It's been 3 months since my last post. I would like to think that i've been busy but the truth of the matter is i was just too lazy to compose anything.
It's been more than a month since P and I moved to Novosibirsk, Russia. I'm sure you're wondering where the heck is Novo-what's-it's-name. Well, Novosibirsk is the 3rd largest city in Russia, next to St. Petersburg and Moscow. It is considered the business and cultural center of Siberia and is home to Akademgorodok - a unique university town founded during the cold war to become Russia's science mecca in the Sibierian region. Akademgorodok was designed to provide ideal living and working conditions for scientisits and so it was built in a forest area bordered by a botanical garden and the Ob Sea. While Akademgorodok is still the center of academic life in Novosibirsk, it is has also evolved to become the "Silicon Taiga" of Siberia what with the popularity of IT business in this area. With its ideal setup and beautiful surroundings, it has no doubt become the address of choice for the affluent Siberian. Fortunately for us, we live in this elite neighborhood.
Living here is not as difficult as i expected. Aside from the extremely cold weather, everything else is manageable. I spent the first week exploring the area and going through the isles in the grocery to see what was available. On our second week i had already familiarized myself with the place and the goods and was able to cook dinner every night since. I attend Russian language lessons 3 times a week and i also teach English in the same language school 4 times a week. Just this week i finally found the courage to ride the public bus and the marshrutka (shuttle) on my own...easy as pie :) I would still prefer to walk but since it's getting really cold riding public transport is the most practical choice.
Russian is one of the most difficult languages to learn (and understand). Adjectives change depending on the gender of the noun and the verbs change depending on the person/subject. The most useful phrases for me would be " Ya nye garvoryoo Pa-Ruski" (I can't speak Russian) and "Ya nye panyal" (I don't understand). I don't know if i will ever progress from simple tenses but knowing a little Russian is better than nothing.
Some notable observations about people and life in Russia:
a. They really drink a lot of alcohol.
b. When eating out, drinks would probably cost more that your food. One because beverages are expensive. Second because you will most likely be pressured to drink a lot of alcohol.
c. They dont salt the sidewalks here so it is more practical for moms to put their toddlers on sleds than on strollers.
d. Russian ladies snack on a lot of sweets and chocolates but they don't get fat.
e. Never go outside without your bonnet.
f. They still eat a lot of ice cream even in below zero temperature. You will find an ice cream kiosk in most major streets.
g. Tea is more popular than coffee.
h. It is common to see teens or adult men drinking beer while walking in the sidewalk.
i. I have never seen a policeman or any law enforcer since we came here.
j. Heating is centralized.
k. They don't bother to clean their cars anymore.
l. When it gets extremely cold, car engines are left running during the night so the gas won't freeze.
Will try to write more about life in Russia in my next entry. Pakka!