Yesterday was a federal holiday, so I had a three-day weekend; Nathan wasn’t so lucky. 

On Friday, our department celebrated first-year initiation. Basically, this means they rented an auditorium, and each group of students in the department put together various skits and activities to help the first-years feel welcome and supported. It actually was a really nice event; the students put a lot of effort into their performances and costumes, and it came together well. The fourth-years made a video comparing student life to the Olympics. It was hilarious; I’ve asked them to send it to me so I can show it to you. In addition to being entertaining, it also shows a lot of the unique aspects of this university/Russian universities–plus you get to see some of my lovely students! 

After that, we went to a Halloween party at Nathan’s school. It was relatively fun, although it appeared that the teachers hadn’t been able to decide whether it should be a fun party or a school party, so it tottered awkwardly from school to fun and back. Our costumes were a flop. Nathan was Indiana Jones, who nobody recognized. I, being a fun hater, poor, and also not having planned to go to this party until a few hours beforehand, covered a flat, round baking try in aluminum foil, drew a quarter on it (first in glue, then sprinkled with tea leaves), strapped it onto my person, and went as a quarterback. Not only did people have no idea what a quarter was, but also they didn’t know enough American football to recognize the word “quarterback.” Occupational hazards of being a pun-lover in a foreign country. 

Sunday was the day of Cherepovets’s founding, so a fourth-year, Kate, took us downtown to take part in the festivities. The main street was closed to traffic, and a big market was set up down the middle of it. People were milling around in period dress (TIL that in the 1700s, Russian merchants wore awesome coats), selling traditional Russian crafts next to cheap Chinese toys, and at the end of the street, they had a camel, a reindeer pulling a sleigh (on wheels), mini horses, and normal horses for kids to ride. We got our picture taken with a camel. I’ll upload the picture when I get my memory card back from Nathan the Stealer. 

When I was sick and home alone last week, the intercom went off in the dorm. Unfortunately, I only understood two words: “fire” and “evacuate.” Needless to say, I found this partial news concerning, so I put on my boots and went to go ask at the desk what was up. She said it didn’t concern me, and that I could go back to bed.

Last night, I was exhausted and went to bed around midnight. Around 12:30, as I was just drifting off, a similar message (I assume) came on, and again, I only understood “fire” and “exit.” My sleep-fogged brain didn’t care. A few minutes later, another message played, and this time I only understood “wet towels against the door”.  So I went out and asked (not good fire sense, maybe, but I could hear voices in the hall, and they didn’t sound scared), and sure enough, the lobby was full of people who told me that yes, there was a fire upstairs, but we weren’t supposed to evacuate yet (what?). Nathan and I went back to our room, put on coats and boots, packed our passports and credit cards and got our instruments ready to go, and went outside to watch events transpire. 

The residents of the upper floors had been instructed not to leave their rooms, but to go out on the balconies and wait for further instructions. At this point we were grateful that there wasn’t snow, because a snowball fight would surely have ensued, and we would have been very much at a disadvantage in terms of elevation (although we would have had the edge in ammunition). There were two fire “trucks” and about 6 firemen, none of whom seemed the least bit concerned about that 700 people’s home was about to go up in flames.

Needless to say, it didn’t. Turns out some idiot (infraction # 1) was smoking in the dorm (infraction # 2) and threw their cigarette in the trash can (infraction # 3). Apparently college kids are dumb everywhere.