I'm here!

My trip was fairly devoid of adventures until the last leg of my flight. I spent the majority of it trying to politely avoid having my translation skills put to work translating a heated complaint from my neighbor about one of the stewardesses. It seems that there were some issues when it came to the segregation of business class and economy bathrooms, which resulted in my neighbor getting deeply offended.

Once we landed in Moscow (2 hours late!) the line to get through passport control was tremendous. I spent the next 45 minutes or so inching my way up to the counter, and luckily by the time I was finished my bags were already on the conveyor..and more importantly in Russia in general. After that I quickly found an ATM and spent about 15 minutes following signs for the aeroexpress train that takes you from the airport to the metro system. All of this went pretty smoothly and after 45 minutes I found myself let loose in the Moscow metro system with about 60 pounds of luggage. As I hauled my bag up and down stairs and kept a wary eye on my backpack I was reminded again how much I hate traveling with a lot of things. Aside from the crowds I found my way to the train station without incident. However, somehow I wound up in the basement of the train station and after asking directions from 2 different people (with completely opposite answers) I finally found my way up to the surface. I had a slight moment of panic when I noticed that it was already 3:50 and I was supposed to have met the lady from the Fulbright office who had bought my ticket for me at 3:30. This panic only heightened when I couldn't find her and I wasn't entirely sure what she looked like. After 10 minutes of running around the train station (which luckily isn't very big) I found her standing next to the train to Tolyatti. Let me remind you that it's now 4 and the train leaves at 4:10.

After a minute or two spent clearing my documents I staggered aboard the train in sweaty jubilation. I lugged my backpack and suitcase down the narrow aisle and greeted my coupe mate by misstepping and standing on his foot for more time than is really socially acceptable. I stowed all of my things and sat down to rest and think about my near miss. Soon the train started to move and it turned out that there were only going to be 2 of us in the 4 person coupe. After about 10 minutes of silence I figured that that was how the entire 18 hours was going to be. However, S (as I'll call him since I'm not really supposed to use names...more rules) turned out to be a fairly sociable man in his mid 30s and we talked for an hour or 2. He's a police man in Tolyatti and gave me his address and phone number with instructions to call him if for any reason I run into trouble. He also said that he and his wife would be happy to have me to dinner sometime and I promised to let him know about any English clubs.

Around 6 pm I couldn't stay awake any longer and I went to bed. I tried to add a picture of my train, but my internet wasn't too keen on that idea. After sleeping a solid 10 hours and waking up at 4 am I spent the next 3 hours sleeping fitfully and worrying about missing my stop. I didn't though.

When I got off the train I was met by my coordinator and her husband. I had to stand around for about 2 minutes though mildly wondering if I had a ride because I don't look like my passport picture. So far everyone that I've met has been super nice. L and L took me to a pizzeria and then immediately helped me get a new SIM card for my phone. After that we took a quick walk around the main part of town, and then I got dropped off at the dorm where I'll be staying for the next couple of weeks until we find a regular apartment. The room that I'm staying in is nicer than the regular rooms because it's mostly used like a hotel for visiting teachers. I have a living room, bedroom, bathroom, refrigerator, tea pot, iron, tv, and vacuum cleaner. If it had a kitchen it would be pretty tempting to just live here. The main problem is a lack of good electrical outlets. There's one really nice one that the refrigerator has taken over, and the others range from ok to scary. The one over my couch is kind of hanging out of the wall and I can see arcs of electricity whenever I plug things in...so I've decided that it's off limits.

I had all afternoon to myself, and I intended to spend it exploring the neighborhood, but instead I took a nap. Then I ate dinner with L & L and their son and 2 of their friends. Tomorrow I'm getting picked up at 2 to be taken on a tour of the town by 2 more people that I think work at the school. I start doing official things Monday. From what I understand the way it's going to work is that at first I'll just be helping lead segments of classes, and once I'm comfortable with that I'll be given my own classes. My first topic is appearance...more specifically attraction. That should be interesting!

It's really late.


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