So, I just put all my blogs in one document and I have reached thirty two pages already. I really write an awful lot, don’t I? I only now realise it, but there’s just so much to tell about this lovely city! So, let me get to that now!
I did not have to get up all too early because I only had class at eleven thirty, so when Camille and Thomas already had class I still lay in bed, but I did get up in time so I could take a shower and I was awake pretty early again anyway, as usual.
And then I went to my class, which as always was very interesting and lots of fun as well. We talked about a lot of themes again. We started out talking about which things matter most in life for Russians. I found the list quite interesting. Peace was in the first place, followed by safety and obeying the law. In the third place was stability and then having a job. In the fifth place was having a family, then justice and patriotism. In the eight place was freedom, then culture and then love. I really thought freedom and love would be higher up in that list. I was quite surprised about it. I think in Belgium the order would be quite different. Patriotism would definitely be in the last place and freedom would be higher up.
Next we talked about death and how Russians feel about it. According to Maria Russians do not really worry about or fear death. I think in Belgium it is different because there’s not really one religion anymore and I think everyone feels different towards it, so it’s difficult to say which kind of feeling towards death is the most common in Belgium. I guess some fear it, some don’t, but there’s not one line that is more present than the other.
Next we talked about superstition. Apparently Russians are very superstitious. I remember that in my blog about Moscow I once talked about this article that talked about Russian superstitions. Maria told me about a couple of those. She said Russians really care about superstitions. And, I’ve noticed that while being here. Russians, for example, say you cannot whistle inside a house because then you will not have any money. When we were in Tsarsoe Selo someone of our group whistled inside the lyceum and the dejoernaja immediately told him to stop. So, that superstition at least lives very much here. I told Maria that in Belgium we have a lot of superstitions, but that we more or less use them as jokes and don’t really believe in them anymore. I think most people have different feelings with seeing a black cat than fear. Apart from knocking on wood, that one we still do a lot, but I believe it’s one of the only ones.
Then we read a text about alcoholism and why Russians drink so much. It’s not because their lives are so hard. It actually has a historical reason. I forgot about it already, but because I’m so terribly kind I’m going to look it up for you right now in the text. Okay, it’s quite a lot to tell in this blog, but I’ll just give a few examples. In history, it was not really normal to just drink without eating. Then, Ivan the Terrible became acquainted with taverns which were common with other peoples and thought this was a nice idea. So, he started taverns as well where drinks (spirits) were sold without food. Also, Peter the Great and Staling used vodka as a kind of lie detector. They gave people vodka in order to get them drunk so they would tell the truth, because they believed that people loosen up in what they say when they’re drunk (which is actually true).
And then we also read a text about economics, again like yesterday to become acquainted with the words and expressions used in this field. And we also practiced expressing time (like: While I was doing this that happened). I already knew that, but it is always good to repeat these kinds of things every now and then. It was good practice.
We also watched a piece from a movie about Maslenitsa. It’s a Russian holiday and it showed what Russians do on Maslenitsa. It’s a very cheerful day, so it seemed in the movie and well… everyone is happy and they do all kinds of things and everyone gathers. Yeah, it seemed nice.
We also watched a kind of Sovietmovie which was actually very funny. It was about a man and a woman and the man read in the newspaper that from that day on the punishment for one or another crime was ten years. Now, that man had committed that ‘crime’ (it was not really a crime, but I don’t know any more what it was called). Exactly at that moment a police officer came there to take the man with him, saying ‘he knew what for’, so he goes with the officer to the police man and their neighbor and the brother of the man see that. There’ a whole lot of stuff happening then, but eventually it turns out they just let the man go to the police office because they needed him as a witness in a case. A very typical misunderstanding, but it was really funny.
After class I went back home where I just did nothing special for a while and then went to the city centre for my private session. I got there in time, but Sasha did not turn up, so after fifteen minutes I texted Kasper if he had Sasha’s number, because I thought it was strange and I didn’t have her number. Apparently, my private session had been moved to tomorrow at nine o’clock, but Maria had forgotten to tell me. So, I did not have to be there.
As I would meet up with Vera later that evening I did not feel like going back home and then coming back ten minutes after I got home, so I just stayed in the centre and went to the place where Vera and I had agreed to meet up by foot, which was quite a walk. I stopped at the MacDonalds on the road to have something to eat. I sat there for a while and texted Vera to ask if we could meet half an hour earlier than we had agreed, which was no problem for her.
It’s so amazing how even though it’s only the second time we meet it’s so, how should I put it, familiar already. I guess it’s the three years of letter writing. But, it was great to see her again. We just walked through the city, but it was great, because we walked there where as a tourist you usually don’t go. Just the small streets, which are often just as beautiful as the bigger streets. We walked to the Smolnyj institute which is apparently a school where women were raised like princesses. It was such a beautiful building. I did not have my camera with me, which was a pity, but on the other hand it gives me a reason to go back there sometime. If not during this journey than during the next one. It was so quiet there, because it was evening already and the weather wasn’t that great, so it was almost as if you weren’t in a huge city anymore. It was great. And then we walked some more. I think we walked five or six kilometres this evening. And then we went for a drink in a café. It was just really great. I really hope I’ll be coming back to this city really soon, so we can meet again, because it was great.
Then I went back home. The good thing about the location of this obshegite is that it is at the last stop of the green line (which sounds as if it is really far away from the city, but actually it’s only two stops away by underground) and that means that when you go to the city centre you always have an empty train and so you always have a place to sit. When I go back home I don’t always have a place to sit, but most of the time you do too. So, that is just great.
Back home I made my homework which consisted of watching a documentary of fifteen minutes about Siberia, in Russian of course. It was not all that hard to understand and it was nice to watch, very interesting. Apparently there’s camels in Siberia. I was quite shocked to discover this. I did not know. But they were there. Camels, in the documentary, the documentary about Siberia. Interesting!
Let me mention you two more random things that I noticed today. The first one was when I took the bus to the underground. You know, the buses here are not really new. They sometimes look as if they will almost fall apart while driving, but hey, they drive well, so it doesn’t really matter. Today, I had one of those buses, but in that bus hung a flatscreen, very modern, on which commercials were broadcast. Everything is possible here.
And then when I was walking at Nevskij Prospekt I at once saw the guide we had in the lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo walking there. It’s so random because there’s so many people in that street, there’s so many people in this city and yet you still accidentally come across someone you do not know but have already seen. It’s quite funny. As I said: random.
So, my day tomorrow will be quite busy. I first have that private session with Sasha at nine. Then at one o’clock I have four hours of classes and at seven o’clock I have to be in the theatre of musical comedies for my favourite musical of all-times (not that I have seen that many musicals, I don’t like musical in general, I just happen to like this one): Bal Vampirov. I can hardly wait. Those three hours tomorrow night may last forever if it were up to me.
And then about the weather: It was as the Russians say ‘posmurno’ which I think is a good word for what it describes because there’s something in the sound of it that makes you understand what the weather is like without you even knowing what the word means. It means clouded and it has rained quite a lot as well. It was like rain, clouded, rain, clouded, rain, clouded. You know, kind of like the kind of rainy days we often have in Belgium as well.
And that’s it for today, 35 pages now!