a few item on the menu and hoped it would taste good) with
meat, bread, parsley/other greens, sauce, ect.

Happy Birthday from my host grandma! Russian
chocolates, candy, and perfume

For breakfast I had meat/sour
cream/something else. Definitely different from
"sweet" American breakfasts. This is me drinking
some tea on my birthday morning.
My fellow teachers threw me a surprise birthday.
They got me streamers, balloons, cake, flowers, and a card!
Alla our director got me flowers as well. :)

My Russian bday cake. So good! It had several different
 layers...almost like regular cake, caramel, and angel cake.
It was way good but not too sweet!

Flowers (pink for friendship), cake, and my birthday card
Love you all.



  1. Oh yay!! So glad your new friends and your host grandma have made your birthday special!! You are just as gorgeous as ever. :)

  2. How amazing your adventure sounds! I'm glad you are able to feel the caring and support of the people close to you so quickly with your birthday--what a great way to begin!

  3. Apparently I am now known as unknown since I can't get my settings to change. Sorry--not a stalker, just not competent at this moment :) Mary Griffith

  4. Happy Birthday Meagan:) Glad everything is going well. Have a great time and we miss you already.

    Bella Marie's Pizzeria

  5. Hey Maegan,
    Its Nikki. We miss you so much already!
    I hope you have an amazing 18th birthday in Russia!!
    It looks so awesome there and you look so happy but I cant wait until you get back!
    Enjoy your trip!

    Wat be up with thee!!! HapPy bIrtHdaY! may the rest of this year bring you truckloads of cheer. We miss your talented self. Kisses XOXO A

    Happy birthday girlie!!(: Hope you're having tons of fun! We miss you like crazy and barely getting by without you. But we're making it work.(: Love you, Mikan

    1. Thanks, guys! (: Hope things are going well at the restaurant. Miss you guys too!