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Hi all!

Complete failure with the two blog posts a month, I know.

Here is a quick update: I am writing my final papers. Unfortunately,

my life has been pretty boring.  I will put up a blog post wednesday

about this strange play I saw, and it will have some videos!

For now, Happy Birthday to my beautiful cousin Alyssa!! ❤

and Happy Birthday to Papi Grande, he is my inspiration every day.

He serves as a reminder that you should follow your passion and

beautiful things can come of that. I love you both with all my heart.

❤ Isabela

P.S. Here is a picture of me with two kids I volunteered with for a week.

They are total sweethearts!

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I know I have not posted in a lifetime!

Here is a quick update on what has been going on in my life.  I spent six weeks at home mostly eating and enjoying time with my family and friends.  I always enjoy being home because it is usually a time when I can decompress.  Unfortunately, I did lots of procrastinating and ended up writing some papers very last minute.  I did get to go to vegas with my parents and Analea, which was in fact so so much fun.  I also went to New York to visit some friends and my godmother, Leigh!  I got to go sledding for the first time in my life, which ended hilariously (picture me sliding down a hill of snow backwards).  Almost forgot to say that I was in DC for a day! I was finally reunited with my roommate Meg! (8 months is a long time not to see someone that I used to share a room with!)

Since my return I’ve been reading a lot and spending lots of time at my favorite bookstore Fahrenheit 451.  I also came back to a very clean room that is now filled with my 100 pounds of luggage I hauled over from the U.S.  I am taking a class on Russian Theatre and have seen both Diary of a Madman written by Gogol and Living Corpse written by Tolstoy.  It has also gotten quite warm out, hitting 30-35 everyday.  While that may not seem warm for Texas, it might as well be summer in Petersburg.  There is a photo of some ducks swimming in the melted part of the river.

I am making a promise to put up at least two blog posts per month (maybe more if I do something worth telling about)! Sending all my love back home ❤

-Isabela

NYC sledding

NYC sledding

ducks hanging out at their watering hole

ducks hanging out at their watering hole

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Fahrenheit 451!

Fahrenheit 451!

at the Alexandrinsky Theatre to watch Living Corpse

at the Alexandrinsky Theatre to watch Living Corpse

a very clean room

a very clean room

 

I have decided that I need to see more museums and experience the city around me! I have been so caught up with school work. When I saw Palace Square I realized that I had yet to see it since my arrival this time around. Our university planned a guided tour of the Manifesta 10 art exhibit that is currently displayed at the Hermitage. For those who don’t know (as I did not know upon arriving at the exhibit), Manifesta 10 is a bi-annual contemporary art exhibit that is displayed in a different city every time. There is something for everyone here! Some of the art was quite different than what I have seen before and would consider art, but regardless, I had a great time! One of the pieces is a project that fixed the living situation of the Hermitage cats that live in the basement of the winter palace. Another, that is photographed below takes up a massive room and resembles a partially destroyed apartment complex. While another involved crashing a car into a tree in the courtyard of the Hermitage. Here are some photos from the excursion 🙂

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Unfortunately, last Sunday was the last day of the incredibly amazing weather here. A sharp 15 degree (Fahrenheit) drop made that very clear on Monday morning. Luckily, Sasha had the great idea of heading to Kranshtadt, a small island on the north end of Petersburg, for the day. The only thing to see there is this church that just recently celebrated its 100th birthday! This church is the naval cathedral of Saint Nicholas (the saint that watches overs sailors and the seas). It is absolutely beautiful! Here are some photos from the excursion 🙂

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Everyone who knows me well knows that I turn into a five-year old child when it comes to needles. Blood tests, shots, i.v’s: I hate them all. So, when I was told upon arriving that I would have to take a second HIV test to get my visa extension, I was shaken to say the least. I avoided it as long as I could, but without my visa extension I cannot stay in the country longer than 90 days. (Just a note, Russia requires HIV tests for anyone staying longer than 90 days because there is an incredibly high rate of HIV in the general population and this is a way to stop new cases from entering the country.) Anyways, last week I finally went to get it done. Joined by three other girls from the university we went into an invitro fertilization clinic (of course) to get our blood drawn. Walking through a room of pregnant women, the four foreigners trekked to the back office to sign up and pay. When it was my turn I took my friend Sara into the room and told the nurse that I was very scared and nervous. The entire time I hyperventilated, and the nurse stared at me like I was crazy (what a great experience this was). Needless to say, when I went back for my results both the nurse and the reception laughed at me. Germans say (at least this one German I know told me this :)) that shared pain is half the pain. Maybe since there are 4 of us it was 1/4 of the pain? I would like to think so 🙂 I promise to try and put a new post up once a week
(Here is a photo of all of our arms post-blood draw)

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On Sunday I finally moved to my new apartment! This means that more often than not I am by myself, and I really don’t like this. On the plus side, I am now within walking distance to my university and live in such a beautiful part of Saint-Petersburg!! My host sister and brother from my previous apartment were kind enough to bring me and all of my things to my new apartment and help me get settled. We then decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head out to the suburbs of southern Saint- Petersburg, better known as Pavlovsk and Pushkin. Pushkin is the place where Catherine the Great had her summer palace, and it is absolutely beautiful!! The park in the area is so nice. I am still figuring out how to insert pictures so for now they will be at the bottom of the post. After Pushkin, Sasha (in the photo with me) invited me to Pavlovsk with two of her friends. This park is also very pretty and we were able to rent a small boat and row around the lake a bit. Her friends were nice enough to drop me back at my place at the end of the night and I really had so much fun spending the day with them 🙂

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In Russian class, I was always taught that if a Russian offers you something it is best to say yes. I learned quickly that even if you say no, you will eventually be eating or drinking whatever you were offered. You might be thinking, why would this be a problem? Well when you’re like me, you choose to say yes to everything out of politeness and don’t make a fuss about it. As I am currently a guest at someone’s apartment, I feel an obligation to take what is given to me with a smile. An example of when it might have been best to say no is the first day I arrived. After an incredibly rough day (think constantly throwing up on a 10 hour flight), my host picked me up at the airport and we continued to drive two hours to get to the apartment. When I arrived I was offered some soup, which I gladly took. Then I heard something about language (I would like to make note that the word for tongue is the same word for language). So I said yes, my language is good. Out comes an entire cow tongue. Yes, I ate cow tongue slices on an incredibly uneasy stomach with a smile on my face. Another example is last night. I was eating some cheese slices and my host mom gave me some bread to eat them with. This bread smelled kinda funny to me (think nail polish and acetone), but I decided to just eat it anyway. Then my host sister took a slice and made a face and said, “this smells like acetone!!” She then turned to me and said, “hell why are you eating this??!” I just laughed and said that it did indeed smell kinda funny. Turns out the bread was rotten. Go me. Politeness, I hope you didn’t make me sick.