We were told to come to get our test results after 11AM on Friday. At 11:01 I stepped into the testing office and immediately found myself participating in that ancient Russian pastime of waiting in line. The proctor called each of us to her desk (about 10 feet from the line) in turn, handed us a sheet of paper, told us our results, and praised or chastised us accordingly. This was all very stressful, as I really didn’t want anyone other than my poor self to be witness to the torrent of abuse I was sure to receive. The first person in line had taken the first level of certification (B1), and he had failed the writing section badly. She kept telling him “Your score was low, very very low…are you sure you completed all the tasks?” and eventually commanded him to wait until she was finished with all of us before deciding his fate. 

That made me feel better, because at least I wouldn’t be the first to suffer her abuse. So I began gearing myself up, preparing for the onslaught. BUT THE GUY IN FRONT OF ME WOULD NOT LEAVE. He got his results (also level 1) and was told that he had scored so well that he should have taken the 2nd level. Now, in my world, if there is a line of people behind you waiting for you to GTFO (go away), then you finish your business and GO AWAY. But not this guy. He STARTS A CONVERSATION about his rationale for taking Level 1 and how he’s pleased with his results and blah blah blah. I almost smacked him in the head. There is a time and a place for chit-chat, and the front of a line is not it. 

So yes, I did (eventually) get praised, admittedly not very much (didn’t deserve much praise). AND the test proctor even decided to stop being mad at me after my faux pas on Test Day 1, to the extent that she may have done me a great favor. You see, the certificates (which are mass-produced except for the name of the test-taker, the grade, and possibly (but probably not) the signatures) for some reason take 10 days to prepare. She asked me to come back on August 8th to get my certificate, which obviously isn’t possible. I knew it was possible to mail the certificate to an address in Russia, so that I could go pick it up at a friend’s apartment on our 6-hour layover in Cherepovets in August, but that would be a huge pain and, as a wise man once said, one steps’ addition that you do not need. So the Nice Lady told me a secret: the certificates were already printed and sent out to be signed, so why don’t I call on Monday and see if they’re ready yet? Wasn’t that nice of her?

By the way, I have some photos to show you. Tomorrow is Navy Day, and so there have been 2 battle ships and an extra submarine in the Neva, just chilling. I’ve been avoiding taking pictures, lest I be shot by a foreign navy (the Finns and Mexicans, of all nations, have representatives in town) for espionage. But yesterday I got a few (bad) shots from the far side of the river, where they couldn’t see me.  

Due partly to a scheduling error (read: I didn’t know my classroom number) and partly to the fact that I really don’t care about Writing/Mass Media classes, I skipped ALL of my classes on Friday and went to the Kunstkamera instead. It starts out with an exhibit on Russian sea exploration and segues quickly into Eskimo artifacts collected by Russian explorers. Most of the rest of the museum continues in a similar fashion, with a different exhibition hall or two for each continent. They even had some impressive Plains and California Native American stuff, although nothing from as far east as our guys (Cherokee, Algonquin, etc). 


I was going to tell you more about that, but I reminded myself of something I meant to post a long time ago. Sometimes, crazy old people start talking to you for no reason. Anna Rose and Carson and I were out on Vasilievsky Island (where my classes were) last week, and we came upon a very strange sight: five people decked out in Plains Indian garb complete with feather headdresses that reached the floor, with a full sound system and all kinds of panpipes and drums, were playing “music” outside the metro station. It was quite a spectacle and attracted a reasonably-sized crowd, including two very drunk men who were clutching their beer bottles and dancing in front of the “band”. Obviously, we, too, stopped to watch…

Enter Tiny Wizened Woman in Purple STAGE LEFT. 

TWWiP: Do you like the Indians? 
Kate: Yes, they’re very interesting. Do you?
TWWiP: Yes. It’s a shame that no one’s giving them money, but they’re out here singing anyway.
Kate: Yes, it is. C’est la vie.
TWWiP: I was in India once.

Kate: Did you see people like that there?

TWWiP: Of  course! There were people in hats like that dancing, there were very many of them…


Of course there were.