You know all those fun things you would probably take your exchange student to do if you had one? Ice skating, skiing, visiting local points of interest, visiting friends and family together? Well, my host family decided to start doing those things the very day after I left. First they went skiing.


Then they went ice skating with Sasha’s sister, who was frequently talked about, but whom I never met.


This is my favorite snow game.


How come we never did any of these things together? I would have invited them, but they were always complaining about their health and never mentioned any interest in winter sports, so I didn’t bother. Better luck next winter.

Although we didn’t ever go on adventures, we did go to the Raif Monastery my last weekend in Kazan. We weren’t there long — they had just come to get some holy water, and it was too cold to stay and poke around — but we were there long enough to get the only photos I have of my Russian babushka.