Well, I’m getting my Petersburgian life in order. I’ve got my warm boots and coat (the latter being like a sleeping bag with fake fur trim), our apartment is mostly unpacked, arranged, furnished, and decorated, and today I went to the university to sign up for Russian lessons.

When I was here in 2002 I took classes for three months in the Russian for Foreigners program at St. Petersburg State University, which was a very positive experience. The teachers are great; you meet lots of other foreign students; it’s flexible, so you could come for a week or a year; they have cultural events and optional classes like Russian folk music that you can just drop in on; and you get a very useful student card which entitles you to discounts and Russian Price at museums and concerts.

So I went to the office to sign up for classes, and said to a woman at the administrative office “I’m a new student” and the woman next to her said “No, she’s an old student.” How nice to be recognized!

I’ll start classes tomorrow. I had a choice between two groups, an easier one which had a lot of students in it and a more difficult one with fewer students. I chose the latter, but I can switch if it’s too hard. According to the class roster almost all the students are Chinese, which in my experience is cool, I love those crazy Asian kids, but it makes Phonetics class really irritating — pronunciation is my strong point and always a huge challenge for native speakers of Asian languages, so sitting there listening to them mangle the language gets old fast. Oh well.

The group meets 9:30-12:40 every day, which is a good schedule, but I’ll have to work hard to wake up that early — the earliest I’ve woken up since we moved into the apartment is 9:30! I’m not a complete lazy ass, I just find it genuinely physically difficult to wake up when it’s still dark out. But there’s no choice this far north!