Vladimir, Suzdal, and GREs, oh my!





My apologies for the break in journal entries. So remembering back, the weekend after we were in St. Petersburg I took the math subject GRE. Thankfully, we got there in time and everything (knowing how to get there ahead of time really helped). Funnily enough, of all the students there, roughly a third or so were taking the physics GRE, 1 was taking the biochem one, and the rest were all taking the math test. The first time I took it, I was the only math student in the group. This was at UNO though, and the testing center I was at this time is only one of two in Moscow, so the group was definitely bigger than at UNO.

As I expected, the test was incredibly difficult for me. I’m hopiyang I scored better than the first time I took it, but results aren’t going to be released for a few more weeks (6 weeks from date of testing). I’m taking it again this month too, on October 25. Just trying to hedge my bets. These weeks have been stressful, with homework, GRE, and grad school applications looming over my head. I still have yet to start my apps. However, on the homework front, I’m doing relatively well in my classes. Topology looks like its taking a turn for the awesome, next week we start algebraic topology, WOOHOO!

This past weekend we went to Vladimir and Suzdal, which are two ancient towns a few hours outside of Moscow. They are located in what is called the Golden Ring, which is a ring surrounding Moscow of very old towns reknowned for their architecture and history. Old as in a thousand years old. Crazy old.

We left early Saturday morning and after four hours of first battling through Moscow traffic (who knew there’d be Saturday morning traffic?) and then driving down a forest lined freeway, we arrived in Vladimir. Our guide, Olga, took us to what used to be the city gate and into a museum that told of the attacks from the Tatar-Mongols. We saw a cool diorama and some old weapons. It was a pretty well put-together presentation. After that, we went to a museum that showed a bunch of crystal and glass. Apparently, the first crystal/glass factory in Russia opened not too far from Vladimir a couple hundred years ago. Before that, glass was super expensive since it was all imported from Europe. Recently, the glass factory almost went under, but somebody decided to finance it and now they only do special orders. This museum was only mildly interesting, but I did get a cool picture of a crystal bowl shining in the changing light.

While in Vladimir, we got to see many cathedrals/churches and a nunnery. After a long day of tours, we stayed in this pretty nice hotel in Suzdal. I don’t remember when I was in a place this nice. The next day was my favorite day of the trip. We started out the morning with an awesome breakfast provided by the hotel. Favorite food: blini with condensed milk. I could eat this everyday. Then we went to a locally owned pottery place and had a chance to try out making pottery on the pottery wheel. It is WAY harder than it looks. After like 5 attemps and many yells of “Nyet!” from the lady trying to help me, I finally had a little bowl, leaning slightly to the left and definitely off center, but it would have to do. This was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time. Later that day, we went to a monastery where we got to here these monks sing an old Church Slavonic song. The bass was amazing! Lots of great pictures from this trip.

But then it was back to reality. We got in the van for the 4 hour ride home and had to do homework on the way back. Since then, its been all business. Just homework, reading, and trying to keep up. Speaking of which, I need to get back to my Russian homework. Poka!