What a week it was! It really went by in a blur and it sometimes feels like I just landed in Moscow yesterday. It was a very busy week filled with various activities just like most weeks at the hostel. On Monday in the afternoon we went to visit the local brewery in Kirov and we toured the entire thing. It was very interesting to see how the beer is made and packaged. After the tour we got to go to the pub and we were served non alcoholic beverages. On Tuesday the vice governor of Kirov came to the Hostel and spoke to us about language learning, AFS, and other topics. We were encouraged to ask questions and we learned a lot about the Russian perspective on American education. The other half of the Americans that didn’t have to give presentations last week had to give them on this day to the vice governor. I gave mine the previous week so I was stress free. On Wednesday we had an excursion with our host siblings and the Russians. Everyone went around the city and had to take pictures/videos of certain things. It was really fun to get outside the hostel and see more of Kirov and what a beautiful city it is. Thursday came around and we were visited by three lovely Russian women who sang songs and showed us some traditional Russian ceremonies. It was in honor of an ancient holiday celebrated in Russia. Friday would have to be one of my favorite days because we went to the local ice cream factory. I love ice cream so I was extremely overjoyed about this excursion. When we arrived at the outside of the factory I was a little bit taken aback because it didn’t look like how I pictured an ice-cream factory to look. I don’t mean that in a mean way at all, I just never pictured an ice cream factory to be surrounded by barbed wire and require various security checkpoints. We had to go through a metal detector, turn in our phones, wear special jackets, shoes, and we all had to wear hairnets. Nonetheless the process of the ice cream being made was extremely interesting and I had no idea how many people it took to make it. It reminded me of some crazy assembly line I once saw in a Charlie Chaplin film (Thanks Mr. Knobbe). After the tour we were given free ice cream and it was delicious. After that we all had to go to the ice cream shop next door and buy some more….Don’t worry mom my roomies and I did wall sits and situps at the hostel. On Saturday we all went back to the clay shop and painted our sculptures that we made the previous week. My sculpture turned out pretty good but I have no talent for painting so that was a struggle for me. I have trouble painting easy things, so trying to replicate a Russian clay toy was very humiliating but amusing. I had some good laughs. Saturday evening we had a talent show with all the Americans and Russians from the camp. The Americans found out about this very last minute so we were basically assigned things to do. I learned a traditional Russian dance with two other girls and three boys, I had to dance the cotton eyed joe, and all the americans sang a traditional Russian song. After that my host mom and sister took me to their home and we ate cake and drank tea before they had to drop me back off at the hostel. It was very fun and I love spending time with them. That evening Cafe Milk prepared a nice dinner for the Americans and Russians since it was everyone’s last night there. It was very sweet and they even baked us a cake. After that everyone met in one of the big rooms at the hostel and there were blankets covering the floor and candles were scattered around. The volunteers talked to us and we relaxed and watched a slideshow that was full of photos from the camp. It was a very bittersweet evening because we were all excited to move in with host families but it was sad saying our goodbyes to the Russians we had been living with for the past three weeks. There were a lot of tears and it gave the Americans a preview of how sad our goodbyes are going to be in 4 weeks. Sunday morning came around and most people got up fairly early to finish packing up or at least start getting their stuff together. We had our last breakfast at good ole Cafe Milk and from breakfast we went back to the place we played the fairytale themes games, except this time it was pirate themed. It was a very fun time and we raced in row boats in the small lake and did a bunch of team building exercises. I wore jeans on this excursion because the last time we came here I got a ton of bug bites and had an allergic reaction to the bites and my foot was completely swollen. So I wore a pair of jeans and it was just my luck to get caught on a tree and have them completely rip open. RIP to my favorite pair of jeans. 🙁 You will be missed. When we got back to the hostel we finished packing everything up and set all our belongings downstairs and waited for our host families to come adopt us! My host family picked me up and we got all my things situated in their home, then my sister and I went on a small walk around a nearby park, and then we ate dinner as a family and it was great eating delicious traditional Russian food. My host father is an amazing cook and I’m sure my mother is too! My father left this morning for two weeks on holiday to the Red Sea and will return next Sunday. I love my family and I am looking forward to the next three weeks.