I guess I will work my trip backwards. I was in Russia for a total of 8 weeks. Here is week 8.
We had just returned by overnight train from St. Petersburg, and we had to go to class that morning (it was Tuesday). We were all exhausted. I had gone home, and when I walked into the flat, I was informed that for some reason, there was no water at all (all Russians lose their hot water for at least 2 weeks during the summer, but not usually all their water). Since I hadn't taken a shower and felt gross and was tired, this was not good news. However, they had heated up water for me (the neighbors had water) and I took a cat-bath. Classes actually went better than I thought they would. It was my last day of video class, a class I really enjoyed.
That evening, we had a party at Swathi's flat. She was a student who had been in Moscow for a full year, and so she was leaving early. I really like Swathi and I hope that we will stay in touch. We had watermelon and brownies. They were very good. Also, Swathi's housemom had entirely remodeled the flat. Most Russian flats pretty much look like they were built in the 1950s (which they were) and most hadn't really had anything done to them since. Swathi's flat looked like it could have been featured in an American condo magazine. It was beautiful. With heated tiles in the bathroom and kitchen. Just amazing.
Wednesday. My last day of conversation class. That was very sad. When I got to Russia, I could barely speak Russian. Now, in Russian, I can tell you that I am adopted by my dad, about my entire family, where they live, what they do, how old they are, about my brother's drug addiction, his tattoos and body piercings, how he got cleaned up, the fact that he is now a single dad (no one in Russia understands this concept: how can a man take care of child all by himself. They all assumed he lived with my parents and that my mom took care of my nephew, and I still don't think they believed me that he didn't), about my bad marriage, about Wes's life story, and about my studies, among other things.
That evening, we had a party with the teacher's. We went to Pancho villas, where most of the food was actually Mexican (except the fajitas) and the strawberry margaritas were excellent. The program paid for the food, and it just kept coming and coming and coming. It was great. We also gave our professors gifts from all the students. We had split up the professors, and we were supposed to spend about $10 each. Ok, so side story: there was this one girl, let's call her Kari. Kari lived in a dorm, not with a family, because she's "really independent." And she was also in another program from us, so we really didn't see her that much. We had split up the gifts in St. Pete's and told her at Peterhoff that she was buying a gift for Galina. We talked about it for at least 5 minutes. Then, on the train, Danny told Kari twice that she was buying for Galina. Then, on Wed. at lunch, we were discussing all the presents and asked Kari what she had gotten for Galina (the head of the entire program), and she was like, "what, why didn't anyone tell me?" So, she went and bought a $50 coffee table book, and then asked us all (repeatedly) to give her money for it. Needless to say, when she threw herself a birthday party on Friday, no one went.
Thursday. Last day of class. Very sad. I think everyone went home and slept.
Friday. We went to a chocolate factory. It was great!!! We got to see how everything worked and we got a ton of chocolate. If I was more computer knowledgeable, I would show the pictures of me in my lab coat and lunch lady hairnet they made us wear. I will figure out how to do that and post the pictures later. Friday night, Elena, Illona and I went to dinner. They are my Russian friends, and they wouldn't let me pay. It was really, really expensive, but very good. I tried the Ukrainian dish of pig fat (it tastes like cold bacon fat without the meat), which is a really good vodka chaser, which we also drank.
Saturday. Didn't do much of anything. Went to market in the evening and bought some gifts.
Sunday. Went to the VDNKh park. It's like a giant state fair, with rides and exhibitions. It was beautiful and I took a ton of pictures. It was built to exhibit the greatness of the various peoples of the USSR. Now, the exhibits are a bunch of stores. Makes you kind of feel sorry for them. Then I met my friends and we went to the market again, and I finished up buying presents. Packed for the first time. Went out for Japanese food with Elena and her boyfriend Denis. The food was great. I'm really going to miss them. That was the last time I saw them, and it was very emotional.
Monday: went to the VDNKh with Nina (Elena's mom, who I was living with). We had a great time. Went home, packed again. Monday night, all the students moved into the dorms. Some students went out, but most of us stayed in and watched Russian movies.
Tuesday: got up at 3:30a. Got on the bus for the airport by 4:00am. I think I already wrote about the rest of this.
So, that was the last week of my life in Russia. I soon as I figure out how, I'll post some pictures.