sidebar-- Ha, I haven't even started, and here's a sidebar. I'm in limbo about the use of the word "pants". Whenever I go to use it, I cringe. I've travelled with enough brits now to picture underwear when I hear/use the word pants. But I can't bring myself to use the word "trousers"
Anyway, I'm in Russia.
Sidebar 2--I'm ever aware of my shoes. I'm in a place where everyone is wearing black shoes. Most women I see in fancy black boots with heels and men in black european leathers. I have my North Face hiking boots. Tan and orange. Its a point of annoyance that I must remedy.
Lets go back to my arrival. I arrived in Russia via the Moscow airport. Went through immigration and flew to St. Petersburg. Landing at both airportw was the same experience. Snow everywhere, barely brushed off the tarmac. You disembark the plane. On one side-airport. The other side--a forest of thin white birch trees. The largest, no more than 3 inches in diameter. Its an eerie feeling arriving in a capital city- the capital of the largest country in the world- and you feel like you've landed in the quaintest village. Everything is quiet; grey. You know that somewhere out there is a city, but at this moment, its hard to believe.
On my school:
The Center for Russian Language and Culture is housed in the Smolny Institute. I imagine, had I gone to Moscow, I would be studying in a Soviet style, 14 floor building, with a rickety lift that only worked sometimes. This institute is so far from that. Walking up to the group of buildings, I feel honored that I'm allowed to study within them. Each building is a blue that is hard to describe. I hesitate to say electric blue, but at the moment, that is what comes to mind. The architectural components of the building contrast in white. There are even onion domes, a structural aspect I imagned to be reserved only for churches and regal buildings.
Inside the building in which I study there is a tiny cafeteria, offering a small variety of things. The smell of hot Russian meals pervades the first floor. The second and third floors smell of bee's wax. A warm comforting sort of smell. Perhaps wax is used as a sort of protectorant for the old building. After your nose becomes accostomed to the smell of bee's wax and honey, the smells from the kitchen waft back through.
When you first walk into Entrance 7 of this Un-Soviet Soviet building, there is a coat check. And next to the coat check is a mirror- perhaps 7ft by 4ft. The purpose of this mirror is solely for "fixing" yourself. You turn in your coat and your hat and then you make sure you are as pretty as you were when you left. Walking the 100 feet to the bathroom mirror would be absurd. Ten people, could see you before you get there. Its funny to watch. As I don't really have a coat, I carry my sweater and wind-breaker to class.
On sidewalk conditions:
Outside the buildings; ice. Snow, ice, puddles, more ice. It is treacherous to leave the building. The wind alone could kill you. You take your life in your hands leaving the warm confines of the classrooms. I have a tendency to walk with my hands in my pants/trouser pockets. If you slip, certain death, or at least certain humiliation. I'm trying to train myself to keep my hands in my jacket pockets. They're looser, and I look less like Bob Dylan...