Once upon a time, I did some research and found the International Laboratory of Comparative Urban Studies, an institute that did research related to what I wanted to do in Russia. This was all blogged about, but probably not in a very detailed manner, so now I’m reviewing with you. I Googled the several directors of the institute and wrote the one whose research interests most closely aligned with mine. She (eventually, after prodding) replied, We’d love to have you come study with us, and we can definitely hook you up with some resources! Oh but ps I am not in Kazan and am not actually affiliated with the institute at the moment and also I’m in England and just had a baby sooooooo….

She passed me off like a baton to her colleague. Her colleague eventually stopped being the head of the institute and passed me off to Aleksandra Yatsyk, a Pretty Cool Scholar with whom I’ve been in contact for the last few months. But then Aleksandra Yatsyk wrote me to let me know that not only was she about to stop being head of the institute (that’s 3 changes of hands in 6 months, y’all), but the institute was going to be restructuring and changing its affiliation to another branch of the university (what this really means, I don’t know). She asked me whether it was the institute itself I was interested in, and I replied, in my most scholarly fashion, “Uh…I dunno,” followed closely with a request for her thoughts on the matter (which, I’m learning, is the academic way to say you have no idea). Her advice, paraphrased, was “Nawwww you don’t need those guys–you’ll be so much better over here with me at my institute!”

And that’s the story of how Kate the Baton got passed to the Center of Cultural Studies of Postsocialism. Since postsocialist ANYTHING is basically my favorite thing ever, I am pretty pumped about this turn of events.

What’s really funny to me about the process of setting up this affiliation is that after passing me around so much, no one can really remember how I came to them (except me, that is), so everyone keeps assuming that what I’m doing is way more official than it really is. Even my own study abroad office (who, admittedly, is notoriously not on its game) wanted to confirm that I wanted to take a hiatus from the FU, which was DEFINITELY NOT HAPPENING as my only claim to legitimacy (and therefore visa-worthiness) in Kazan is that I applied to KFU through the FU. Some people think I’m a Fulbrighter, some think I’m a postdoc–but really all I am is some punk kid who got it in her head to write an e-mail. Anyway, check out all the post-socialism institute’s cool stuff!

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What else has been going on? Alexandra’s (late and stressful) arrival in Berlin on the last day of class shall henceforth be known as the End of Sleep. We ran around, hung out with my Berlin friends as much as we could, went to a hipster street festival where we spent minimal money, rode bicycles, got caught up in a case of fraud (was it really fraud? got caught up in a case of Späti-owner-wants-to-gyp-us-out-of-20-euros, at any rate)–which Alexandra handled like a champ–cooked the world’s best lamb burgers (beyaz peynir–it’s like feta, but better–and deep-fried pepperoncini) and pretzels and ricotta fritters, and then caught a bus to Delft, Netherlands, about which I will tell you personally if you wish to know, but which will not be blogged about.

Then, I proceeded to my grandmother’s house to see my extended family, of whom I see far too little, my boyfriend, my Anna Rose, and my family.

Now I am back at Nathan’s in Frankfort, working on my 3 term papers and slowly realizing that I appear to have actually survived this semester without any major disasters (a few close calls notwithstanding). I think I could even turn in my papers tomorrow and pass everything, if only I didn’t want my professors to be able to say nicer things than “she passed” on my grad school applications.

Woooooooo.

3 days until my visa should get shipped to me.

13 days until liftoff.

16 days until my train arrives in Kazan.

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