Update – last week of term.

Wow! Only 5 days left until I go home for Christmas! How the time has flown… ok so there were a few moments in the term where I felt like it was dragging out, but now that the end is here it feels like it went in the blink of an eye! And so much has happened in these last three months.

Going home is going to be good, but I’m not going to lie, I’ve been enjoying myself so much here recently that in a way I want to stay here a bit longer! So I may come back earlier than I originally intended in January, but it’s all up in the air and will be decided later.

I’ve bought most of my Christmas presents for people here, and I’m going to probably start packing on my last day here, Friday, because I won’t have any lessons. Then I’m going to go to English movie night one last time and say goodbye to people. I said goodbye to people at church too yesterday, mainly those from my house group.

I will miss them all!

But I need a break. I’ve worn myself out this week helping prepare for the party on Saturday, which, by the way, went so well!

I don’t have any really good pictures but here are the ones I do have. I and a friend had to roast some potatoes for the party, and we cut out so many snowflakes to hang up everywhere! Another friend baked millions of gingerbread cookies, and we played silly games like reenacting the Christmas story scene by scene in groups – we were all very creative; for the scene where An angel visits Mary, a guy stood on a chair and two guys stood behind him with a silvery white scarf and fluttered it like wings, and he then proceeded to get his phone out of his pocket and ring Mary to tell her about what was about to happen. You might have had to have been there to appreciate it, but I can assure you everyone was laughing at that point! We also sang the 12 days of Christmas song, which everyone found hilarious. We made a roast dinner for everyone to try (hence the roasted potatoes) and we even made sprouts for everyone and told them that they are traditionally eaten but also hated in England, but they all went so I think Russians like sprouts!

But hey, after all of that excitement, I had to sleep with a hoodie and a hat on last night to try and get my cold to go away – my window in my room lets in draughts so I end up getting quite cold in the night, and that combined with poor sleep and lots of extra activity just really tired me out. I need to make it through this week though because I have more tests! None of them actually count towards my degree but I want to do well to show that I’ve learned stuff and also so they’ll put me into a more advanced group next term. We don’t know if they’ll base that off our test results yet or if they’ll send us another aptitude test by email so it can’t hurt to get good marks.

I’m hoping to go to Ukrop (the chain of vegetarian restaurants) soon with a friend from my group to celebrate he end of term. She won’t be coming back to St P next year, she’s going to Germany for the other half of her year abroad, so sadly we’re going to be saying goodbye for good this Thursday. In fact, I’m the only one from my group returning to St P next year, so that’s going to be weird!

I’ve found housing for next term in a great location near all the shops I normally go to for food etc so I’m really happy about that, and the rent is cheaper so I’ll be saving some of my loan, which can be used for other things!

So yeah that’s me this week. I can’t wait to go home and have lots of hugs and catch up on the advent calendar and play my cello again! I just hope I can defeat this cold!!

In case I don’t post until the new year, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year everyone!

С рождество и с новом годом!

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First Week.

So, it’s been basically a full week since I first set foot in Russia for the first time. I’ve posted a lot this week; I wanted to make sure that all of my first impressions and experiences were out there for those thinking about studying Russian or visiting Russia, so I’m doing it for you guys!

My first week has had ups and downs. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt homesick. I have. I still do. I miss my family and friends, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to make it through 9 months of life here… but it has to be done and I know that I’ll get used to it here eventually.

Today, for example, instead of staying cooped up in my room studying, I took up an offer from a friend through my new church here (Hope Church) and went to a place called Petergof in the suburbs of St Petersburg. It’s kind of a little town on the outskirts, but we went to this massive palace with huge gardens – might be called a Dacha, but I’m not sure about that yet! I spoke Russian all day long! It was intense but worth it for my speaking skills, because when I got home, a simple conversation with my host about how my day had gone was so much easier!

To meet the people I was going with, I had to take the metro for the first time since getting here. Fortunately my practice on the metro in Madrid this summer came in handy and it was all fine and I got to where I needed to be half an hour early!! It was funny because you have to go right down underground for a really long time here, it’s a good 5 minutes on the escalators to reach the station at the bottom! People are reading books and listening to music on their phones and reading the newspaper on the escalator like it’s completely normal. Which I guess it is, for them. For me it was a new experience!

I was told before I came to just say yes to everything. Every opportunity to speak Russian and experience the culture or way of life. I mentioned this tip in my post about how to make the most out of learning a language abroad… So I guess that’s what I’m doing. I’m taking my own advice, and by keeping busy, it helps me not think too much about everything I feel I’m missing out on at home and how homesick I’m feeling! I might go on about this a bit for the first few weeks while I’m here, but I’m just being real so that others getting ready for their year abroad are aware that it’s normal to feel this way. I’m missing my aunts wedding to be here, and I was meant to be a bridesmaid. I won’t be in any of the photos… and I’m from a really big, close family, so you can imagine how that feels. I also spent my 21st running around trying to buy food and a sim card in a strange, new and HUGE city, in Russian. I’m not complaining, it’s just that it’s not ideal exactly!

What also really helps me is knowing that I’m never alone, because God is here with me. I can talk to him at any time and he is always listening, no matter what! I’m so glad I made it to Hope Church on Sunday last week because I’ve already got friends helping me out and trying to connect me up to other people who can help me and look after me a bit in these first few months. It’s good to feel like you have people who are rooting for you when you feel cut off from what is familiar to you.

Anyway, I’m super tired – mentally and physically – from all the walking and Russian speaking I’ve done this week, so I think I’m going to keep this post shorter than the others this time. This weekend I don’t have many plans other than going to church and going shopping again for some more food and things. I may go to the Hermitage (art museum) tomorrow with a friend but that’s not been decided yet.

Time to get some sleep and recuperate! See you soon! 😉

Term 1 Year 2 – God and other things :)

Life has got crazy pretty quickly down here in Exe.

This year, sadly, I haven’t joined any clubs. Not break dance, not gymnastics, no orchestras. I have my reasons… primarily, the cost. Gymnastics is £90 for the year, which, long term, works out pretty cheap, but as an upfront cost at the start of term, when you haven’t really had a good solid summer job to earn tonnes of money, is pretty steep. Likewise with the orchestras… the price is huge up front – but also, my course is pretty full on this year. I mean, it was full on last year, but this year its 13 lectures/classes and they are adding TWO MORE for Russian. Which is great – but not great at the same time because it means two more hours that I have to get to everyday. Plus my timetable is so spread out it’s unreal. I might have one lecture in the morning, then two hours, then another one, then one or even three hours, then another one. There isn’t enough space in the library and around campus all the time for students to study so I tend to go home. By bike its quick and not so bad – but Exeter is hilly. Really, really hilly. So some days I’m cycling to campus 3 times. I’m hungry all the time… and, like last year, I have a small budget for food. Add to that the fact that I’m now a Deliveroo rider (on my bike) and basically I am hungry ALL THE TIME.

So yeah I have a second job – casually mentioned that^ – but this means time for me is scarce. I’m still trying to go to CU every once in a while but it’s not likely to be regular. I’m prioritising church and going to my community group every week and church on Sunday… but apart from that I have to spend all my time doing my work and reading before my next module lecture. Such is life in your second year. I was comparing hours/work with a friend of mine doing medicine the other day and we have the same amount of hours and work each week. I’m effectively doing the equivalent of a medicine degree but in languages. This is when learning Russian really bites you in the bum. Like, why Russian???

It means that I might find it harder to meet up with friends and things around all of my various commitments. Oh and I’ve signed up to do peer mentoring and I’m helping a friend with a Spanish module she’s taking on the side of her degree….. The list goes on!!

Basically, it’s so good that I’ve got God with me. Because if I didn’t have God on my side, I think I would be having multiple melt downs right now.

I’m learning not to worry. I’m learning that sometimes you have to say no. Even though people always want a piece of me and are inviting me to socials and training etc. I have to accept the fact that my degree and my sanity need to come first. I mean it’s flattering that people want me around, but this IS what I’m here for after all. (And why I’m so in debt!) It was interesting because I found an article (it’s on my wall on Facebook) about why uni at the moment is one of the most unhealthy places to get your degree – so many people are suffering from mental illnesses and have this warped mentality that uni is meant to be the best years of your life and if you aren’t enjoying it an  going out to all of these events etc. then you aren’t doing it right. It’s not true. Honestly.

Last year I was definitely a victim to this mentality surrounding uni and the moving away from all that is familiar thing. I thought I would be fine and that uni would be the best 4 years of my life. Then, slowly I realised that some of my flatmates were really difficult people to live with and be around, and actually that I was spreading myself too thin and this was stressing me out making my IBS flare up – so I was getting ill. I’m so glad that I’ve come out on the other side stronger for it and ready to tackle the year ahead with a smile on my face. I feel so free now that my eating disorder is gone and I’ve stopped believing a whole load of lies about myself that I’d been carrying for years. It’s amazing what happens when you start seeing things positively and speak blessings over yourself and not curses. All the rubbish falls away and you’re just left with happiness… sometimes I think I’m so happy now that people around me can’t handle it. Wow.

You will definitely grow at uni – There’s  no other option. Either you grow and make it through, or you don’t and you drop out. Probably because you weren’t ready to change. You have to be ready to adapt to this lifestyle. Some people are lucky and they pick a course which has 4 lectures a week but most people either don’t do enough work or kill themselves going after that 1st (as in the grade). You have to find balance. It’s this word which floats around and no one really knows what it means or how to get there – but that’s because it takes practice And practice is a day-by-day thing. A teacher of mine always used to say that practice makes progress, not perfect. I believe her. I will never be perfect. But I’m definitely further along in my progress towards a good k-life balance than I was before because of all of this time management I’ve had to do to keep organised and on top of things. Actually, I prefer the phrase keeping afloat. Sometimes it feels like you’re swimming in deadlines and work and only just keeping above water enough to breathe.

This is where God comes in – I try and have a little bit of quiet time to read my Word For You Today (UCB) and a bit of the Bible or listen to a good podcast (I have some Bethel ones) and this really helps ground me. A lot of people on social media are talking about meditation and its benefits for grounding you and helping you live stress free. So I guess this is my ‘meditation’, if you will. Talking to my best friend and looking at life from His perspective and trying to be more like Him. Trying to show love and kindness. Trying to be available for people even when you have so little time and it feels like too much.

It’s all good.

 

Anyways, that’s update for those interested 🙂

Red flowers Mum got me for my new room ❤

Bog roll

Yes be prepared to get through tonnes of it with your flat mates. 

 

Caption in the F3 chat: “I bringeth bog roll”. #F3banter

 
We’ve probably used half the Amazon rainforests’ worth of it in the last 12 weeks. It’s not helped by the fact that we hold so many parties in our flat – this means more people drinking, and then needing the toilet. It’s inevitable.

But hey buying more of it is a way of blessing people I guess! 

It’s almost the end of the week now, which means I’m almost home. The flash mob is tomorrow and I’m gonna go and rehearse with my b-girl Linh at 4 hopefully. So tired – but it was worth making it to my 8:30am lecture today – only two of us (me and Emily, plus Katherine, our teacher) have been to every single 8:30 this term! Record! 

I’m looking forward to the break (let’s pretend for a second I don’t have exams and there will be no revision – humour me!). 

But first things first…. I need to get my Spanish comprehension in ASAP! 

Looking back

I’m amazed that 9 weeks ago I had my first ever Russian lesson… And now look what I can say!

Я живу в эксетере – I live in exeter

Я студентка – I am a student

Я люблю русский язык – I love Russian

And a few other useful things, such as

Слон на крыше – the elephant is on the roof

Ёж в улицу – the hedgehog is in the street

Now we’re learning numbers and the Genitive case… it’s complicated. Especially the Genitive plural. Not even going to try and explain it! There are about a million different endings which I just cannot seem to remember! The genitive case deals with quantities of things. It’s like saying ‘one cow’ (nominative singular) then ‘two of cow’ (genitive singular), then you get to five and you have ‘five of cows’ – this is how we learned it in the lesson. Our teacher is ace. Our new favorite word is cow, which has replaced elephant (слон – “slon” – hence ‘the elephant is on the roof’^).

It’s almost Christmas already – I need the think about presents! No idea what to get my family now I’m a poor student!! Although I saw some awesome sales in town and in the student shop recently on site… I’ve got a few ideas cooking up.

I’m getting ready for my first gymnastics competition in Bath next weekend (5th December). A friend is letting me borrow her leotard. I’ve not worn one of those since I was 6!!! I am excited though! I’ve been practicing a lot so hopefully it’ll go well. I’ll be in the novice bit. A friend is competing on a higher level. My coach says I’ll be fine. At least he believes in me!!

Down here in Exeter it’s getting really cold. Before it was like spring… then overnight it just got all cold and windy – bitter wind. But in gales it was so strong! I was walking to orchestra with my cello and I kept getting blown about in the gusts.

oooh oooh exciting news!! I have an interview at the Ram pub – its this on-site pub for students in the forum – which is basically the centre of all activities. Hopefully this means I can hand my notice in at my job at the hotel – which has been proving a bit hard to handle on top of my studies.

I’ve been looking at getting another meat box like I did a few months back – when I get paid I want one!! But I’m not sure there’s enough room in the freezer for it. The lads in my flat are into weight lifting etc and they have so much meat and frozen stuff that there’s literally no room left. I manage to keep some cod fillets and frozen packets of blueberries and raspberries in there but not much else unfortunately. I might have to wait until after Christmas when they haven’t had a chance to re-order… that will be my moment to strike! So it’s fish and beans and peas for me for now!

I’ve been really tired out by work and working for the hotel… Getting home really late over the weekend means on Monday mornings I have to drag myself out of bed for the lectures I used to enjoy 😦 It’s not ideal really.

I am tempted to go out tomorrow night with the girls in my flat – they’ve invited me out and I feel like I need to humor them and go at least once! I’ve been bad at it really… It’s not my idea of a fun night but hey I think it will mean a lot to them if I were to go.

Bueno… hasta luego 🙂

 

Being Charis… And some Russian

Before I begin I want to give a little shout-out to my wonderful Dad – it’s his birthday today and I’m so sad not to be there right now ‘cos I’m sure I’d have given him a massive hug 🙂 

Resuming……

I’m a little eccentric. I think eccentric is the word? Ok – maybe quirky. That sounds about right! For example – I cycled the whole way to Aldi yesterday for a pumpkin. Yes. And then when I brought it into the kitchen and my flat mates saw it, they were like, “how are you going to carve it?” To which I replied, “carve it? No way I’m gonna make pumpkin purée out of it.” So there I was roasting this massive pumpkin. 

 

My autumn squash collection accumulating on top of my printer in my bedroom 😉

  

Pumpkin Pancakes – using only 3 ingredients!

 
But hey, after I puréed it – there was a little left over which wouldn’t fit the jars I have so I made pumpkin pancakes!! They turned out really well and tasted great, if a tiny bit bland… Working on flavour! I’ll make them again and post the ingredients etc in another post some time 🙂 
So… Life. It’s still happening I can tell you! Break dance is good, gymnastics is good. Russian is great. I’m finding my Spanish oral lessons a little too easy :/ this means I get quite bored in lessons…. The grammar and translation classes are good though. They challenge me a little more. If there’s no challenge it isn’t fun you see. But that’s just me for you. That’s mainly why I picked Russian. For the challenge. I can say a few things in Russian now:

Я говорю по-русски – I speak/am speaking in Russian.

Они говорит, что Марина живём в Лондоне – they say that Marina lives in London.

Но я знаю, что она живёт в Париже – But I know that she lives in Paris.

Слон на крыше – the elephant is on the roof (always useful!)

Banging out some prepositional case there 😉 basically, the reason Russian is so hard isn’t because of its alphabet. Yes, you have to learn that, but it’s the cases that get you. There are six. 

The Nominative Case

The Accusative Case

The Genitive Case

The Dative Case

The Instrumental Case

And the good old Prepositional Case. 

Personally I like the prepositional – it seems straight-forward enough. Very basically, if you have a в (“vuh” – meaning “in”) or a на (“nah”-meaning “on” (as in, on top of something)) you add an -e (“yeh”) on the end of nouns ending in a consonant. If the noun ends in -а, -й or -о, you take off the last letter and add -е.

It’s only if the noun ends in -я (“yah”) or -е (“yeh”) that you add an “и” (“ee”). 

I won’t explain what happens with the nouns ending in soft sign, but it’s seems kinda simple to me. Fancy learning now? (Bear with me – it’s good revision to try and explain it to someone else!)

I added a whole list of vocab to this amazing app called quizlet which lets you test yourself on vocab etc except predictive must have changed it up because some of my words went in wrong and it didn’t save as editable by my Russian class so they were all trying to figure out who Chorizo12 was on quizlet to try and sort it out! I didn’t admit it was me because I didn’t want the arrogant lad in my class to be annoying about it ( he later added a correct vocab list and called it “vocab list without the mistakes of chorizo12”). I admitted it to my teacher alone after class and she laughed but applauded me for putting so much time into making the list. Oops. 

Not going to lie…. I’m getting quite tired now. I’ve not been sleeping very well this week – not since a small incident with one of my flat mates. (Please forgive me not wanting to divulge too much!) it’s been dealt with but I still feel slight tension and it’s tough. In first year, you get who you get in your flat. There isn’t an easy way to change.

Last night I went to this place called Wagamamas with some of my break dance crew – I couldn’t really afford to buy much so I went for a smoothie (it was called raw and it had carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, apple, and orange and it was pretty good!). My friend Mia had beef ramen and my friend Hannah had dumplings. Matt had pad Thai and I don’t know what Jonny had but it looked good. I am getting better at going out with friends. We chatted and had a laugh. It was ace 🙂 before back home i was really bad at this.

This morning, though, my flat mate Josh said he walked by us break dancing in the forum last night on the way to a meeting and he saw me break dance in the cypher. (When you aren’t battling one-on-one and you’re breaking in the circle with friends it’s called a cypher). Awks – although at the same time I’m kinda boosted by it. He said I looked good! Feeling more confident now and it’s kind of a good thing I didn’t see him seeing me – if you get me. Otherwise I’d have messed up big time from the nerves 😛

But today is a rest day – I’ve strained something in my thigh from gymnastics on Monday so I’m not doing more training although I really want to. 

I’m going to my first community group today – it’s basically a Life Transformation Group or Development Group. I’ve been put in the Wednesday one for Grace Church and I’m going to try it out. My friend Josie goes so that’s a definite plus – at least I’ll actually know someone! 

So yeah… That’s it really. Oh no wait – I have another job interview at a place called the Magdalen Chapter Hotel AND they are going to let me have a stall at the Student Traders Christmas Fair for my business!! So excited 🙂 

But yeah now that is everything! I’ll be posting some more recipes soon! I can even post the pumpkin purée one 🙂 Aldi sells ’em cheap so it’s a good time of year to try it. 

Mid-Week Update!

Yay halfway through Week 3 and I’m surviving 🙂 (Mostly anyway!) Good times.

I’ve been posting a few more recipes lately as I just haven’t had time to sit down and write an actual update. Which is fine. Technically my studies should come first. But I like writing… so… well… meh. (Which loosely translates as, I don’t care!)

Today has been rather eventful. I had lectures in Russian, both of which were a lot more challenging now that we are tackling verbs. And there are two types, but within these types there is a type 1A and a type 1B and a type 2A and a type 2B. Complicated, basically. I’m told when we get to something called “cases”, we’ll genuinely feel like committing suicide. Joy. (No worries, I have too much to live for 😉 ).

Other than that, we can now string together basic sentences. Which is cool right? Considering most of us literally started 2 weeks ago. I’m amazed if you aren’t.

Still haven’t managed to find a job. Oh yeah, I didn’t get the job at Coffee #1 – but it’s OK I’m still looking, I’ve applied to a bunch of other places and I’m waiting to hear.

I then met up with a lovely girl called Emily who is one of my Hall Group leaders (from the CU). She lived in Lafrowda before. It was nice to chat to someone – you know, really chat. The thing I’ve found over the last few weeks is that with most people, your conversation will be like this:

‘Hey.’

‘Hey.’

‘You ok?’

‘Yeah, you?’

‘Yeah, I’m good thanks.’

*The End*

And if you’re lucky, or have a bit more time, they’ll ask you for the bazillionth time what you’re studying, because obviously they can’t remember, they’ve met that many people over the last 3 weeks. But when you talk to a Christian, you have a genuine conversation which isn’t so superficial. Sure, I’ll probably progress with the flatmates eventually, I mean, I have to live with these people for a year. But right now, I just feel like the more solid friendships I’ve made have been with Christians. You just relax more and are able to talk about more. It’s hard to describe unless you know what I’m on about and have experienced it.

I met my form tutor – Gert. He’s actually really nice (although his stutter can be frustrating as I badly want to finish his sentences for him – it’s almost painful!). He sympathized with the whole wanting-to-actually-sleep at the weekend/party flat situation. He said that if all else fails, I can talk to him and he’ll do something about it. I’d like to see him try and turn the party down on a Saturday night at 12am. It would be funny to watch.

I’ve discovered I have even more work than I thought I did. So I need to crack on tomorrow – I have a big wedge of an afternoon so hopefully I’ll get my act together 😉

But for now…. bed. Student’s favorite place. (Other than the pub/club). Later folks 🙂