Monday, December 30, 2013

Home Sweet Home

People say that it takes a village to raise a child. I would argue for an expat, making a house (or an apartment) a home also takes a village. A little over two weeks ago, my flatmate and I moved into our new apartment. We were looking for more independence than living with a host family had afforded us.

My new apartment is in a district outside of the city center. It’s a spacious (2-bedroom, balcony, kitchen, and full bath+ washer) first-floor apartment close to the bus stop. As soon as we paid the retailer (9,000 rubles—highway robbery) and the owner left, the benefits ended.

In the midst of grading final exams we moved-in. We found ourselves with a mold-ridden bathroom, a seat-less toilet, a leaky faucet, see-through curtains, and furniture infested with fleas and bed bugs. Our freedom had turned into an arduous challenge.

Over break I have made it my mission to make the apartment livable. Many people have helped us clean the apartment. Others have donated accessories and information about where to find cleaning supplies. Honestly, I have never been more excited in my life to receive a new pillow and blankets for Christmas/New Year’s presents.

So now, after the extermination of the bugs, I can finally make a cocoon in my bed and relax for the rest of winter break. 

Pictures of us hanging up curtains that are not see-through.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sled Babies

As many people know, I love baby and toddler accessories from Northern Europe. This year, I have not been disappointed. During my time in Estonia, Finland, and Bishkek (Fine, it’s not Northern Europe, but it still gets snow and ice.), I have never seen anything as functional and adorable as these winter sleds/strollers for children. In general, I have observed that parks are usually full of families taking a stroll with the newborn during spring, summer, and fall, but these sleds provide a wonderful option for winter. Of course, there are many styles depending on the child’s height and weight, but the main components include runners with wheels attached to the back (for non-snowy areas), a seating place, and a handle. Here are some of my latest creeper shots from my romps around Dobroe: 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Beginnings of Winter in Vladimir, Russia

     After completing my internship in Bishkek, I moved to Vladimir, a small historical city in Russia, to work for a company called The American Home. As you can see, the building actually looks like an American home. 
     Our fall semester is quickly coming to an end. In general, this means piles of journals and quizzes to grade, but it also means snow has come for good. As one who has lived in the South for half of her life, the first day of snow was exciting and terrifying. Usually, two fallen snowflakes in North Carolina bring about school delays, bank closures, and a massive rush to buy all of the bread and milk in the grocery stores. Luckily, I am not the only teacher from the South. We all comiserated the day we looked out the window, saw three inches of snow, and gasped as the trolley buses were still working. 
      Now that we have become accustomed to the snow, I've begun to notice that there are vast differences in snowfalls. In North Carolina, we just have the big, slow, falling flakes that encourage you to grab an oversized sweater and some hot chocolate. But in Russia,during the “warm” winter nights, you can sometimes see glittery snow. It’s the kind of snow you would see in old 1940s or 1950s Hollywood films (but probably in those cases it was actual glitter). It’s the kind that is perfect for a jaunt around your Soviet apartment block.