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The sun is setting on my time here in Russia.

Probably for the first month I hated it here. I was having a hard time getting along with the girls and I questioned my decision to travel all the way to the other side of the world to teach kids that hardly understood me English because I hadn’t had any experience teaching kids. Russia was a strange place with gruff looking people who spoke a different language than me. I was lost and alone and scared, but now I can honestly call St Petersburg Russia my second home. It holds my heart and I am so sad to leave it. I think I wouldn’t appreciate it as much if I wasn’t living here. I realized the other day looking through I book about St Pete how amazing it is that I have the opportunity to live close enough to all of the beautiful wonders of this city and that I could just go see them on a lazy afternoon. That I can go to the Hermitage on a random Sunday afternoon. I’ve had so many amazing experiences and seen so many amazing things. I’ve been able to influence these kids lives and in doing so they’ve influenced mine. I’ve grown in so many different ways and I would never trade my experience for the entire world. I’ve taken a gigantic leap out of my comfort zone and I’m never going back.

This is the year of adventures and I’m proud to consider this my greatest so far. I love you Saint Petersburg. I’ll see you soon. пока

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Peterhof

Peterhof 021Our last Saturday with Sveta, she took us to Peterhof, or the Summer Palace of Peter the Great. The Hermitage is the Winter Palace, Peterhof is the Summer Palace. Sveta made us wait until the end of May because she knew that it would be green and not dead. Anyway, the day we went was so absolutely sunny and pretty hot too. Rocking the shorts and short sleeves. We met her and got into the gardens right before they turned all the fountains on. There was a big crowd. They played a stirring anthem and then the fountains came to life! Peterhof has lots of fountains, Peterhof 038but the most famous is the main fountain that’s right next to the palace. We weren’t able to go inside, but its okay because the gardens were so worth it! It was mostly just a big forest with gravel paths for walking. There were so many trees and flowers! The tulips were so bright and beautiful! We went to a few other fountains. we also walked to the back which was right on the Baltic Sea! From there you could look and see all of St Petersburg! It was so beautiful. Peterhof 075We basically just walked around and enjoyed the gardens. It was so huge and gorgeous! One day when I’m rich and famous I’ll have maybe a garden half that size. Because were out in the sun all day we all came back with sunkissed faces. My sunburn later tanned though! Then faded :P But whatever. I’ve got a whole summer ahead of me to try and get tan. After we left the gardens we went to a small but awesomely cheap souvenir market! I got some tshirts and a couple other souvenirs for my family. It was a really rewarding day! We were all exhausted from walking and being in the sun all day, but it was really good. What a perfect way to spend our last excursion day with Sveta!

Lucy's Camera 004While I’m on the subject of Sveta, this past Monday she came over, brought a bunch of ice cream, and we all just hung out and talked before we had to say goodbye. It was so nice to spend a couple extra hours with her. She’s our little Russian mama and I love her so much! It was so sad saying goodbye. We all told ourselves that we wouldn’t cry but we did. What an amazing opportunity we’ve had to not only have Sveta as a guide, but also as a dear, dear friend. I’m going to miss her so much!

Big Vacation!

I’m trying to think about how I’m going to do this because sometimes people get bored having to read long entries, but I went to four different countries. Hmm. I guess I’ll see what I can do to keep it interesting. Put lots of pictures or something.

FINLAND

Lucy's Camera 015 (2)Day 1: Around 2 am Thursday morning (May 1st) a private van came and picked us up from the apartment and drove us to Helsinki. It wasn’t a very eventful trip because it was during the night, but there was one time when we couldn’t understand what the bus driver was asking us because he didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Russian and he ended up buying us a giant pack of cigarettes. Lucy's Camera 009We laughed, apologized, and typed up how we didn’t smoke and how we misunderstood him into Google translate. Anyway, Helsinki. We arrived around 8 am and there was nobody on the streets. It was like a ghost town. Later we found out that it was a Finnish holiday and everyone had been up partying the night before so they were all sleeping in that day. After we got situated in our apartment and took a long nap and then went out. Lucy's Camera 020 (2)Kim took us to this island where she told us there were Hobbit houses! The whole island was adorable! It was cold and overcast/rainy but I loved it because it made me feel like I was really in Europe. It almost reminded me of The Secret of Roan Innish. Some of the girls actually found the hobbit houses, but the rest of us kind of gave up :P It started raining so we went inside and got sung to by a bunch of French tourists! That’s not the reason we went inside, in fact we were there way before the French tourists, but it happened. Michaela got lost in the rain so we were waiting for her and occasionally sending out search parties. She finally came and we went back to the apartment.

Lucy's Camera 026Day 2: We decided to just walk around and see whatever we came across. We walked to a big white cathedral with LOTS of steps. The inside was nice and clean and very different from Russian cathedrals. They had a huge organ. Then we walked down to a seaside souvenir market. The weather was crazy, almost Utah-like. It was sunny, then cloudy, then it started hailing, then raining, then it was sunny again, all while we were at the market. After the market we went over to another cathedral, but you couldn’t go in it, so we just took pictures by it. Lucy's Camera 007We went and got our stuff from the hotel and then took a bus to the airport. Miranda and I had bought tickets for a different flight from everyone else so we waited for our flight while everyone else got on theirs. So our tickets said 20:25 and my brain told me that was 10:25 so we set up to sit for a while, like 4 hours after the other girl’s flight, but around 8:00 my brain wheels started turning when I saw a line of people over by our gate. I freaked out and we quickly jumped into line. I am so glad I realized because we would’ve been stuck in Helsinki. Stupid 24 hour time. My brain doesn’t compute. We arrived in Stockholm and reunited with our group and did another sneaky maneuver into our hotel.

SWEDEN

Stockholm 011Day 3: Stockholm is so gorgeous. We stayed in a super old hotel that had a super old and cool elevator. It was the kind of hotel that would have a haunted room up on the very top floor in the back. We started the day by going to the palace and watching the changing of the guard. It was so royal! It was so cool to me to be in a country that has a king and not a president, cause even Russia has a president. The guards rode horses and played very royal trumpets and wore bright blue uniforms with silver helmets that had spikes on the top. I mean it’d be cool if it was just a tradition that they carried on just to honor their country, but it was even cooler that they were doing it to honor their country and their actual living royalty. While we were there Megan got hit on and asked out by some old guys from Bogota Columbia and I made a little shoutout to my lovely cousins in my head ;) We kindly walked away. Stockholm 043We stumbled upon the Nobel Prize museum! Just going into the lobby was so cool! I never thought I’d be interested in that kind of stuff, but just being there made me want to go watch a documentary or read a book. Apparently Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. There was a chair there that he signed that was hanging on the wall. Meh. I didn’t take a picture. After that place we walked down and explored lots and lots and lots (and lots) of souvenir shops. There was an ice cream parlor there that had a basket out front with all their scrap pieces of waffle cone. We being the poor, hungry teachers that we are, raided it so-to-speak. Ya all that was left was lots of tiny pieces. No shame. As we were walking around I got a swedish flag! Probly one of the only souvenirs I actually bought. It had a long stick that I didn’t think about dealing with when I bought it, but it was annoying the whole trip. I finally got rid of it when we were in Tallinn. So it rained. Lots. Every day. Glad I brought an umbrella though! After we got back to the hotel we suited up and went down to the hot tub and sauna. It was so nice. The hotel reminded me of Grandma Fergy’s condo a bit.

Video of the guard: http://youtu.be/IHh_V1n7MiA

Stockholm 014 (2)Day 4: Today we walked to the Vasa museum. It was an exhibition of a giant 17th century ship that they found in Stockholm harbor in the 90s! It was SO COOL! I was dumbfounded by how huge it was. I mean you see ships like that in movies and such, but you never really imagine how huge they actually are. Stockholm 004 (2)The whole museum had 6 floors. Definitely worth going. It was neat to see it and all the history about it and about ships in general. Afterwards we went back to the hotel to get our stuff and went to the airport. We were going to see the ABBA museum but we didn’t. I’m kind of regretting it. I love ABBA. Our flight to Riga took about a half an hour. It was crazy fast. I’ve realized how much I love flying! I like to think about how crazy it is that something that weighs so much can be so high above the ground. Same with boats, I mean I stand on a boogie board and sink, so what the crap physics. Stockholm 011 (2)Once in Riga we found our hotel and got hit on by a drunk guy that was driving around with his little dog. It’s a really funny story actually. Lots of laughs, ask any of us about it sometime. I can’t type it on here. We found a cute 50s bar that was playing some rocking music so we danced in the street! I’ve just started realizing how much I absolutely love oldies music. 20s, 40s, 50s, 60s. I love it. I also love cities at night when all their lights are on. I’ve only seen St. Pete once at night because of our curfew, but it was when we got out of the ballet. It was gorgeous. There’s something about cities at night that gets my blood pumping and clears my head.

LATVIA

Riga 002Day 5: In honor of Cinco de Mayo we listened to Shakira while getting ready in the morning. That’s about it. I mean even our resident mexican didn’t really do anything, but we were kind of in Latvia not Mexico so we didn’t feel bad. It’s kind of been nice in all the places we’ve gone to just have a sort of plan and do whatever we stumble upon. This day it was a tiny honey shop. We seriously spent like an hour in that place sampling honeys and buying things for our friends and family. I couldn’t resist. The honey they had was hand harvested by the shop owners and it was pure. I never knew there were so many different kinds of honey with so many different colors, flavors, and consistencies. I’ve never really liked honey that much. I’ve always been a peanut butter and jam kind of girl, and I still don’t think I could eat honey on a sandwich, but on bread, or even just plain, it’s good stuff. After that we wandered over and found a big tower with vines covering it that turned out to be a Latvian war museum. Riga 016It wasn’t really my slice of cake, but there was a part that had US uniforms and military flags along with our beautiful US flag. Lexi and I got so patriotic. We were singing “God Bless the USA” and saying the Pledge. It was a proud moment for us. We didn’t really see anything else. It was a nice laid-back day. For dinner we went to the most amazing restaurant and pub that the honey lady suggested we go to called “Ala” which means Cave in Latvian apparently. Everything was was cheap and delicious and the atmosphere was so cool! I loved it

Video at Ala: http://youtu.be/eJum8h8sJuE

Riga 005Day 6: We had an excursion 2 hours out the way of Riga to Cesis which is a small Latvian town that doesn’t really have much, but a big ruined castle! Kim had come 2 years ago when she taught in Moscow and she forbade us from looking up pictures so I had no clue what we were in for, but hoooly cow. Riga 028It was so freaking cool! It was I think from the 13th century, or something like that. Somebody correct me. and it was crumbling, but there were two towers still intact and we were able to go in one! They gave us a lantern and we were laughing about it at first because it was broad daylight, but dang, those spiral staircases were absolutely pitch black. Riga 039Kim, Hannah, and I went down a blocked off stairway. It was so terrifying. After we’d explored for a while we played two rounds of sardines. It was so much fun! It was still chilly, but meh, we got to see a castle! After we walked to a pond and fed some ducks and Lexi almost got attacked by a big swan. I was thinking about dad the whole time :) When we got back to Riga we were going to go to the restaurant we went to last night, but it was full, so we went to a latvian cuisine place with a nice waiter instead. I got some yummy, but very dry grey peas.

Video in Cesis: http://youtu.be/oTN2kg_CIKA

Riga 002Day 7: Today we literally had no plan. I mean we did, but we didn’t go by it. We just kind of did our own thing. Kim and I sat in a big cathedral for a long time. It was so quiet and peaceful and they were playing this very soft soothing music. Riga 021I felt like I was meditating. It was so nice. We then went to the other three cathedrals. Around the city were these giant snails. The first one I saw was black and I thought it had something to with the museum it was in front of, but no. They were just random snails all around town. I only saw two, black and green, but some of the other girls found more. Later that afternoon we got on a bus and headed to Tallinn. In Tallinn we rented a nice apartment for the weekend. I almost wish our apartment was as nice, but no. I love my apartment.

ESTONIA

Tallinn 007Day 8: So Miranda’s cousin’s girlfriend, Reesi, is Estonian and she was so nice and came to show us around Tallinn! We took two of our seven dwarfs pictures! They’re so cute. I’m excited to see them. Ya, we basically just followed Reesi around walking all day, but it was cool! Tallinn is really pretty. Tallinn 006For dinner we went to a super cheap and dark tavern where all they served was elk soup and meat and fruit pies (piorshkis) They also didn’t have spoons. We just drank out of our bowls by candlelight. It was so cool. The people who worked there were dressed in medieval garb. After dinner Reesi first took us down this skinny alley to a place where there were 700 year old giant headstones! It was so cool! I touched one. Then we went to an Estonian concert in the main square! It was fun, but I probly would’ve enjoyed it more if it were warmer and I could understand what they were singing, but you know, that’s the experience.

Tallinn 009Day 9: We didn’t do much, but what we did do was great! We split into two groups of four. Four of us decided to go to the beach and the other four went to this adventure park with ropes and ziplines and such. I’m actually glad I didn’t go with them because it saved me money AND we got to comb the beach for sea glass! It was overcast, but way warmer than the day before. The water was still cold, but that’s how the ocean is. We spent about an hour on the beach before it started raining.

Tallinn 013Day 10: We cleaned up and checked out of our apartment then walked around old town a bit. Then we went back to the apartment and ate some lunch then went to the beach again! I got some more sea glass. Then we went BACK to the apartment and chilled until it was time to head to the bus station to come home. But it was good I got some editing done on my pictures.

 

It was a really great, much needed vacation, but now I’m glad to be home in St Petersburg. 10 days of sleeping on strange beds, couches, and buses really makes you miss your own bed.

I don’t even know: http://youtu.be/4samLl397-U

Happy Easter!

10300286_10201928048869499_3918021192198010343_nHappy Easter! Kay, first, Sunday before last Miranda, Hannah, Bre and I went to the ballet! One of my students, Dianna’s, mom apparently works there and got tickets for us for free! We saw “Giselle” which was so beautiful, but sad. I’d never been to a ballet before so it was wonderful nonetheless. It was such a great experience! I didn’t want to leave Russia without going to the ballet because it was one of the main things I wanted to come see while I was here. So check that one off my list! 20140413_211407On Friday Miranda’s mom was here because she and Miranda were meeting up with her dad in Moscow that weekend, but while she was here, we went out. We went to a super cool anthropology museum by the Hermitage. There were so many exhibits about people and cultures from around the world! It was so cool. In the middle of the museum was a big room just filled with deformed and premature babies in jars. It was absolutely disgusting. What kind of people are these? They obviously attained these jars during some sketchy part of Russian history. It was gross. We kind of skimmed through that room. But it was such a cool museum. After, Miranda, Michaela, Miranda’s mom, and I walked over to Nevskiy Prospekt to the pie place we went before with Sveta, got some food, and then I went to a gift shop and got some postcards for my family. It was so warm and sunny! Spring is definitely here. It’s crazy. In just a weekend, it’s warmed up immensely. We haven’t worn coats, or even jackets, the entire weekend and the beginning of this week! Today in my class, I don’t have a window that opens and sometimes during the past two and a half months (almost 3 months! Holy crap!) It’s gotten a little warm and we’ve had to open the door, but today it was stifling. I opened the door  and intermittently throughout my lesson I’d just say “Pause!” and fan all the kids with a book. We’re going to die as it gets warmer. If I stop posting on here it means that I’m either one big procrastinator or have died of heat stroke from my classroom. It sure makes outside nice and cool though. One thing with it getting warmer is bugs. You always get dumbed down to bugs during Winter because you don’t see them, then when they pop out in the spring they’re always terrifying. I got scared by a butterfly the other day, I mean…. no I didn’t. What are you talking about? But no, there was a mosquito in my room last night and I was going survival mode behind a drape. And a bee liked my face today. I hate bugs. They’re my worst fear. I was watching Divergent and I was thinking that if I were ever put in a fear simulation thing I think I’d die because there’d be a terrifying thing with lots of big flying bugs. Uhn. I hate them. Easter was so nice and fun! Miranda’s mom brought us Robin Eggs which are my favorite (I finished the whole bag in like 2 hours). On Sunday we went to church in our bright Easter colors, then went to the Hermitage. We’re trying to make it a thing we do after church on Sunday because it’s free and it’s a good Sunday activity. Then after the museum we came home and all started on making dinner! We had deviled eggs, funeral potatoes, green beans, rolls, and yummy pie! It was a good meal. Hannah’s parents were here and had dinner with us. After dinner Kim had us go out into the hall, closed the door and hid all the crafty paper eggs she stuffed with candy. While we were waiting we ran up and down and everywhere on the stairs and elevator. Then she gave us the okay and we tore the whole apartment apart. It was somewhat of a cat fight to death hunger games style. We’re not children, what are you talking about? But it was fun. Good stuff.

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Cinnamon roll cake
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My ‘slice’ of cinnamon roll cake

Last Frrr…… Thursday was my half birthday! Kim told us at the beginning to pick a day to have our ‘birthdays’ if we didn’t celebrate our birthdays here so I picked that. Kim asked me what kind of cake I wanted and I told her that I didn’t really feel like having cake, but her cinnamon rolls were prime and that’s what I wanted instead. We didn’t do anything for it on Thursday, but Saturday I didn’t go on excursion because I didn’t feel good, but in the morning before Lexi, Bre, and Kim left they woke me up with “Lucy! Lucy! Lucy! It’s your birthday!!” then they hurried me into the kitchen and Kim had made me a giant cinnamon roll! It was huge! It was the most glorious and amazing and wonderful thing I’d ever seen in my life! Nothing will ever compare again.

This week the directors are here (Miranda and Hannah’s dads) for mid-semester evaluations. Today was the first day I was evaluated. It was a little terrifying because it was Old Kindergarten which is insane. Those kids are crazy. But it went okay. It wasn’t terrible. It’ll probly be easier when they come to Private III because the kids are 10x better. A bad day at Private III is a good day at Old Kindergarten. Next week we’re leaving for Big Vacation! I’m so excited! I’m not gonna say anything about it right now cause I’ll tell you after we get back ;) But Miranda’s dad brought my camera from home so I’m set as far as taking pictures goes!! I’m so happy. It was like Christmas. Mom also sent my sunglasses with him. I’ve used them every day for the past week :))) I do need to figure out shorts though. Either buy some or make some from the jeans I have. Idk, We’ll see.

Talk to you later!

Lucy

p.s. I hope you don’t mind that these are so long. I like to type.

April & Vacation

Happy April everybody!

For April fools Lexi and Kim had lots of fun lol. To start they glued kopeks to the floor of our apartment building because they knew I pick up every kopek I see. 1978593_716024028421129_536817772_oThey tied all the toilet paper to a string and hung it in a bag out the window. We could’ve easily gone and gotten it but we decided to just go with it. It’s funny we got a call from Alla telling us that the babushka below us called her to let her know that something was hanging down in front of her window. We told her that it was just joke and she laughed. Umm, there was just a bunch of stuff that went on throughout the day. Bree and Lexi found a bag of costumes in their room and had a fashion show, then they duct taped Kim in the bathroom and told her there was a snake in the washer. They put my toothbrush in a bag and froze it in jello. Kim, Lexi, and I made ourselves duct tape mustaches. It was a party. Also our Russian teacher texts Kim and asks her why I’m being sent home. Kim almost had a heart attack until he told her that it was a joke. He also texted me asking if I wanted to join the other girls for disco. Idk, he’s a weird guy.

Despite it being April, its still pretty much Winter here. Its just barely on the edge of Winter and Spring, we’re just waiting on it to take the leap.

 

This past weekend we had our second vacation! We went to Vilnius Lithuania! K, I’m just gonna post my journal entries like I did last time.

“Friday, April, 4th, 2014

We just drove all night on a bus from St Petersburg to Riga Latvia! Now we’re on a bus from Riga to Vilnius Lithuania! I’m so excited! Right now it’s about 9 am and it’s super sunny! Latvia is so pretty! There’re so many trees. The trees are tall and skinny and would remind me of redwoods if they were taller. And even though they’re all still in their Winter-phase, they’re still beautiful. I love it. It’s just countryside. It reminds me of America with subtle European hints. I just saw a windmill! I’ve never seen one in real life before! No mountains still. I miss mountains. But it’s nice to be out of the city for a bit though. I don’t have anyone sitting next to me which is nice. I didn’t on the bus ride to Riga either, but Kim’s seatmate was drunk so she came and sat by me.

It really sucks not having a phone. No camera, no internet. I was thinking not having my phone would make me more aware of the beauty around me, but it’s just made me more aware of the fact that I can’t take pictures of it. It really sucks.

1901711_10201728428639118_4863252445099563753_nLithuania is so amazing! It’s so adorable and classy! I almost wish I’d gone here instead of St Petersburg. I was going to. It hasn’t really been warm here, but it’s warmer than St Pete. So today we arrived and checked into our hotel which is way nice and only cost $11 for the one night per person! There’re two levels of the room. It’s really modern and classy.

We decided to walk around Old Town! It’s so adorable. I got a new wallet! I love it. It’s so spacious and darling. That’s pretty much all we did. It was really nice. We also got pizza for dinner.

 

Saturday, April, 5th, 2014

Today is the most beautiful day in all of existence. We’re just sitting in a park in Old Town while a few of the other girls shop for souvenirs, just enjoying the sun and feeding the birds! It’s so nice to just sit. There’s this little girl about 2 who’s feeding the birds with her mom and she is SO cute. I love how relaxed Lithuanians are. I have never seen any russians stroll. I don’t think they know how to stroll, but everyone here strolls and I love it! I also love the way adults get around kids. Their hard exteriors fade away.

This is such a wonderful adventure. I’m across the world from my home and it’s absolutely beautiful! I love this place so much. The people are so nice, the air and city are cleaner, plus there’re hills. Hills are as close to mountains as we can get. Lithuanians are so classy. Gah! I never want to leave. I wish we were spending more than two days here. We’re leaving tonight.

I think here in this park, the warm sun shining and the peacefulness, is my new happy place. I am purely happy. The only thing making me sad is thinking about leaving. It’s absolutely spring here. It’s so warm, but just a tad bit chilly. It’s so clear and sunny and THERE ARE FLOWERS! There’s a little sparrow just sitting, chirping right by my foot. There’re tiny green leave on the bushes and pussywillows on the trees. I feel like we’re gonna go back to St. Pete and it’s gonna be drab, grey, and wintry still.

I think one of the things I love about this place is that the sun is on the right schedule. In St Pete the first half of the day looks like 10 am and the second half of the day looks like 4 pm. You can never tell what time it is by looking at the sun. Here is just like home. The sun goes in an arc. Right now it’s 6 pm and it looks like 6 pm. I don’t know why this makes me so happy. It also helps that it’s so warm. I’ve taken my coat off like 4 times throughout the day. We were gonna rent bikes, but the machine wouldn’t accept our cards. I’m kinda bummed, but its okay. I’m in Vilnius Lithuania! And it’s my new favorite city.

10175011_10201728464560016_5458549985564855483_nEarlier we hiked up this huge hill to this tower/castle thing that was super cool! We walked through this huge awesome square where everyone would just chill. We went to a KGB/genocide museum that was actually pretty interesting. In the basement was an old KGB prison with lots of cells. There was a super creepy padded cell with a black straightjacket in it. It may or may not give me nightmares. There was also this bald Italian man that scared me. He looked like a mix between Voldemort and Doc Brown. When he looked at you his eyes bore into your soul.

For dinner we got some super yummy Lithuanian burritos and then went and got some ice cream. I got vanilla. It’s my go-to flavor for when I can’t decide. You can’t go wrong with vanilla, it’s either good or better. Once it started to get dark, the sunset and then twilight on the river was absolutely breathtaking. I almost cried. I was quietly singing What a Wonderful World because it fit the moment. The sky was such a gorgeous shade of dark blue and purple. I wished so badly that I could take a picture. It probably wouldn’t even capture the true beauty of it. I wish I could relive walking along that river, admiring the sky, over and over. We walked an eternity to get to the bus station. We chilled in a bookstore in the mall next to the stop until it closed, then we parked ourselves on the bus stop bench until the bus came. The ride home was okay. I got stuck next to a russian girl that I didn’t even talk to. But I watched Les Miserables and Forrest Gump. It was a good trip, but sure enough, St Petersburg was gloomy and cloudy and cold and wet. Home sweet home.”

 

Because we were on vacation we missed the Saturday session of General Conference, so I’ve been catching up. I still have to watch half of Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. I love Conference. I never realized how much I would miss watching it with my family though. But, because I watch it by myself with my earbuds in, I do get more out of it because there are less distractions. I’ll probably watch more this upcoming weekend because I’ll have more free time. They actually broadcast it at church this Sunday so we’ll be able to watch it then. Almost all the talks seem to pertain to me. It’s crazy how revelation works, especially for general authorities. They manage to give talks to 15 million people and they’re still so incredibly personal. I love this church. It’s amazing.

Miranda’s dad is one of the ILP directors and he’s coming to stay with us this weekend. That’s pretty much the only out of the ordinary thing that’s going on. We got back from vacation and back into our routine. Not super exciting, but it’s never boring. These kids keep me on my toes.

Lucy

Another Week Gone

1976952_10201684816108832_2012314645_nThis Saturday Sveta took us to the Church of Christ on Spilled Blood! It was really pretty! And dude! It was super sunny and warm (as far as St. Pete in March goes) and that got all of us in such a great mood! At least I was. Sveta told us that there are really only 50 really sunny days a year and yesterday was one of them. It was glorious. So we went to the Church on Spilled Blood which looks sort of like St. Basil’s cathedral that we saw in Moscow, but the tower dome things are blue and yellow instead of lots of different colors. It’s called the Church on Spilled Blood because it was built around the spot where Alexander II was killed. They still had the patch of cobblestones inside the church where it happened. Inside was so amazing! Every square bit of wall/ceiling space is covered in mosaic. Sveta said that it’s 7000 square feet of mosaic. And there’s got to be over like 5 billion pieces. It was crazy. And it was so pretty. It was all apostles and biblical stories. I felt so proud, on one of the ceilings in the four corners was a six winged lion, six winged ox, six winged man, and six winged bird and I was like “Dude! The book of Revelation! I know this stuff!” So glad I paid attention in institute. After the cathedral, we went over to the Mikalovsky theater to see if we could buy tickets to the ballet, but we decided to wait because Sveta says that she thinks that one of the students moms can get us a discount. We’re hoping to go see Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. I’ve never been to a ballet. I’ve been to an opera, but Megan says that ballets are better. After we stopped at the theater, Sveta took us to a really awesome restaurant that served these flat pastries that she called pies that were stuffed! They were super cheap too, and SO good. I got a mozzarella and tomato one and a sweet cream cheese one. They were super good. We need to go back soon.

Today we had stake conference. It’s awesome to see how many members of the church are in St Pete. It’s also awesome that the missionaries are willing to translate for us. It’s super nice of them.

After church we decided to go to the Hermitage again because we get in for free with our student cards and its a pretty good Sunday activity. We got there and it was pouring rain, not only that, but the line to get in was forever long, but we were troopers and not quitters apparently, so we stayed in line. We got inside and we were frozen and soaked, but hey, Hermitage. It was worth it. We saw some Picasso pieces which I guess were cool, but they weren’t super exciting. Sorry Picasso fans. There was lots of misshapen nudes. Kinda funny actually. Body parts in weird places. It cracked me up.

Right now we’re booking our bus tickets to our Lithuania vacation in two weeks :) I’m pretty excited.

Okay. Things I need to talk to you about Russia and my experience.

  • We have to wear shoes for outside and shoes for inside. It’s weird but makes sense, especially because its so dirty outside. I just wish it didn’t take up so much needed space in my bag. I’m glad I brought some and didn’t need to buy some here. I just use my tan sparkly flats and some ratty black toms I found here in the closet.
  • The apartment water in the bathroom is super hot. We figured out that if you’re taking a fairly hot shower and someone turns on the cold water in the kitchen, it will direct all and any cold water to the kitchen and leave you with pure heat. It kills. We have to be really careful and shower before or after someone does the dishes. The water in the bathroom sink is bipolar. It’s always a 50/50 chance when I brush my teeth on whether I get scalding water or coldish water. Some of us brush our teeth in the kitchen a lot because it’s the only place in the apt where you can really control the water temperature.
  • Russians go by 24 hour time. It’s SO hard to get used to. We have to figure it out every time. All I know is 22:00 is 10 pm. Gosh dang it, why can’t the whole world just go by am pm like us. It’s so much easier. I guess it’s just because I’m not used to it.
  • New russian words: “сегодня” which means “Today” that I actually had to use on Ludmilla when I was trying to tell her that Mark couldn’t get a prize on Thursday. I was going to give you a list, but no other words are coming to my mind at the moment.

Monday we had parent observation day at Private 3. I was super nervous about it, but it went pretty well. I made a super cute Frozen SPE. I drew a picture book, an ice castle, and drew the heads of all the characters and stuck them on sticks. I also stayed up till 2 am last Sunday laminating them with clear scotch tape because I spent so much time on them that I didn’t want them to get ruined. The things I do and the sleep I lose for these kids. But apparently the parents loved it! I’m so relieved. We have parent observation day for Basic Reading on Wednesday and for Old Kindergarten Primary on Thursday. I’m not super nervous about primary, just except trying to impress parents and control their children at the same time, but I haven’t done evals for Basic Reading yet and I have no idea how to do it. I’m not a super impressive teacher, I just go by the book and try and come up with activities that they would enjoy and learn from at the same time. It’s actually easier teaching the alphabet and reading  than just words, not to mention my basic reading kids are older and easier to control. I love all my students though. It’s always an adventure. Honestly the thing I dread most is just planning lessons. Once I’ve written everything down and gathered my supplies, its pretty easy, I just have the hardest time coming up with SPE ideas and steps.

Thursday I got pooped on by a bird in a tree. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. We were walking and I felt something hit my face. I exclaimed because I thought it was snow. Bree turned around and started cracking up! It was traumatizing but we were laughing so hard all the way home! Knock that off my bucketlist lol

Anyway, have a great week.

Lucy

P.S. German has ruined me. I’m in Russia! I need to speak Russian, not German! German is just so much easier. We use the same alphabet and some of the same words, which we do in Russian too, but not as many. Grammar is easier in German too. Its really funny, German has also ruined me in the fact that I always capitalize my nouns and titles. It’s a curse. I’m hard-wired for English and German, not Russian :P

MOCKBA

Ok, before I tell you about Moscow, I need to tell you about the week before because I’m super bad about updating this :P

So last weekend was the holiday Масленица which is where they burn a straw ‘winter witch’ to celebrate the coming of spring! The Friday before last our classes only went an hour because the kids had a celebration where they played relay games to celebrate the Olympics and then they performed. At the end one of the teachers grabbed our hands and pulled us in to dance with the little kids! It was so much fun! The kids got a kick out of it too.

Kindergarten Maslenitsa Celebration: http://youtu.be/L85vTwvO-WU

That Sunday after church we went to the Peter and Paul fortress for a big Maslenitsa festival! there was music and dancing and food, though I didn’t get any, the smell was so good. It was magical. I love Russians, and now I’m in love with Russian music.

Peter and Paul Maslenitsa Festival: http://youtu.be/0a3LR3mau34

This past Monday night my phone just shut down, it’s a long story and I don’t have time or space to tell it all because you’ll get super bored, but my phone is out of order for the rest of the trip. My beautiful wonderful roommate Lexi is letting me use her extra phone for the camera. It’s honestly an answer to my prayers and I’m so grateful. Thanks Lex :) So ya. Tuesday was one of the worst days of my life. I was so stressed and frustrated and REALLY didn’t want to teach, but had to. Ugh. But oh well, it’s over and I’m good now.

Ok, Moscow. We took a sleeper train Thursday night and got to Moscow around 5 am Friday morning. We chilled in the train station until it was pretty much okay to go down in the metro, which is CRAZY btw because Moscow is so big. Before I start going off, I think I’m just going to type up my journal entries for those days. It’s easier.

“Friday, March, 7th, 2014,          We’re in Moscow! We’re sitting in the train station. It’s funny, there are pigeons that’ll swoop down from the ceiling. I feel like I’m in a birds of paradise show except with pigeons. It’s pretty funny. We’re trying to decide what we’re gonna do today. It’s 6:30 am and I don’t think I’ve ever been this alert this early. Keep you posted. —

1907571_10202579080451879_1822176962_nIt’s 9:30 am and we’re in a beautiful convent courtyard cemetery. The sun came out which makes me super happy because that plus the birds singing, makes it seem like spring, even though it’s still pretty cold, but it’s still the morning so we’ll see. Everything is so old and solemn. Oh my gosh, I would love to just come here and sit and listen and think. It’s so peaceful. I need to find a place like this in Utah, somewhere where I can just go and think. 1962622_10201654392031048_129672838_nThe birds chirping are so lovely. There’s also a crow that isn’t quite and lovely, but hey, it’s a bird. Moscow is so beautiful. St. Pete is beautiful too, but in its own way. Today is just pretty. I love sunshine. —

Everything today is just amazing. I don’t know how to feel, but overall just amazement. We walked around and outside the Kremlin. We didn’t go inside because that’s what we’re doing tomorrow, but I caught a glimpse of St. Basil’s! It was so cool and SO surreal. I can’t wait to see it for real tomorrow. We walked to a bridge that had these metal trees that people would put love locks on and throw the key into the river! There were maybe four or five brides and grooms that were there. Lexi's iPhone 769We’re at a park right by it just chilling for a bit. I’m glad we’ve had time to just sit. It’s really nice. I love the sunshine. Moscow is so absolutely beautiful. Everywhere we’ve walked, which has been a lot of places, has been so beautiful. I looked at a building and I thought it looked very European like France, but then there was some domed cathedral in the background and I’m like “ope, Russia”. I’m glad to be here. I’m also glad we’ve got a vacation, even if it’s just for the weekend. Lexi's iPhone 776Goodness gracious this sun feels amazing. I have a coat on so it’s warming me up very nicely. My hand are still quite cold though lol. I would love to just come to this park and just sit and think all day when it was warmer. Maybe have a picnic. There’s a babushka on the bench next to us. We think she’s dead. Like no joke. She might be sleeping but I can’t see her breathing. I’m a little frightened. There’s also a couple cuddling across from us that would be super cute if he wasn’t smoking. Idk, maybe it turns her on. —

So Megan, Bree, Lexi, and I are staying at Megan’s cousin’s house! He lives here in Moscow with his adorable family! It’s so great, their house, he calls it “Little America”, it makes me feel like I’m back at home. They watched the Cosby Show and Studio C and read the scripture as a family. It’s making me miss America so much. They even have a minivan with the family decals on the back window. Patrick’s wife, Cindy, made us apple crumble. I miss Utah. His kids are SO cute. I love them. But it’s a party. I feel so at home here. I love Mormons, especially american ones that live in a country full of austere Russians. Even the LDS Russians in our ward aren’t as homey. I love it. I’m gonna be so sad to leave here and go back to St Petersburg. It’s been one of the most amazing days of all time. Everything has just gone right. Sunshine and beautiful Moscow and wonderful food and an amazing LDS american home. I love it. I hope tomorrow is just as good! You know, this week I’ve had one of the worst days and one of the best. I guess the worst was just to contrast the best :)

Lexi's iPhone 783Saturday, March, 8th, 2014,          Today was amazing! We did Red Square! We went and saw Lenin’s tomb, which wasn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be. Idk what my expectations were actually. We went to a beautiful french-looking mall to look around. We got some really good ice cream. Next we went to St. Basil’s! It was SO unreal. It’s the most iconic thing in Russia. I’ve only ever dreamed about going to see it and I finally did! I never ever thought I would. It was so crazy. The inside was so old and absolutely beautiful. Gah! It was unreal. I got some good artistic pictures. Next we got lunch and went to the Kremlin. It was only the armory, but it was so cool! There were old coronation dresses and stagecoaches and suits of armor. It was pretty cool. It was really nice because since there were so many tourists, we could act like americans. I loved it.

Lexi's iPhone 844Sunday, March, 9th, 2014,          Today I slept in. It was wonderful. We took it nice and slow this morning while Patrick and his family went to church. I really wanted to go to church too but no one else was. But I slept in. It was great. I had Trix for breakfast and played with the dog and I took a mini nap. This afternoon we said goodbye and thanked Patrick and his family and he drove us to Измайлово which is a big souvenir market to meet up with the rest of our group. We explored for a couple hours. I got a matrioshka doll and some ornaments for my mom. I love them. The market was awesome! As in full of awe! It was so cool. Now we’re on a sleeper train on our way home to St Pete. I have mixed feelings. I miss Moscow already, but St Pete is my home. My real bed and internet and clothes and my kids and my easy-peasy metro system. Plus the river and all the landmarks. Oh well. It’s been a good vacation.

Lucy”

Btw, One of these days I’ll get pictures up for you. I was trying to decided whether to stick them in the posts or just put together a gallery. I’ll keep you posted.

Titles are overrated

Oh my goodness, it’s already been 2 weeks?! That’s crazy. It feels like yesterday that we arrived. School is okay. It’s pretty hard, especially when we have to keep the kids talking for 25 minute at a time and I can’t even stay talking myself for that long. It’s a work-in-progress. Teaching kids is a whole lot different than just entertaining them. I’m sure it’ll get easier. And apparently we’re all doing really good, despite how bad at it we think we are. That’s a definite confidence booster. Also, Pinterest is my salvation. I think I’d wear my brain raw if I didn’t have Pinterest. Praise the Pinterest gods.

So at the old kindergarten there are 2 Ludmilla’s. The blonde one is the principal and the brunette one is the vice principal? I’m not sure. But she’s basically the warden. She kind of reminds us of Trunchbull from Matilda. But she’s a sweetheart. That’s pretty much how all Russians are. But honestly, she’s my favorite person. She’s so cute and always makes sure we’re taken care of. I had Alla tell Ludmilla that I needed to go see the nurse for my cough and they both were like fawning all over me like “oh you poor thing” it was cute. They were very accommodating btw. And every time Alla or Ludmilla sees me, they start “oh poor thing, are you feeling better?” Lol it’s nice to know I’m cared about.
Pretty much every day we come over to the old kindergarten to have lunch. It’s always SO good. We always have soup and tea and bread. The cook is so cute, she has a blue apron and a tall Russian chef hat and she can’t speak English (almost no one can) so she mimes what we do with the food. It’s funny.

20140212-125116.jpgThis is what our lunches usually look like. They’re so good!
It’s funny, everyone laughs because I’m the skinniest but I eat the most because everything is just so good! Like there’s joke going that if you have any food you don’t want to finish, Lucy’ll finish it. And I will! I love this food. I’m never going back to American soup. Russian soup is my favorite. Their bread is more dense as well. We always have soup with bread and some kind of meat and tea, though we just found out that the super yummy tea that they’ve been giving us is black tea :( it’s makes us super sad and in a really tough position because just asking for water is like rejecting their service. Oh well, we’ll figure out something. Maybe we can tell Alla that we only drink herbal tea and she’ll let them know. This sucks. I really liked that tea. It was one of the main highlights of lunch. Herbal tea is never as good. I guess it’s worth it to keep the word of wisdom.

A few things I’ve noticed while I’ve been here:

  • 1890351_10152169235112440_1390760207_o• Angry Birds is a really big thing here.
    • The water temperature in the apartment is either cold or fires of Mordor. Makes showering a fun experience.
    • If you don’t smile you’ll get less wrinkles.
    • Everyone has a personal bubble, unless you’re on the metro in which case it’s “let’s see how close we can get to each other” it helps that we’re all wearing coats for padding.
    • They don’t have cheddar cheese (second world probs)
    • You think driving is bad in Utah, try being in Russia where there is no enforcement and the lines on the road don’t mean anything. I’m surprised there aren’t more crashes.
    • Babies and little kids look like marshmallows all bundled up.
    • The sun comes up around 10 am and it stays in pretty much the same spot all day.
    • People will wear anything to keep them warm.
    • Don’t question the meat, just eat it.
    • The grass is as tough as the people. The snow melted and it was green.
    • The metro, besides the sound of the train moving, is dead silent. Everyone keeps to themselves all the time. We were joking about how they find people to date, like is it whoever you can maintain eye contact for longer than five seconds? Lol idk
  • Unibrows are in apparently

To be continued…

The First Actual Week

1619643_10202374000965020_1484711197_nWe’ve only been here 11 days but it feels like an eternity. We had our first week of teaching. It was hectic and frustrating and overwhelming, but there were good parts too. I taught this kid the word black and he remembered it! I thought it was a pretty great accomplishment for me. I’m pretty sure it’s his new favorite color too lol
I teach with Bryanna at a private school on Mondays and Wednesdays and at the old kindergarten right across from our apartment on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Saturdays our culture coordinator, Sveta, either takes us somewhere or shows us how to make food. Last Saturday she taught us how to make Blini! We put jam and сметана, which is a sort of sour cream/cream cheese type of stuff, on them. Sveta is appalled that we don’t have it in America because it really is good.
On Friday we didn’t have any classes in the afternoon, so we went and explored St Pete! We, uh, got lost which would’ve been super fun, but I had to pee the whole time and my phone died so I couldn’t take pictures. I didn’t really enjoy it, so to speak. Next time we need to go when it’s warm, with a fully charged phone, bathroom breaks, and sunshine.
Lucy's iPhone 285 (2)Yesterday Sveta took us to the Hermitage museum! It was probably the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my entire life. It is a museum spread across 4 buildings: the winter palace, the new hermitage, the old hermitage, and the other hermitage. We started in the winter palace which was so beautiful with it’s baroque style architecture and art! There was lots of woodwork mouldings and gold leaf. I loved it.
Halfway through, a group of Russian guys about our age in military uniforms were ‘discreetly’ following us around. Sveta said that they were hinting that they wanted a picture with us. “American beauties” is what she said lol. Then these other Russian guys asked to get their picture taken with us. Yep, we’re celebrities. Pretty awesome.
Oh my goodness, they had two actual paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, two actual paintings by Rafael, and an actual sculpture by Michelangelo! It was pretty surreal. I was drinking it in. They also had some Rembrandts. There were some beautiful nude statues of Greek gods, some Grecian urns (“ONE Grecian urn!”) And an ancient Egypt exhibit! There were hieroglyphics and sarcophagi and a real life mummy! SO freaking cool! I think that and the Da Vinci paintings were my favorite parts. Sveta was the best tour guide :) She’s so cute. She’s so enthusiastic about showing us everything.
We didn’t get to see the whole museum, but we spent 3 hours. Apparently if you spend 30 seconds at each exhibit, it would take 8 years to see everything. Yep, it’s that big. We’ll be going back soon.
Afterward she took us to a Russian fast food place called теремок, which was pretty good! It was funny, there was a guy from Minnesota in the line with us. We were like “American! Speak English with us!” He and his friends were going down to Sochi for the Olympics. It was pretty cool.