Yes, yes, I’m still alive. Everything’s all green and beautiful in St. Petersburg and it doesn’t get dark until midnight and it’s really hard to remember what it was like when it was -30 and we only got six hours of sunlight a day. This is how St. Petersburg tricks people into staying here.

So, those of you reading in the US will have never heard of the Eurovision Song Contest (I myself heard of it for the first time only last year), but it’s been going on since the 1950’s and is like the Olympics of pop music. The event is, basically, a big joke, though I don’t think the organizers intend it that way. The songs are so cheesy and terrible, except for the ones intended to be funny.

And this year, there were several intended to be funny. Lithuania’s entry was to the tune of the playground taunt “Nya nya nya nya NYA nya” and the words were “We are the winners/of Eurovision/vote for the winners!” Germany’s had some ridiculous cowboy thing going on. And Finland’s was a metal band all dressed up in monstrous costumes.

The cool thing is, everyone can vote from his/her mobile phone. Kostia voted for Lithuania. I, however, voted for a winner for the first time in my life — Finland! They won by an incredible margin, proving that the contest is a big joke. And also proving that Finland rules.

Speaking of Scandinavia, and speaking of not being tricked into staying in St. Petersburg forever, Kostia and I are a few steps closer to our dream of living in Sweden: we’ve been admitted to several master’s programs, have chosen which ones we like, and prepared our applications for residence permits. If we get them, we’ll go mid-August and spend a year there. Super exciting, though right now it seems crazy to leave St. Petersburg…