FIRST STEPS

I haven’t written in so long! I feel like I’ve barely been home since I began this blog, because of the number of weekends I’ve been driving up and down to see family or my boyfriend, and in rare moments of quiet, I’ve been busy making arrangements for my year abroad. But, I’m in Russia now: currently, Moscow, as I sit in the airport with a huge glass of coffee (and a straw!), waiting to board my connection to Perm. There are so many airport announcements – they’re near constant – that I’m not sure I’ll even realise when my flight is being called. I can’t post any photos, as airports in Russia are considered sites of strategic importance and I could be arrested if I’m caught photographing any part of Domodedovo. Having said that, I have no internet connection here anyway despite my best efforts, so this will be late when it is eventually posted…
Yesterday was a very tiring and emotional day, leaving behind loved ones and boarding the plane to Moscow. Navigating airport security was lengthy and involved my first, extremely stumbling, attempts at conversing in Russian. I then had to dodge various interesting characters in the airport foyer, who seemed extremely concerned that I appeared to have no taxi waiting, and were anxious to offer me their services. So kind! I rang my hotel to arrange for a shuttle, and then waited in the middle of a busy thoroughfare (safety first!) for it to arrive. There is a lot of traffic in Russia, and they hoot at each other indiscriminately. One woman had so many bags on a baggage trolley coming past that they kept falling off. She seemed quite good-humoured about this, though. I wished her good luck, which I think she appreciated.
I arrived at the hotel for my one-night stopover  and checked-in in a hybrid of Russian and English. I was directed to the third floor, but in a state of stress and culture-shock didn’t feel up to testing my inveterate claustrophobia in the lift, so struggled to lug my two extremely heavy suitcases up the fire escape instead. At the top, I met two extremely chivalrous Russians (I am very much enjoying the male conscientiousness here, despite its inherent sexism) who aided me with my bags, immediately realised I was English (always encouraging) and asked me why I hadn’t taken the lift. It’s always fun to try to explain a ridiculous fear of small spaces in another language, but I gave it my best shot. By this time, I’d developed a migraine, so I downed an ibuprofen and raided the minibar for salted peanuts before connecting to the internet in a state of first-world joy and calling my family and boyfriend.
The restaurant was closed for the night of my stay (of course!) because of a wedding, so a buffet was served in a conference room instead. I arrived at the tail-end, and my beef stroganoff was mainly sauce, but there was some extremely tasty mushroom soup which I enjoyed wholeheartedly. I then painted my nails and watched Friends in my room to calm down before turning in for the night.
This morning, I failed to find the breakfast room and when I found it and was asked for my room number, the waitress professed not to understand me. We underwent the enormously entertaining process of my saying “trista pyat” (305), her shaking her head, me showing her the written number and her repeating “ah trista pyat!” which I seem to become embroiled in every time I visit a foreign country… long may it continue! I’d booked a morning shuttle back to the airport, and convinced myself incorrectly that I was fearless so was able to take the lift down to reception. Airport check-in and security went remarkably quickly although I initially struggled to find the bag-drop queue (cue more English from sympathising Russians)… I believe I can see my plane right in front of me from the cafe window now, so I think I should go and check the screen. As you can tell, I am tired and rather disgruntled, but also very able to laugh at myself and look forward to the adventures to come, particularly arriving in Perm and meeting the lovely people I’ve been in touch with so far. Until next time!

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