Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Sights of Rostov...

I spent most of the day with three of my future students, Kristina, Dacha, and Juliana. I meet them my first day in Rostov and we had planned that they would show me around Rostov today. As planned they arrived at my room at noon, and we set off for a day of sight seeing. All three of the girls are very attractive, intelligent, and caring individuals. It was a lot of fun getting to know them throughout the day, and also having them as my tour guides –I couldn’t have asked for better ones.

Our first stop was the river Don itself, which I had only seen when I flew into Rostov. The Don is massive; I myself have never seen a river so big. I’m used to rivers that are only a couple dozen feet wide. The kind if you really want to you can throw a stone across it and the stone would land on the other bank, but I don’t think anyone could do that on the Don. After a few moments of looking at the river from the dock, we decided that we would take a ferry ride up the Don. Here are some pictures of what I saw from the ferry, while it traveled down the Don.

As anyone can tell it is just a very beautiful era, and I feel very lucky to be living in such a place. The ferry ride gave me and the three girls ample time to talk about everything from Russian music to Russian cuisine. They were very happy to hear that I enjoy Japanese food, because they were hoping that we could grab some sushi for launch. Strolling along the Don, we found that we share some of the same interest in education, entertainment, and also how to spend downtime. All three girls are majoring in Russia’s political system, and I myself have thought about entering that arena when I return home. They were very interested in hearing about our political system, and I tried my best to explain it to them –I did however go off on a few political rants, but I apologized and tried to watch out for those. They would all just smile at me and say it was fine, but I felt bad and tried to watch my rants. It was a very pleasant ride up and down the Don, and we only had to pull out a dictionary once –it was when they where trying to describe what a building was supposed to be designed like. It’s this large white building that is suppose to resemble an ear of corn or a strand of wheat, but the translation from Russia to English is the word “spike” and I could not think of what the hell it was suppose to be; however, after some talking around each other, we were able to successfully get the point across.
When the boat ride was coming to an end, the girls asked if I wanted to eat sushi or a traditional Russian meal. I at first said the Russian meal but they wanted sushi more, so I agreed because I wanted sushi more too. So Juliana, who is the only one that has a car –we discussed the rules of driving and what it takes to be able to drive; let’s just say Americans have it a lot easier when it comes to driving, but we also drive a lot more carefully then the Russians do –drove us to a sushi bar called “Osaka.” For my own health, I chose just to have some vegetable rolls, which they call California rolls too, which were quite delicious. Now I know I was told not to eat vegetables unless I pilled them myself, but seriously the water as long as you don’t drink it constantly is fine. Everyone here drinks bottled water and I have a large supply in my room, but the tap water is okay in moderation. During lunch, the girls were interested in what sort of movies I like, as I was in what sort they like. It was nice because we had a conversation about the film Kill Bill, and we agreed that the first one was better than the second; even though, we all like the second one too.

When we all finished our sushi, the girls wanted to take me to a park –one of the newer ones –so we did. The park, you could tell, was rather new, since the landscaping wasn’t even finished. I was a little surprised because most of the time in the States the last thing to go up is the playground, but here the playground was up and full of children. The unfinished park was quite something special and in my opinion shows the culture of Russia. In America, we would never open a park until it was “finished,” but here as long as it’s enjoyable and people can find use out of it, they will open it. On the way to the park, the girls asked me my opinion of Russia and Rostov so far. I had to tell them that it is completely different from America, but in a good way. So far, I love the city and the country –the people couldn’t be nicer. Everyone has treated me so well, and the vibe here is wonderful. One think I spoke to them about was the fact that in Russia their traditions are set in place, but that is not the case in America. I think due to America’s large cultural difference its hard for the country to have traditions of its own, because each culture observes their own traditions but not many traditions have been set up as “American.” Yes, we have a few –the Fourth of July, baseball, being fat; whatever you want to call it –but we don’t have traditions like the Russians do. For instance, in Russia when you are walking with someone it is a bad sign if you go around something on opposite sides, because it means that you will be corralling. We have no such thing in America; if you do something like that in America you are just trying to get around the object. I also had to tell the girls that it seems so much more relaxed here. Everyone seems to enjoy their time and not worry so much about random little things, like Americans do. I guess to sum up my point here, I would just have to say that Russia seems solidified in its ways, and America doesn’t. In America, we are still trying to find out who were are and what we believe in that it’s hard to function and feel the way the Russians do.

The last thing the girls wanted to show me, besides the supermarket because James must eat a lot according to everyone over here, was what they consider to be the best view of Rostov. They took me up to this cliff that over looks the city and is the sight of a very big statue. Now I don’t remember the correct name of the statue, but the girls told me that locally it is called “The Statue of Two Drunk Men,” by the younger crowd. The view of the city was phenomenal; I’ve never seen a city view so good before. Spending just a little time up there, we went back into the city, so that they could show me the supermarket. I did need some things, but it wasn’t urgent that I went; yet, following their lead I did. They kept trying to get me more then I needed, because it seems that everyone is worried about me here…which I don’t need them to be, because I can handle food on my own. I actually prefer going to the supermarket and buying what I need instead of eating in the Cantina here, simply because I can get and eat what I want. Juliana, Kristina, and Dacha then walked me around the main center of Rostov for awhile, where I caved in and bought some CDs, which are really, and I mean really, cheap here. I’ll probably go broke from the CD shops alone. Around 6pm, I could tell the girls were getting board with me, but they would never admit to it, plus they had things to do, so we parted ways. I was glad to rest for awhile, but I had an amazing time with them, and if all my students are this good I’m going to have an amazing year with them.


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