It’s been another busy week, with lessons finally kicking off and a timetable being sorted thanks to a friendly professor in the History faculty who volunteered to act as a sort of ‘tutor’ for me and Anna. More importantly I’ve begun actually speaking Russian with other students here and have met up with a few of them for lunches and walks along the river in Kazan (the key Russian national pastimes are walking and sitting on benches).
This Sunday was our first proper break from lessons, and so we had lots of fun things planned! We began our day with a well-deserved lie-in, before heading off into the centre of town to have lunch with Adelya and Emiliya who we had met whilst sorting out our internet connection at the student accommodation. Following lunch we walked up to the Kremlin again to go and visit a modern art gallery that Anna had heard about. It was a very small exhibition, but very interesting. It discussed the ‘living shrines’ people create on social media which represent themselves (I can appreciate the irony of writing this on a blog about myself!) and the ways in which the ‘virtual realm’ has been added onto the more established ‘spiritual’ and ‘living’ realm as a means of providing answers about reality and life.
It was a good thing that the exhibition wasn’t too long, as we had to rush back to our student accommodation to meet up with some more friends we had collected along our way! A masters student from Indonesia called Joyce had noticed us speaking English on the bus last week and introduced herself to us. After having a friendly chat with her, she promised to invite us to meet with some of her Russian friends who were looking to practise their English and with whom we could practise Russian also. We went up to their communal kitchen and met four first year students who were very shy at first, but soon warmed up to us over some tea and snacks.
In the evening, following a very ‘Russian-speaking’ day , we were glad to be meeting up with some of the other students from England. Of course, Russian nightlife was a bit different to English nightlife! After some cheap drinks in what is best described as a ‘bunker of a Wetherspoons’, we moved on to a karaoke bar. After ordering tall towers of beer for us to share, we requested some Western songs and enjoyed the atmosphere. However, it soon became apparent that this was strictly an evening for Russians rather than us loutish students; but if you can’t beat them, join them! We attempted our best to sing along to some classic Russian tunes including a lovely number about a horse which then turned into a song about loving Russia and a song called ‘American Boy / American Joy’. After a slightly scary taxi drive home, we got told off at the main gates for breaking our 11pm curfew (can you imagine this being the case for English student accommodation!? on a Saturday night too!) before settling down for some much needed sleep.
P.S. I didn’t know where to put this in this post, but this was our teachers desk the other day. Thankfully I didn’t have to sit on the desk, staring into Putin’s stern and wise eyes.