I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to post this, but since I am trapped on an airplane for 6 more hours, this is probably a good time to write all about what I’ve been doing lately. Since I don’t have internet I’m not sure where I last left off, but I’m certain that it was quite a while ago.

As perhaps you’ve guessed by the fact that I’m on a plane to Moscow (and ideally will be in Russia by the time that I post this), my visa came! The Russian Consulate in San Francisco is extremely efficient and I highly recommend them as well. From the date that I frantically sent off all of my paperwork (so frantically in fact that I left a section blank) to the date that I got my visa back only 8 business days had passed. Now, those 8 days were completely tortuous and I was just sure that I was going to have to change all of my plans and lose all of my money, but luckily none of my worst fears happened…yet. I won’t be in Tolyatti for another 30 hours or so, so there is still plenty of time for things to go wrong. That’s not an invitation though.

Things are starting to sink in a little that I’m actually on my way, but it seems like no matter what there’s always something more pressing to think about. For instance: will I be able to survive another 6 hours of just sitting? Walking already seems like a thing of the past. When an older Russian lady snuggled up to my back while I was waiting in line I did start to feel a little bit more like I’m in Russia though. Goodbye personal space! I’m also starting to get some of my fighting spirit back when it comes to waiting in line too. I may or may not have done some jostling when it came to getting on the plane.

Back to last week. After I got my visa back I basically just spent a day or two gazing lovingly at my visa and feeling intense relief. Around Thursday my parents started to realize how close I was getting to leaving, so I put off packing to do touristy things. Friday we went on a family date to the zoo, a movie, and Olive Garden. We hadn’t done anything like that for a while, and it was fun. Sort of made me feel like a little kid again.

Saturday I had to be serious and pack, and it sucked. It’s no secret that I despise packing. Someday it would be nice to stay in one place long enough to have all of my things handy and in one location, but knowing me that will never actually happen. The good news is that I’ve packed enough that my routine is pretty automated now. The Fulbright office has been kind enough to give me my own personal library of English teaching materials, and I’ve added about 10 books of my own, and I’m definitely looking forward to lugging all of these around the Moscow metro! The good news is that all of these get to stay in Russia, so that should free up roughly 1,000 pounds of space in my luggage.

Sunday passed by pretty quickly. I went to church, came home, packed some more, napped, packed, and went out to dinner. I’m not quite sure what happened to all the time between dinner and 1 am, but somehow it all disappeared, which left me very tired when I had to wake up at 3:45 am to go to the airport. What’s worse is that I couldn’t actually fall asleep right away either. I’m not sure what the cause of this insomnia was, but it was probably a combination of the fact that I hadn’t been to bed before 3 am in a week and I was pretty excited to go to Kansas and see Brian.

There’s a new rule that your visa has to be issued a minimum of 5 days before you can enter Russia, which left me with some days that I just needed to hang around the US. So, I spent 3 of these on a well deserved trip to Kansas. Monday from 12:30 am to 10:00 am Thursday went by in warp speed. Unfortunately, time has a way of doing that when you’re with people that you like. But, even though it was over way too quickly, it was definitely a worthwhile and very enjoyable trip. I recommend Kansas. They do have wolf spiders and brown recluses though, which is a minus. The same minus applies to Arizona.

This brings us to today. Since 10:30 am (approximately 12 hours ago) I’ve been doing absolutely nothing. I had short layovers between all of my flights, which worried me a bit, but there aren’t a whole lot of flights going to Russia. Luckily both of my connecting flights got to the airport about 30 minutes early. This greatly improved my opinion of United Airlines. Until of course my flight to Moscow got delayed 2 hours and they ran out of chicken. However, as long as we don’t get to Moscow too late for me to catch my train my experience will still be on the favorable side. My luggage also needs to make it there in a timely manner. I’m real particular about that.

Maps that chart the progress of your flight are the most depressing thing ever. So are people in front of you who put their seats back. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

Once I’m in Russia my schedule should look something like this:
1) Go through customs
2) Get baggage
3)Check to see if there’s time to use the free wifi that my neighbor says is in every Russian airport (He’s a pretty interesting guy. He says that America should be ashamed of itself for not providing enough food for us on the airplane. He was pretty heartbroken over the fact that he had to eat pasta instead of chicken too.)
4) Locate the airport express train that takes me to the metro system
5) Enter the metro and acquire a ticket
6) Somehow carry all of my stuff
7) Locate the correct train station
8) Meet Oksana, who will give me my tickets for the train
9) Remember how trains work
10) Ride 18 hours on the train…ideally spending about 12 of these sleeping
11) Find my contact in Tolyatti
12) Hope that there’s a place for me to sleep and internet

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Basically I’m going to be busy. This is my first time being mostly just let loose in Russia, and it’s a little intimidating. Generally there’s a group leader who takes care of all things travel and lodging related, or at least friends to consult with, but this time I’m going solo. I suppose it’s a good thing to know how to do though.

Weeeeellll…..that’s really about everything that I can think to write about. Airplanes aren’t very good at conjuring up inspiration for writing. I deeply envy everyone who can sleep on planes.


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Good news: no more required disclaimer!
Bad news: I'm really lazy about posting when I'm not in Russia