HAVEN’T DONE THIS IN A WHILE.

Let’s just ignore the fact I’ve not written anything for 3 months and get right into it.

One of the reasons I haven’t written anything for a while is because I’ve been busy settling into Russia after I moved here in early September for the academic year.

“And how’s that going?” I hear you ask. Well I don’t hear you actually, because that’d be strange but you catch my drift.

Well, uh, let’s just say there’s been a few…”teething problems”.

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Despite problem, I am now become true Slav, da?

First of all, the original accommodation we were meant to stay in (the main building of Moscow state university) was full, so we were told, 2 days before we set off to Russia, that we would be in a separate university accommodation. That was fine. I could deal with that. A bit short notice but oh well.

However, when we arrived in the Motherland, we found out our accommodation had been changed. Again. And what was this new accommodation?

A bloody hotel. In the middle of pissing nowhere. Complete with terrible Soviet architecture and slightly very suspect clients. Who would get very pissed in the hotel bar whilst we were there and then have a tendency to ask how much the females of our group “cost”. Creepy Russian men were certainly not a positive of living in the hotel.

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This is the very hotel. If you show this picture to a Leeds Russian student, they will scream and run away.

Then the visas. My word, the visas. If you remember, my last post was a whinge about the bureaucracy required to get the initial visa required for Russia.

Then when we arrived, we would have to then acquire a multiple entry visa. The following interactions ensued with the university administration:

“Hey our visas expire on the 10th October and it’s already October, when do we get our new visas?”

“Oh don’t worry they’ll arrive soon enough.”

“Okay.”

 

“Yo it’s the 5th now and we still haven’t got our visas, are they nearly here?”

“Don’t worry about it, you’ll get them.”

“Fine.”

“Eventually.”

“What?”

 

“Um okay it’s the 9th now and our visas expire tomorrow, will we get them tomorrow?”

“Oh yeah probably.”

“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN PROBABLY?”

 

“Right it’s the 10th can we get our visas now?”

“Nope.”

“What!?”

“Don’t have ‘em”

“But you said..!”

“Weeeellllll…we lied.”

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A rare glimpes of one of the administrative staff at Moscow State University

So we lived as illegal immigrants in Russia for one day, and picked up our visas on the 11th. Which didn’t make me paranoid at all. Not one bit. Nope. Wait did you hear that? I think someone’s listening…

Another issue was moving out of the hotel. The novelty of living in a hotel room wore off after approximately 3 days so people started to look for flats to move into ASAP. However, because I am incredibly lazy, it took me and my two prospective flatmates a while to get started on a flat search and it was getting awfully close to having to pay for another month’s rent in the hotel (24 500руб – £300ish? Not sure about exchange rates). Finding a flat in Russia’s really fun. Reaaaaally fun. Lots of cancelled flat viewings, people managing to rent their flat out to someone else even though you only viewed it two hours ago, and general faffing around. Oh and also lots of talking on the phone, which is bad enough in English, let alone in Russian.

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Literally me. Except I’m not bald.

However, we managed it, and are now the proud tenants of a flat that is the definition of the term “Soviet chic”. Everything works though, so all good.

Now for my last whinge today. The deposit. An innocuous word for many people but for me and my coursemates here, it is the definition of bureaucratic hell.

So we had to pay a deposit when we arrived at the hotel, equivalent to one month’s rent. Then when we moved out the hotel, we were meant to get the deposit back. Y’know. Like how a deposit’s meant to work.

However, the hotel seem intent on keeping it. Some of us here have been trying to get it back for basically two months now, and they won’t budge. They just refuse, at the moment, to acknowledge how deposits are meant to work. But we’ve all filled out a form now so hopefully that will sort itself out soon.

And of course, said form was filled out in blue ink, in perfect handwriting, and with no spelling mistakes whatsoever. Because otherwise, according to Russian bureaucracy, if it doesn’t fulfil those criteria, it doesn’t exist.

This isn’t the most detailed list of my complaints, but I doubt anybody wants that, because a) it’d get boring and b) it’d be about 7000 words long.

Now looking at all these problems, you probably get the impression that I’m having a terrible time in Russia.

But that ain’t true.

I love the country, I love the culture, I love (most) of the people, I love the language, and I love Moscow. It is a truly fascinating place, and I am very glad to be here. Also, Moscow is probably the only place where you can go to a club and see someone propped up at the bar, vaping (unironically) and playing Pokemon on his DS, and also in the same club, a man coming in limping on a crutch and then, 10 minutes later, jumping around the dancefloor waving his crutch about like he’s trying to fight off a swarm of angry locust.

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“I love Moscow”. Это правда.

There are many more stories like that, and I’m sure there will be many more to come. I might write about them. Might not. Depends on whether I can be arsed. Big factor that. Arsedness.

Пока пока!

James

 

Thanks Harriet for the couple of photos I’ve nicked off your Facebook, your photography skills are much appreciated fam.

 

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