Saturday, February 28, 2015

For some reason, all the teachers here at the academy don't tell us their names. I think we're just expected to know their names already. That being said, I don't know my character teachers name, but he's easily one of our favorites. Because my class is mostly Japanese students, he often starts counting in Japanese instead of Russian, sending them all into fits of giggles. He always jokes around, his many facial expressions and voices are easy to mimic and laugh about on the sides. Morgan, Yumiko (a japanese girl who's the best in our class) and I often mimic his sound effects until he hears us and starts laughing and shaking a finger in our direction.

Last week, he had downloaded a flashlight app onto his smart phone. However a popup offering that he buy the extended version appeared, but it was in English. So he walked over to me as I was putting my shoes on for class, and said in Russian, "I don't know English, could you help me?" After directing him in the right direction he stood and ceremoniously bowed in a Japanese fashion. 
And his reaction to me sitting out of class because my back was hurting? "Oh, your back hurts? Then my heart hurts."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Anyone who knows me, knows that I deal with back pain on a 24/7, daily basis. Diagnosed with spinal degeneration, in short, the cartilage in my lower back is either pulled tight or pinched depending on the vertebrae. Last time I had it checked (in late September, shortly before coming to Moscow) I had reached the 4th out of 5 categories in severity. There's no cure and since I'm super stubborn and I love ballet, I'm ignoring my chiropractor's suggestion to quit dancing for now at least.

So since it's been bothering me more than usual, I decided to head down to the Academy doctor's office to complain and get a slip of paper, excusing me from class for a few days. My plan was just to go have her look at me and say to rest, because since my back pain is lifelong all I really need is a short mental health break before going back in.

Let's just say things did not go as planned. 
The doctor was in a bad mood when I got there. Angrily asking what was wrong I told her my back was sore. She FLIPPED OUT. Telling me how bad that was and how I was a stupid dancer for hurting it in the first place. She sent me back outside to the waiting room and said she'd be making phone calls and by nighttime I'd be in a hospital. So, since I'm a person who'd rather die than go to the hospital, of course I was unnerved. I tried to explain that I had seen a doctor in America and I knew what was wrong and I just needed to rest. That made her even more mad. She told me I was stupid and disrespectful and to go to the nurse so that they could have data such as my temperature to give to the hospital. Turns out I had a fever. So when I had to report my temperature to the doctor she scolded me for being selfish and not coming to the doctor sooner and telling her because soon I would infect the whole school and when no one could dance it would be all my fault.
So after all that, arrangements were made for me to go the Global Medical Center and I was not pleased. I called my Mom at 4:30am her time asked what I had to do. I had to go to the ATM to get 7000 rubles to pay for this myself since it was too early in the morning for the Academy to contact my insurance. But neither of my debit cards were working. Then I briefly thought I lost my passport. So when Morgan asked me if everything was okay I just started crying and hyperventilating to the point when Morgan decided she'd be accompanying me to the hospital. 
Once we got there, I had to fill out my own hospital forms. And I decided that I didn't want to be a grownup. After a short wait I ended up in an exam room with a doctor saying that the doctor at the Academy requested X-rays and thankfully he didn't deem that necessary. He told me to take off my boots, jeans and t shirt and proceeded to administer mediocre chiropractic care. Surprisingly it worked. 
So 6 hours after this all started I finally arrived back at the academy it was dinner time. I thought, "Wow, I'm lightheaded with hunger and I have a splitting headache. Surely I can eat before seeing the doctor again." I was wrong. A nurse came into the dining hall and demanded that I go see the doctor right. this. second. So I went and the devil started yelling again because I guess she just likes yelling. I just answered, "Da." to every question because I was too tired to try and translate. 
And like a soldier from battle, I left that room waving a little, green sheet of paper saying that I didn't have to dance for 5 days.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Here is a list of classes offered to my level. International Trainee.  Stajor.  Not sure why I just used the word "offered" because let me tell you, these classes are 100% mandatory. 200% mandatory.

All classes will be rated on the ridiculous 1-10 pain scale that confuses me, for easy understanding of my struggles:
    Classical Ballet: This class is a very hardcore 10. It also involves my teacher yelling at me very loudly. In this class we practice certain exercises and steps to increase strength, flexibility and control.  
    Repertoire: This is one of my favorite classes. In this class we learn solo variations from classical ballets. So basically an example would be Act 3 Sleeping Beauty wedding variation. Rated 6 in pain, only because dancing a 3 minute dance nonstop kinda hurts your lungs. 
     Pointe: Basically classical ballet, but with pointe shoes. Duh. Due to my lack of healthy toe nails, this is more painful than it should be. But I'm skilled at ignoring the pain. I'd give it a 4? Yeah a 4 sounds good.
     Character: I love this class! It's like folk dancing? Kinda. It's hard to explain. Google it, if you're curious, because I'm horrible at explaining. This class isn't painful, it's just long and sometimes boring. Rated 2. 
      Historical: The. Most. Boring. Class. Ever. Okay so here we learn old time dances like the Minuet and Valse for a whole 2 hours with a teacher who has a crazed look in her eyes and insists that historical is THE MOST IMPORTANT CLASS and corrects everything down to where your eyeballs are pointed. I kid you not we literally hold hands and walk around the room while she yells for 2 hours. Rated 10 for mental torture.
      Modern: This is also one of my favorite classes! This teacher also kind of has a crazed look in her eyes, but then again, most of the teachers do. She speaks quite a bit of english and she's the perfect mixture of serious and hilarious. Her favorite thing to say is "OH MY GOD! Girls. Not good." This class isn't painful until we start rolling around on the floor resulting in tender, bruised hips. Rated 4.
      Gymnastics: Rated 1000. Enough said. My hatred for this class is forever. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Last Friday, Morgan took me out with her to meet some friends from her church for a night of go-carting and Georgian food! (The country, not the state of course.)

First we took a 30 minute journey through the Metro then we crossed a very busy street and almost got run over. Then we got in a car and I wanted to die. Anyone who knows me, knows that I HATE cars and driving and everything related to it. But Russian drivers are like NYC cab drivers on crack. I kid you not, I thought I was gonna die.

But, finally we arrived and got into these NASCAR jumpsuits and I found myself in a go-cart. And guess what?! I was flooring the gas, never got pulled over, never hit anything or anyone AND I came in 5th out of 12 people.

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Afterwards we went to this Georgian restaurant. You know how Americans really like Mexican food? Georgian food is like the Mexican food of Russia. We had these mushrooms with bread and cheese inside, and these HUGE dumplings with either meat and mint inside or potato and cheese. Then we had this flat bread with herbs and gooey cheese. And this big round pastry with cheese and a raw egg in the middle! Basically the key word is cheese. It was so good. Like really really good.
In the middle of our meal a small bug started crawling across the table, we called over the waitress who called over the manager who apologized profusely and gave a pitcher of this lime green drink that could probably glow in the dark. We made sure it didn't have any alcohol, before trying it. It was heavily carbonated and tasted like a combination of green apple and black licorice. And it also, following the trend of the restaurant, was sooooo good. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Consider this your step by step guide to Emma's morning:

    6:00am - My first alarm goes off. This is more of a little warning. I open my eyes and check my phone. My friends send me text messages and snapchats (sometimes so many that my phone crashes!) while I'm sleeping and I do the same to them. It's an easy way we've found to keep each other updated. So I check my notifications and answer them. Depending on how tired I am, I either drift back to sleep or stay awake and text friends and family until they go to bed. 
    6:50am- Alarm number 2 goes off. I roll out of bed and head down the hall to brush my teeth and wash my face. I look in the mirror and access the state of my under eye bags. Usual in critical condition.
    7:00am- I sit on my dorm room floor and do my hair and makeup. Sometimes I'm listening to music, sometimes talking and joking around with my roommates and sometimes one of my friends will be awake and free to FaceTime. 
    7:20am- I get dressed (which requires choosing one of the 20 leotards I have here with me. That's serious downsizing since I have about 30 still in Texas. Oops.) and fill up my water bottle, take vitamins, grab a drinkable yogurt...etc. etc. I get ready pretty quickly so most mornings I spend a lot of time communicating with people at home. Since my friends in the USA are in school when I'm going to bed, it's usually the only chance I get to talk to them.
    7:55am- Morgan (roommate) starts tapping her foot by the door ready to go down to breakfast. If you're late, it's easy to get caught at the end of a very long line of students waiting for breakfast and that is just a HUGE waste of time. I usually don't eat the Kasha because this semester they're serving mainly my least two favorites. So it's just bread and butter to accompany my yogurt for me! Lately I've just been staying in my room and skipping the dining room completely.
    8:10am- We go up to the 2nd floor where all the studios are and wait in the hallways and stretch before our 9 o clock class. I used to have a routine that I went through before classes but now, in the mornings my brains are going in about 100 different directions. With all the different conversations I carry on earlier in the morning and with anticipation for the upcoming day, I find it easiest to stretch for about 10 to 15 minutes then I just sit. My classmates laugh at me but I really just sit and put my earbuds in and focus. Often, my music is turned up so loud that they have to throw something at me to get my attention!
    9:00am- Class starts! When my teacher walks in the room we're already doing the set warmup exercises that she likes for us to start without her so that we don't waste time. Within 10 seconds of her entering the room she's already yelling at me. It's strict and it's hard, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't like it.

Actual photo of what I do before class taken by a classmate.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Here's a list of things people told me about Russia, debunked.

    1) "That's such a hard alphabet to learn!" okay. Literally the cyrillic alphabet is the easiest part. It's the cyrillic everything else that's horrible! I don't even consider the alphabet hard anymore! But the different ADJECTIVE endings depending on what the adjective is describing is so hard. What kind of language has different adjective endings.
    2) "You're going to freeze!" Surprisingly, The United States has been colder than Russia on many occasions. Texas has been colder than Russia, I repeat, Texas has been colder than Russia.
    3) "Don't get a Russian boyfriend!" If you know my very well, you know that I have no time for, nor interest in boyfriends. Doesn't mean I haven't been creepily stared at by Russian men, but let's be honest, that totally happens to everyone. Even in America. 
    4) "They're gonna feed you horse meat!" I, uh, can't argue with this one.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Friday's are our shortest days. With only ballet technique early in the morning and gymnastics (shudder) right after lunch, we are completely free from 2:30pm until 6:30 dinner.

Rather than spend all that time waiting around in our room, my roommate and partner in crime, Morgan and I decided to head to Gorky Park.

Over ten times the size of central park and home to ice rinks, a skate park, several fancy restaurants, numerous cafes, small amphitheaters, intricate playgrounds and street cars that sell fried corn on a stick. We walked around for about an hour until we were too cold to go any longer. We decided while the park was beautiful covered in snow and ice, we would much rather enjoy it was its a bit warmer.

Hopefully in April or so, we'll be able to go without concern for our fingers and frostbite.