Introductory Post/Two Weeks Until Takeoff

Full disclosure: I hate blogging. I’m bad at it. I consider this to be a lifelong issue for me (the literate part of my life, at least). Example: my childhood bookcase shelves at least three fancy leather-bound journals, purchased in different phases of my adolescence, each containing 1-3 entries followed by 100 or so blank pages.

I hope this blog is different. I’m writing it for you (my friends, family, teachers, colleagues, students, and beloved internet randos) so that you know what’s up with me during these ten months that I am living in Russia. But I’m also writing it for me, so that I have a record of my memories that won’t be abstracted by time. I wish, for example, that I had actually followed through on the blog I started during my semester in Moscow during college. That would be cool to have now. I also see this blog as a challenge to me to be a more active observer and participant during my grant period; it will hold me accountable to being present so that I can report back to you in full. The content here will be mostly personal, but I have aspirations to write more topically (i.e. about more broadly political/social issues) once I get my footing.

But now I should bring you up to date: after a long summer chilling at my dad’s house I’m happy to say that I leave for Russia two weeks from tomorrow. (Love you, dad!) Once I’m in Moscow, I will have a weeklong orientation before I move to my host city of Murom. Murom’s about 4-5 hours away from Moscow by train, which is really not bad when you consider the vastness [, glory, and splendor] of the motherland. In fact, it’s located in the same oblast’ (Russian administrative district) as Vladimir, a city where I lived last summer as an intern. Murom is also pretty close to Nizhny Novgorod, a city of 1.25 million that I’ve heard awesome things about but have yet to visit. That being said, I don’t know much about Murom or what to expect from life in a Russian city of just over 100,000 inhabitants. According to Wikipedia, Murom’s been around since around the year 900, making it one of the oldest cities in Russia. It’s the home of the “East Slavic epic hero” Ilya Muromets, not that that means anything to me (YET!). Apparently, during the Soviet era Murom was a closed-city, meaning that foreigners were prohibited from entering because of secrecy surrounding the defense industries there. There is not much else to learn about Murom via the internet, so I guess we’ll have to wait until I get there!

Vladimirskaya Oblast' (Murom's county, essentially) in relation to the rest of Russia

Vladimirskaya Oblast’ (Murom’s county, essentially) in relation to the rest of Russia

I’ll be teaching beginning and intermediate students of English, other teachers, and some graduates at the University in Murom. My contact tells me that we will go over all other specifics when I arrive and not to worry. So basically I am trying to be as chill as possible about not knowing the details. I’ve developed a very zen attitude toward the mystery surrounding my lodging for the next ten months. (My parents do not share the zen. Go figure.)

I’ve scored a decent coat, so all that’s left is to gather up the rest of my teaching supplies (if you have any suggestions for cool/spatially efficient items that could help me share “American culture,” please comment!) and pack. I’ll keep y’all updated!