Not forever, but at least for now. And if I’m lucky, I’ll never have to take this particular exam again.

Last night, darling Katja helped me go over the practice test I found online, and that’s when I discovered that I wasn’t the problem: the test was. Several times I’d give her the question and answer choices, and her response would be “…Are those the only choices you’re given? Because I would say _____.”

Let me present as evidence this question from the reading section. There are three excerpts, each about 1.5-2 pages long; the first is a historical/cultural topic (on both the practice test and the real test it was an essay on the history of a Russian city), the second a scientific one (about the physical similarities between humans and trees and possible benefits thereof), and the third an excerpt from a literary work. We will deal with the third section.

Plot summary: A little (maybe 2ish) boy is playing when a wolf comes up behind him and starts playing with him. The kid doesn’t know what a wolf is, so he assumes it’s a dog and enjoys its company. Turns out the wolf is sad because the boy’s father shot its puppies the night before (this is all  explained at the very very end of the story, not at the beginning as it should have been). So the wolf snatches the little boy and runs away. Someone tells the father that the wolf is running away with his son, and the father grabs his gun and fires warning shots. But the wolf isn’t scared of the gun, so eventually the dad decides to shoot the wolf. The wolf falls, and the dad goes over there and sees that he’s shot his son (unclear whether he shot the wolf too, or the wolf just fell over for dramatic effect).
Q: “The little boy…”
  A. mistook the wolf for a dog
  B. was not afraid of wolves
  C. misidentified the animal.
How about…
D. All of the above? Or
E. Two of these things are the exact same thing? Or
F. “The little boy” isn’t a question?
This was made extra-traumatic by the fact that I started the test on a very bad note, namely by taking the test for Russian citizenship instead of the Test Russian as  Foreign Language. So then I got scolded by the proctor in front of a room of Russian hopefuls: “How did you mess this up!? You’re at the second level; you should have understood! Now what are you going to do?!” What I did was sit quietly until she stopped yelling and gave me the test. Despite the 45-minute delay, I finished the test before most of the other TORFL-takers. Whether that’s an ill omen remains to be seen.
I celebrated the end of the first (and longer, and more stressful) day by, for the first time in my life, using a fake ID!  A girl who was staying at the hostel lent me her Ottawa University student ID so I could get into the Ethnographic Museum for the student price (because paying $12 to see an exhibition about socks is just ridiculous). Although we don’t look anything alike in real life, her picture was passably similar to me. She meant to take it home when she left yesterday, but…she didn’t. So now I guess I get to mail it to Canada when I get back to the states. Whee! In the meantime, I got to use it for the Dostoevsky Museum, which I’d been saving for today because of its notoriously long Russian audio guide–figured it’d be good practice for the listening comp test tomorrow. It was.
Would you believe me if I told you that Dostoevsky loved kids? Because I’m still doubting my own ears. Anyway, the Dostoevsky Museum is worth a visit even if you have to shell out $5 (oh no!) for a full-price ticket.
Celebration Part 2 came when, shortly after arriving home (thanks largely to the ridiculously long metro escalators), I finished my second-ever full novel in Russian! I’m taking a day off from reading, but I’ve already found a bunch of new things to read. Next on the list: The Perfume by Patrick Süskind (in the original German, finally). The best thing about tomorrow will be the end of the Great German Hunger.
Oh, speaking of German–a girl in the hostel and I got to talking. We’d both spent the year teaching English in smaller cities ,although we’re both from the US originally (she’s from Dallas). Turns out she taught at Vologda State University. Also turns out she studied Russian in college for a couple of years, but her major was German. Also turns out she studied abroad in Berlin (albeit at the Humbold-Universität, which I wish I had interest in but don’t). Crazy, right?
Anna Rose and Carson are having a good time so far in Moscow, it sounds like. Alexandra and Bronte set off with their newly purchased tent for Arkhangelsk, 26 hours northwest of here. They’ll be back in about 5 days to greet Nathan for our super-secret museum day that you can’t tell him about. But yes–there will be xachapuri.