Tuesday, July 3, 2012


As most already know, I am already back in the United States.
The trip was long but... surprisingly... easy. Two days on a train, one day in Moscow with a night in a hostel (also met up with fellow Fulbrighter, Brian) the next day a flight into Washington and then Boston and then home. Absolutely nothing went wrong.
The only remotely interesting things that happened on this trip were:
- A Ukrainian woman in the hostel heard my accent and thought I was from Dagestan. Another person said I sounded South Ossetian.... but then a different person said I still sounded just American.
-A Tajik in the hostel told me I was fat and most likely out of shape. (Anyone who knows me knows this is pretty far from the truth)
-When I got to the Passport Control just about to officially leave the Russian Federation, I gathered all my documents... my passport, visa, migration card, and my precious REGISTRATION- that document that I went through so much to legitimize, paid a fine, risked deportation, encountered the Ugly Sweater Lady and the Bashkir Hotel that still thinks I should be deported.... I had every past registration ready in a bag in my hand, but still hoping that my current registration was enough and nobody would ask any more questions.... I hand the registration over... and then.... "What is this? We don't need this."
-I almost missed my connection flight home, as I was given only an hour to go through customs, find my bags and re-check them, and find the next terminal which was located as far away as one could possibly place it in the same airport... so, just like a scene from a movie, I ran through the entire Washington Dulles airport, screaming, EXCUSE ME, COMING THROUGH, ИЗВИНИТЕ!! in frantic, exhausted half English/half residual Russian, in five-inch heels.
Everyone was making fun of me for wearing the heels. What, was I supposed to dig through my bags and find another pair of shoes for the occasion? Or go barefoot?

So now that I'm home and *almost* over my jetlag, it's time to review the things I'll miss and not miss about Chelyabinsk, the Urals, and I guess Russia even though I'll be back before too long.

-Bureaucracy and Bureaucrats, particularly Ugly Sweater Lady (the woman who said I should be deported)
-Constant subzero temperatures in the winter
-The dry climate in the spring that makes me thirsty all the time
-The air pollution.
-Young women who make a point of not eating anything.
-Heavy-drinking, heavy-smoking, bulge-eyed, barrel-chested, Severe Chelyabinsk Men (Суровые Челябинские Мужики, this really doesn't translate well). Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of handsome Russian gentlemen, even in Chelyabinsk, but the stereotypical image of this kind of Russian man is not attractive to me. At all.
-Couples that comprise of the aforementioned Chelyabinsk Man with a beautiful woman, who engage in public displays of affection... especially in places where there is nowhere to escape, like Platzcart Trains.
-Students who give every excuse to not come to class.
-"Passport chasers." People who are interested in you only because of your nationality or citizenship, be it American or any other. This works both ways.
-Chelyabinsk drivers. (Although where I live now is not known for the best road etiquette, and most certainly not where I am going for the next year!)
-KEFIR. Can't say I'll ever learn to like that stuff.
-Being told I am not dressed warm enough, or that something cold is going to make me sick.

-My friends, my students (well, most of them) and my Chelyabinsk colleagues who have become like family this year.
-My awesome apartment.
-The Ural Mountains.
-Going to the Ural Mountains to camp out in a cabin when it was 20 below.
-Going tubing in the Ural Mountains when it was almost 30 below.
-Shashlik, kumyz, vareniki, adzhika, Abkhaz wine, oliv'ye, solyanka, ukha, vostochnaya khukhnya, lagman, bulochki.
-Marriage proposals from various Central Asians.
-Gagarin Park.
-The train ride from Ufa to Chelyabinsk.
-Bargaining at markets.
-Bargaining with taxi drivers.
-Meeting people and allowing them to mistakenly guess where I am from.
-Walking back home from class in heels.
-Bashkir ice cream.
-Getting lost in South Ural State University.
-The sun rising at 4am and setting at 23.30.
-Just being able to walk everywhere (almost) on foot.
-Walking along the river bank, along the Miass.
-The Communist Babushkas who used to give me pamphlets around election time.
-The guy dressed up as an eyeball who stood outside on Lenin Avenue a few times every week.
-Blinni stands.
-Kriov street.
-Very beautiful and very inexpensive clothing (in Kyrgyzstan).
-Understanding jokes in Russian, even having dreams in Russian.
-Teaching grammar with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Barenaked Ladies.
-Oh heck, even the Soviet track I used to run around, I will kind of miss it...


  1. This was a great blog, thanks very much for sharing!

  2. A blog, and a good one, on life in Chelyabinsk.

    I'm heading there in January and was looking for some background reading, and after looking I think that yours may be unique in the Interweb. :)

    Thanks, Matt S.