News and Views

From my kids accomplishments, to my heretical perspective of the world

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News from Russia!

May 24th, 2008 · 5 Comments

I got an email from Derek. He wasn’t able to post to his blog yet, but I’ll put some excerpts here, edited to fit your screen and for grammar. (He was in a hurry with limited internet access.)

Hi Dad! Hi Mom!

I arrived here fine, my plane was a little late but it was okay.

On the first plane ride to Chicago, I overheard the people in the row in front of me asking the stewardess about how to get to the international terminal in Chicago because they had to go to St. Petersburg. So I mentioned I was going to Petersburg too, and we could go looking for it together. So her, her daughter and I went looking for it and found our gate etc. And I started talking to her daughter and it turned out she goes to Marcos. I thought wow what are the chances! And so when we were getting on the next flight to Warsaw, we looked at our seats and we were sitting next to each other. and was even more surprised when on the next plane from Warsaw to St. Pete, it turned out the three of us were together again. It was very eerie and weird, but nice to have someone that spoke English that was around my age to talk to.

Things definitely are different here. If it wasn’t for the nice people in my program, I would be very very homesick. The living conditions are awful by comparison to home, but not that bad for living. The shower is dirty and old, but there is hot water, and good pressure, so that is all I need. My roommate is from Philadelphia, and goes to a private college in Virginia. He was home-schooled. He is very nice, and I am lucky to have someone like him. He has made these past 24 hours much better. He hasn’t taken any Russian though, so I have to be our translator, as horrible as I am. People talk much much faster than I can mentally translate, so I have to always take a moment and figure out what they said, and then figure out how to say what I want to say, or just hope I get the general idea of what they say and nod my head.

When I got here, my roommate had not arrived yet, so I spent some time and got some food with someone that had taken the same van from the hotel to the airport as me (there were only us 2, since others weren’t getting in until later). I was depressed at first, because it is much worse than I had imagined, and I had romanticized it a lot. But after getting over the shock of how third world and dirty everything is (don’t drink the water!) I have started to enjoy things, and it is an adventure, from everything to ordering food, to not realizing I had gotten sparkling water until hours later when I opened it to brush my teeth.

Also, the driving is crazy here. As bad as China or worse. Pedestrians are an annoyance for drivers, and apparently no one has heard of a jaywalking law (there might not be any) so it’s just fend for yourself, unless you’re lucky enough to be near a crosswalk with a light.

We are on our own since yesterday (Saturday) since the time I got the hotel (about 16:45) until Monday at 16:15. So me and my roommate have just been going to the supermarket, and enjoying Russia.

I miss you guys, but I’m enjoying myself here. It is a wonderful experience. Please keep an eye on my bank account, because I have no clue how much money I’m withdrawing, since I withdraw in rubles, and don’t know the exchange rates or charges.

Sorry this is so unorganized. I have had so many thoughts and things to write about, that I’m just typing them as they come up.

I’m running out of time here (2 minutes left) so I should close this letter. I love you both very much! I am thankful that you let me take this trip, it is very un so far and quite an experience. Keep in touch through your blog, until I get a longer chance to get on the internet. I hope things at home are fine without me. How is apollo doing? I love you guys! Thank you!

Tags: Family Updates

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Daryl // May 24, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Message for Derek:
    Wonderful to hear from you. We tried to call the numbers you gave us, but always busy.

    You can use webmail on our server. Use

    The exchange rate is about 23.60.

    Apollo is fine. I took him out on a ride this morning; he ran well.

  • 2 Donna // May 25, 2008 at 7:27 am

    This brought back memories of my trip to Poland. The living conditions are so very different, and especially the carbonated water! That’s about all you can find bottled overseas. We had to look hard for regular water. I brushed my teeth or took a pill with soda water several times. ugh!

    Sounds like a wonderful and adventurous trip so far. Imagine the coincidence of running into a student from Marcos and traveling together all the way to St. Petersburg. Now that the initial culture shock is over, things should start to get much more exciting and comfortable.

    Looking forward to frequent updates.

  • 3 Mom // May 25, 2008 at 9:39 am

    When I was 19, I thought I was a long way from home when I was in training–50 miles! There was gas rationing, as there was a war, so I didn’t see my parents very often.

    Homesickness is one of the worst “diseases” anyone can have, but you know this trip isn’t going to last very long and you are supposed to have fun. Take lots of pictures, and write it down when it happens. Our memories can play tricks on us even at age 19.

    When you see how the rest of the world lives, you will appreciate the good old USA even more when you return.

  • 4 Dianna // May 25, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Wow! He writes like our niece talks!! I could feel the breakneck speed as he wrote.

    He’s already had so many adventures and he’s only been gone a couple of days. Can’t wait to read more!

  • 5 Heather // May 28, 2008 at 5:56 am

    How exciting! I have only dreamed of seeing Europe. I look forward to more interesting posts!

    Take good care of yourself Derek!