Friday, October 3, 2008

Drinking through a firehose

My first class was on Wednesday. They put me in a nice group of beginning students who generally didn't even know the Cyrillic alphabet. I like the teacher and enjoyed the other students, but felt that this was not the best use of my one month at the University. So I went to the registrar and asked to be bumped up to the next class. She warned me that the next group was already two months into the program and that I'd be a little over my head. We agreed, however, that it could make sense given that I already intend to have a private tutor.

Well, yesterday was quite a change. I was pretty overwhelmed for the whole class and felt at the end something like I would have felt if I'd been on a hard bike ride for the same amount of time. In other words, I enjoyed it. I don't think I've been so intellectually focused in rather a long time, and I'm really glad to have this experience.

Yesterday's other big news was that I moved into the dormitory and Alla left for Moscow. For reasons unrelated to me, the Brazilian guy is gone and they put me into the double room with Paolo, the Italian guy they first promised me. Paolo wasn't there when we brought over my stuff, so I put it away and went to buy necessities like my own toilet paper and some notebooks.

I didn't want to arrive at the dorm really late because I didn't know when Paolo went to bed, but I did want to take Alla to the train station for her 10:00 (aka 22:00) train to Moscow, so I dropped her off early and got back to the dorm at 10:00. Paolo was already in bed. Oops. I tiptoed around, but it didn't really matter because the floor is so creaky. Paolo at least pretended to be undisturbed, so I made my bed and got in with my booklight and read until my own lights-out time at 11:00.

I was up before 6:30 and started to worry about Paolo when he was still asleep at 7:30. Finally he roused and told me that he isn't used to drinking but he went out with some of the other students last night and got a little under the weather. He woke up perfectly perky, however, and proceeded to tell me zillions of stories in Russian and occasionally a little English. I barely made it to class on time after I got distracted by all this. Paolo apparently doesn't have any morning classes. My only gripe about him as a roommate is that he snores sometimes.

In other news, somebody from another department tracked me down and asked me if I would lead a weekly English-language discussion group. Sounds like fun.

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