1. The metro station that takes me to school is supposed to open at 5:36 AM. For the last two days when I’ve gotten there, it’s been closed, with no warning (except, I suppose, the first day’s precedent) and no explanation, until 10AM. The station is still working; trains arrive there as usual and people exit through the same part of the station I want to enter; just the entrance doors are locked.

 

2. There’s a girl staying at the hostel who has a strange way of indicating that she’s in line for the bathroom: she turns the light off. I think she’s from Belarus, and I’m sorry to say that this method is perfectly in line with everything else I know about Belarus.

 

3. Speaking of Belarus, I’ve had Russians tell me straight-up that I’m wrong: in English it is called “White Russia,” not Belarus. Do I need to get my native speaker status put on a laminated card? 

 

4. The Russian certification exam (TORFL or ТРКИ) (did your brain hurt when you were reading those acronyms, and everything looked familiar until suddenly OH NO AN И?) is supposed to be offered at my school every Thursday and Friday. I wrote the testing center 3 weeks ago to schedule a test; they never responded, and unfortunately I was too busy to follow up. Went to talk to them on Monday, and they said they aren’t offering it this week. I asked why, and they said they’re just not. Asked if they could make an exception, and they said no. So I guess no test for me.

 

5. The administration of the TORFL is highly restricted outside of Russia. As far as I can tell, the only place in the US that offers it is Duke (for those of you without Carolina-crazed mothers, Duke is 6 hours from ATL, 9 hours from Louisville, and 2 hours from where my family in NC lives, which is further than I want to drive over Thanksgiving break). And there’s no mention of it being offered on Duke’s website; I just heard a whisper of it on a forum. 

 

6. If I can’t work something out to take the test before I leave, and if Duke doesn’t offer it after all, I will have to shell out for a return trip to Russia before I can apply to grad school. 

 

7. Alexandra and her sister, Bronte, arrived yesterday from Germany. Before she left, Alexandra sent me their flight info, but left out one important detail: the date. Digging back through my e-mails I ascertained that she was arriving today, on the 19th. Apparently that wasn’t the case.

 

8. Anna Rose said she was staying a day extra in Helsinki, so she is expected to arrive tomorrow. This is interesting, because she just wrote me to say she’d be here in an hour. 

 

9. Our grammar/business Russian teacher is hilarious, but he also broke our brains with crazy idiomatic expressions. For example, “еще бы не” literally means “still would not”, but in context “should have.” Or if you say, for instance, “делай не делаешь”, it literally means “do don’t do”. In a sentence, it would mean “Because of what you are not doing, others are harmed/inconvenienced.” One more: “так-то оно так”, literally “thus-well it thus” (yes, really), means “That’s the basic principle/what people say, but I disagree somewhat.” Oh, the pain in my brain.

 

What is this world, people? 

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