tiistai 13. syyskuuta 2011

Bohemian Living

I've been home the whole day, because I have the worst cold ever. Mostly just been sleeping since the internet sucks and I can't think of anyting to do. Should probably practise Russian, but I just get depressed for not getting anything right. Luckily the guy living next to me speaks only Russian to me, and he's quite talkative as well. There's six people living here altogether, (It's quite the bohemian commune thing going on in here) though they seem never to be at home.

The one's I know are: Diana, the girl who majored in English, and who's actually working with exchange students here in some university I don't know. She said she knows a couple of people from the University of Tampere as well. She has the cutest Japanese Bobtail cat ever, he's always hanging in my room and playing with my stuff like crazy. The first everning we sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and Diana told me there's a way to get into the roof. It's supposed to be very beautiful there at night time, when they lift up the bridges and the whole city is lit up.

The Cat, who hangs in my room in the evernings.

We painted the walls to make it cozier.

A huge painting left by the last inhabitant of the room. Misha lives now nex to me with Diana. Oh and my Christmas lights finally found a tree.

Then there's the surgeon boy, Aleksei I think his name was. He seems really nice as well, though we've been having only small conversations in Russian. There's one room vacant, because the boy who lives there is in China at the moment. He has a picture of Dali on his door, so he can't be that bad. 

Then there's Anash-something, can't remember his name (and if I could surely wouldn't know how to spell it.) but I just know him as the crazy multitalented artist guy. He lives in the room next to mine, and like two of the other guys living here, he also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He's a sculptor/ fotographer/ musician and always drinking tea. He can play crazy balcan tunes all night long, sometimes singing, sometimes reciting a play or a poem. I told him I paint, and that I'm really interested of studying at the Academy, so now we're trying to practice my russian.

Stas and Najda helped me to find this place through an estate agency, and I really like it here. We do have warm water, though currently we're washing our dishes in the bathroom since the tab's dead in the kitchen. We have to get a new one, hopefully It won't be too expencive. Everything in Russia happens "tomorrow", like the tab, that should have been fixed a week ago already. The house was built in the beginning of the 20th century, though the last two floors were added in 1930. I live in the sixth floor, and obviously there's no elevator. Can say getting my bed up here was quite fun, though unfortunately I got to be a mere spectator, hehhe.

It has five rooms and a kitchen, a toilet, and a bathroom. In the Soviet times these sort of apartments (like this one, right in the centre, near Nevsky Prospekt) were usually communes inhabitet by several families. Since the state took care of the necessary repairs, mots of the apartments in the centre are in poor condition. Rental apartments owned by the city etc. don't really exicst in the system, so it's always a private person renting an estate. You can get easily scammed when looking for an apartment, so it's quite good to know what you're doing. ( you rent an apartment, pay the fees, and when you get there, someone else is living there already) Also usually the agencies advertise fot apartments or cheap rooms in the internet, but when you ask for them you get something like "oh, that place is no longer available, but we got this slighty better one for xx rub. more money...". Especially if you're a foreigner. That's why I got lucky having Russian people helping me to find such an affordable place: my rent is something like 180 euros per month.

Ps. I just had chicken soup with two of the guys. I only had to mention the word "vodka" and they were already holding a bottle in their hands. Haha! We should get along just fine.....

maanantai 12. syyskuuta 2011

Just doing my groceries, eh?

So far I've been staying at my dad's place in Lomonocov and also done a lot of eating at my babuska's place. That's why the first time I really tried to do grocery shopping was today, and can say it wasn't quite the same as in Finland.

I've already noticed that a russian salad isn't really a salad since it doesn't have any lettuce in it. Reason could be explained by the shortage of lettuce, or just bad quality. In Finland you're quite used to bying the cheapest you find, right, because the quality should at least be eatable. Here though it's actually quite common sense not to go for the cheapest alternative. Comsuming the cheapest usually means (for a foreigner at least) a bad case of diarrea or just the worst taste imaginable. So I don't know, but I just go for the pricier stuff and also the Finnish stuff. Russians tend to favour especially Finnish butter and milk products. I also bought Valio cheese and butter for myself. (As for margarine, it's not really popular here in Russia, since during the Soviet times the quality was really terrible. So no one really buys margarine, it's usually butter or just nothing on the bread)

Also, Bellarussian products are preferred here. There's a food chain dedicated only for Bellarussian meat and milk products, since in Russia equivalents tend to be quite unreliable. I also saw a Bellarussian beaty store one day, so I think everything imported there is concidered to have higher quality.

 Though the quality in general is quite poor the prices can be pretty much the Finnish level. Or maybe I just went to the wrong grocery store, because my one bag of chai and butter etc bread cost 553 rub. Which is something like 15 euros. I'm guessing it's only the alcohol and cigaretters that's cheap in here.

Obviously you can't drink the tab water (though the water should be drinkable when it leaves from the water department) and it's actually because of the pipes. They haven't been renovated since God knows when (the Sixties maybe?) and contains all kinds of bacteria and heavy metals. I've been drinking the tab water only boiled with tea or insant coffee (another hit in Russia: insant coffee) and so far I'm alive. Boiling can kill the bacteria but not the heavy metals so I don't know how healthy that is, especially for the locals who drink it all the time boiled. Even when taking a shower the water smells horribly penicilin. Prescription drugs in your water, oh how nice!

Otherwise I have no idea what I'll be eating here for the next five months. You should buy all the green stuff from the street where it's fresh and the quality's good as well, but not with my russian skills!  Majonnaise is reaaally popular here, could be my thing (not). You really have to think what you're buyng since the milk can easily be out of date, like everything else too. I found a pile of a week-old crab salads today, while a girl next to me was carefully picking the best eggs to her basket. I have no friggin' idea how to tell a good egg from a bad one, so I'm screwd.

Finally I came home with (and these were the only safe things I could buy really) a bag of pasta (russian, not tried yet) smetana (obviously), cheese (Finnish, expensive), Margarine ( looks like Flora, but has a different name on it and is made in Tsekkoslovakia), butter (Finnish), tea, 5l of water, pickles ( one of the only things in Russia besides smetana and Borsh-soup you can really rely on imo) , Borsh, rye bread ( Finnish bread it's called here) and really delicious cranberry juice. Did try to buy cucumber (looks totally weird here) but since I didn't know which button to hit on the scale I gave up. Did contemplate on asking help but my russian failed me again. hehehe.

Ps. Hate my network. I have a portable net (mokkula) which is totally crappy. They have a wi-fi here where I'm living, but unfortunately the guy who knows the password is currently in.... CHINA. nice.

torstai 8. syyskuuta 2011


So. I thought I could start blogging since there's way too much happening here, and some of it's actually good stuff to tell. I got a picture from a friend describing your emotional changes during one's exchange period, and frankfully I think I'm somewhere between "Honeymoon" and " Cultural Shock" right now.

So yeah. I thought it's best to write in English in case any of my non-Finnish speaking friends like to know what's up in MOTHERRUSSIA. Though probably not since I don't have any friends, hehhe.