I arrived in Moscow yesterday in the late afternoon after three uneventful flights. I love Lufthansa airlines, you get to eat with real silverware and they pass out hot towelettes! It’s the little things that count. The flights themselves were fine, I just couldn’t sleep at all. So my first day here was not the most pleasant just because I was extremely tired. After making it through Passport Control and Customs, I was met by Shura and driven to the dorms. She is a nice, friendly musician that plays Baroque cello. She and Lena (her mom I think) drove me to the dorms, where Shura introduced me to Anya, another Russian student that helps MiM students. The two of them gave me a quick tour, gave me my key and ID card for getting in to the dorms, and then I was left to get moved in and situated.
Ideally, I was going to take a quick shower and go pass out for as long as possible, but sleep eluded me that evening. So instead, I gave up trying to nap, met my roommate (Chris from Alabama), and decided to go with two other MiM students for a tour of the neighborhood given by two Russian students (Natasha and Natasha). They showed us the metro station, the nearest supermarket, and a pharmacy. The supermarket is called Magnolia, which is where I bought oatmeal and tea.
After our little tour, I came back for Round 2 of the battle against exhaustion. I lost again. Didn’t fall asleep until 4am, then woke up at 10. Definitely better than nothing, but I think it will take me a few more days until I feel like myself again. The next day, Shura showed me around the neighborhood also, but going in a different direction (and this time during the day, so it was easier to remember directions). Found where the ATM is, the bank, a pharmacy that supposedly understands English, and a farmer’s market! Shura had to leave because she had to teach a music lesson, but I went with Ryan (a fellow MiM student) back to the farmer’s market and Magnolia. We bought some decent apples from the market and I got some more food from Magnolia: butter, eggs, bread, sugar, yogurt*, and some frozen dumpling looking things.
*A note about the yogurt. It is more like a drink than yogurt is back in the US.
Monday and Tuesday were fairly uneventful apart from two things. First, Ryan and I went to check out where the Independent University of Moscow (IUM) is and to eat at the My-My Cafe. IUM is situated in this nice neighborhood near Arbat street, which is a famous old pedestrian only street. My-My Cafe (pronounced “moo-moo”), is a Russian restaurant which is kind of like a buffet. You take a tray and go through the line, telling the employees behind the counter which dishes you would like. At the cashier, you only pay for what you pick. The food was very good, the best meal we had eaten since arriving. Also, apparently cold soup is a pretty regular thing here in Russia. I had no clue.
Second, we went to the big grocery store called Ashan. This was my first time taking the subway (ever), which was very cool; it is so much more convenient than taking the bus. The store was very big and crowded, more crowded than I have ever seen a grocery store except maybe on Thanksgiving. And this was on a weekday during the daytime. My favorite aisle in that whole place is this frozen food aisle, where there are big bins filled with pelmeni! They are dirt cheap and delicious with sour cream. I think in the past 2-3 days, I have eaten half a kilo of pelmeni.
We have the official start of the program tomorrow, a “placement” test on Friday, then classes start Monday the 8th. I’m very excited for all the cool math classes I get to take this semester. Until next week, poka!