Week Number 2 at the Hostel!

Hello friends and family! My second week in Russia was a very busy and exciting week filled with a lot of fun activities. I’m going to do a day by day type post like I did in my last post but I’m just going to describe the afternoon activities. My mornings are always the same; I go to class!

Monday, June 30th

This afternoon was very fun! We all went to an indoor ice skating rink and it was very interesting. It was a professional and extremely nice rink. I’ve never been very good at iceskating but skating on such a smooth surface definitely helped me out. Some of the host siblings came and I was excited when my host sister showed up. She was very good at skating so I was lucky to have her there to hold my hand the whole time. Normally I’m a wall hugger but there was no wall so I was lucky for her hand. My friend Nick and I attempted ice dancing and we successfully did some spins (well actually he spun me and I held on for dear life, but same thing right?).

Tuesday July 1st

This afternoon was particularly interesting because the Secretary of Cultural Affairs from the US embassy in Moscow came down to the hostel to talk to all of the Americans. Half of the Americans had to present a powerpoint in Russian for him and so those who had to present had a very stressful day. I had to give my presentation that day and I was very nervous to present. It ended up going pretty well and I managed to get through it the best I could. We got some great information about jobs with the state department, embassy, and steps to take to get there. That was the main highlight of the day!

Wednesday, July 2nd

This afternoon was VERRRYYYY fun! It is also going to be very difficult to try and describe this afternoon in words. We went to a forest in the countryside and we learned about Russian fairytales and played a lot of games with these people that dressed up as characters from fairytales. We danced, threw spears, went through a BEAUTIFUL failytale museum, played athletic games, threw some spears (sorry dad), made candles, I shot a bow and arrow;), and we had a tea party! It was extremely hot outside and everyone was relieved when people brought us cold water at the tea party. After the tea party we were free to run around and play as we pleased. There were some trampolines, sprinklers were going off, and a huge slide that a bunch of people went down. It reminded me of sledding in a way because we got in these sled-like things and went down the slide extremely fast. I’ll post some photos of that so you can better understand what that was like! I left this place with a ton of mosquito and other bug bites despite the fact that I put on a bunch of bug repellent. The bugs here in Russia are not fended off by repellent apparently!

Thursday, July 3rd

On Thursday afternoon we went to a clay shop and made our own little clay birds. It took me about an hour or so for our guide to give us a step by step and then we were finished. It was a bit difficult for me because I am not necessarily artistic to say the least.The shop itself was very cute and had some beautiful clay objects as well as other works of art. We are going back there this Thursday to paint our clay structures and I am looking forward to it!

Friday, July 4th

I’ll be very honest, it felt weird being in Russia for 4th of July. While at home this is normally a day of family time, going to the lake, lots of food, and fireworks; here it was a day of school, then us 15 Americans celebrating together and teaching the Russian kids about 4th of July. We were split into groups and had to come up with some sort of presentation about 4th of July. The groups consisted of Americans and Russians. My group went and got little party poppers and confetti things to set off outside the hostel to represent fireworks. We also talked about ways to celebrate the holiday. Some of the other groups sang traditional american songs (sweet home alabama, yankee doodle, etc). After these presentations everyone went down to a nearby park and played american football, football, volleyball, and other games. That evening our volunteers organized a dance downstairs to help celebrate the 4th and it was fairly fun. That was the first time I listened to American music in a very long time! Everyone was extremely tired by the time it was over (around midnight) and went to bed almost immediately.

Saturday, July 5th

On this morning we took part in some Russian activities that the Russian kids planned for us. We learned some traditional games, learned a song, and then made little dolls. In the afternoon Larisa took everyone on an excursion to the Diorama Museum in Kirov which is also situated in a beautiful park. First, we toured the museum and it was very nice. There is a huge panoramic painting (diorama) of the revolution in Kirov and it was very well done. It almost looked real. Once we were done with the tour of the museum we were free to roam the park for two hours. One of my friends and I decided to walk through the woodsy part of the park first, and then we found ourselves inside a small little amusement park/ carnival thing. We found a place there that was selling authentic food and we decided to try it! This was our first experience trying to order food in Russian and surprisingly it was somewhat of a success and the woman whom we were buying from found us quite amusing. The food was extremely delicious! It was some sort of pork that she sliced off a stick…very hard to explain. It was nice to finally have some authentic Russian food and eat something besides Cafe Milk (sorry, I love you Cafe Milk). Once we finished our food we got some ice-cream which I was excited about because I hadn’t been able to find any ice-cream until that moment! The park had a small lake in the center of it so my friend and I decided to rent a row boat and take it our for the last 45 minutes or so and it was very fun! i really hope I go back to this park again sometime because it is easily my favorite place in Kirov so far.

Sunday July, 6th

We went to the summer camp again on Sunday, except this time without our Russian peers. We got to spend time with the little kids the entire time which I really enjoyed. The first this we did was play a volleyball match against some of the counselors and that was very fun! Next, the american guys played some of the older russian guys in a football match which was interesting to watch. I had trouble watching the game because the little girls kept giving me flowers, candies, bracelets, and other goodies. After the football match it started to rain, and while all the Americans went inside for tea, I got kidnapped by a plethora of little Russian girls and played games with them in their cabin. Finally, I made my way out and found my way to the other Americans to drink warm tea with them. After our tea time we went back with the little kids and played games like checkers and chess with them. I’m fairly good at played checkers, but I got schooled by some nine year old girls. They take checkers very seriously! After that the camp organized a dance for everyone and the little kids were excited to dance with their new American friends. They also took this dance very seriously. Camp Luch is a rustic summer camp so I was envisioning a casual, fun little dance thing with some music. I was SO wrong. They had this one room decked out with lights, a disco ball, and a DJ. There was also a stage and it was not what I was expecting at all. An interesting fact about Russians is that they know a LOT of choreographed dances. For every single song that came on some people would get on stage and teach everyone the dance that went along with it. It was crazy! After that we had a huge relay race that had many different stations. My leg was to bounce a ping pong ball on a paddle while running to the next person. Can you guess why I chose that?;) Once we finished the relay race we went and had dinner which was very yummy! It was some potato and beef dish that was very nice to have. After this, everyone went and dance for another hour and a half or so before we got on the bus to head back to the hostel. It was super sad saying goodbye to all the little kids because they were precious and very upset to see us leave. All in all I had a great day on Sunday and I’ll never forget how great of a time I had with all of those little kids.