Worth the 6:45 Wake-Up

Today I had to wake up at 6:45 for class.  I haven’t woken up that early since high school, and to this day I have no idea how I used to do it.  But today, despite everything, was amazing.

·      9:10- Grammar Class.  Marina Olegovna just makes my day, even when our fill-in-the-blank exercises make no sense at all and it is outrageously early in the morning.

·      11:15- Excursion to Теремок, the Blini Stand.  Yesterday began Масленица, a week-long celebration before the start of Lent.  It is actually the greatest gift known to mankind, because the proper way to celebrate is blini everyday.  Yesterday, I tried the strawberry jam; today, the sweetened condensed milk.  Both delicious, though my host mom’s still dominate the blini scene.

·      12:00- Practiced piano. Normally this would not be worth noting, but since the key to the piano room has been MIA since Thursday, it is cause for celebration.

·      (12:30) – I put this in (скобки) because I only found out about it after the fact. But- to celebrate Smolny’s official approval as part of Saint Petersburg State University, there was a cake and balloons!

·      13:00 – We discussed the Rwandan genocide today in the 3 C’s of Wars, which was so depressing but utterly fascinating.  I “learned” about it once in Intro to IR, but it was the day our term paper was due and I’m pretty sure I slept through the entire documentary.  Nonetheless, I loved class today.  The story of one family (Hutu father, Tutsi mother, and of course mixed children) was particularly horrifying.  Hutu genocide leaders gave the father an ultimatum: kill the mother in front of the children, or the whole family would be killed.  He refused to touch her, but she begged and pleaded him to do it in order to save the children… and eventually he did.  The way in which the Hutu elite were able to so rapidly and thoroughly exterminate Tutsis as well as the Hutu moderate is just hard to wrap my head around.  But I love how we are learning about history and politics in such a psychological context.  We discussed the roles of psychological distancing and fear in the causing of war and it makes the event so much more interesting, relatable- and consequently, heinous.  I could go on forever about how much I love that class, so forgive me for my verbosity.

·      14:30 – Break time.  So I go to print out some documents and guess what! First of all, the printer room was open!  Although it explicitly dictates hours of operation on the door (10:30-18:30) I’ve many a time been disappointed to find the door locked.  Secondly, the printer was working!  These are things that cannot be taken for granted here in Russia, especially when Smolny has exactly one communal printer. Oh, Soviet legacies…

·      16:30 – Trek to Чернышевская.  I didn’t have to wait long at all for the 5 trolleybus!  Usually three or four are lined up outside of Площадь Труда, just chillin’ on break, not unlike my experiences at the DMV.  Today, though, they picked me right up.

·      18:00 – Tutored 14-year-old Misha on his English!  Teaching English grammar in Russian is a constant reminder of my linguistic inabilities and inadequacies, but so rewarding.  He was working on hypothetical and potential conditional clauses (if I were a princess, I would live in a castle vs. if you come over today, I’ll make you dinner). I taught him some formulas, and in about 20 minutes, he could switch from one situation to the second perfectly!  Even if the sentences were inverted, even if there were contractions to confuse him… I was so, so excited for him.  Or myself, I’m not really sure.  Either way, I left the tutoring session on cloud nine.  And, as icing on the cake, his English workbook contained a dialogue about planning to see a movie (Titanic, конечно) and another blurb about 13-year-old Natasha who loves to figure skate.

·      All-day—Today, the милиция (militsia) ceases to exist.  They are officially the полиция (politsia).  Change is in the air (see (12:30)).

I just can’t believe how perfectly everything is coming together.  Tutoring Misha is really making me wonder if I’d want to be a teacher some day, something I’ve never ruled out, though never seriously considered.  And the way all my academic interests have been combined is too cool.  I’m taking a Freud class in Russian, the 3 C’s as a psychological approach to politics… All my seemingly random academic interests don’t seem so separate here.  My world just keeps getting smaller.

And on that note, I ran into my friend Nick for the fifth time today.

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