Боже мой.

Moscow proved to be everything we expected. It is a city that never sleeps, never stops drinking and never, ever lets pedestrians cross the road. It is bloody mental. Whilst we were there (2 days, 2 nights) we saw four car crashes and a drunkard get run over. Nearly every road has over six lanes, and cars (mainly the Oligarchi) drive at insanely high speeds. Our two nights spent there were very different: the first was a crazy night out at ‘Propaganda’, a deep-house underground club that only served double shots, we got to bed at 10am. No surprises, the next day was spent part nursing the hangover in Gorky Park and part dreading the internal Russian flight to Tyumen…

Much to our amazement (disappointment?) the flight was better than most short-haul European flights.

We had arranged to meet ‘Dmitri’, the head of international students for the University , at arrivals in Tyumen. We arrived, we waited. And waited. After 45mins we managed to find his number and rang him- it turns out that he had ‘forgotten we were arriving’. Not only were we arriving but we didn’t have a clue where we were or where we were going. A great start…

My first impression of Tyumen was pretty much what I had expected: the majority of buildings are deeply average, some are very modern for the 1990’s and some are literally wooden shacks with corrugated iron roofs (just think Borat.) The shops here are all very similar- on every street, without fail, is a supermarket, a chemist and a shoe shop. All very strange.

Our accomodation is the best available and yet, in our initial room, the taps either didn’t work or wouldn’t turn off, the bed mattresses would have been considered moderately comfortable when Stalin died, and the shower (calling it that is quite the compliment- a tin box on legs is more appropriate) is a surprisingly difficult balancing act at 8 in the morning. After 6 nights in the ‘luxury rooms’ we moved into nicer rooms with fluent Russian speakers: Iona is with ‘Ninja’ from Mongolia, Charlie is with Mohammed from Chechnya (LOL) and I am with H.

Our Russian, however, is progressing nicely, helped by some very enthusiatic conversations with bonkers Ruski’s on the street/ in shops/ in the accomodation. On the plane to Tyumen I read the latest Russian FHM and learnt a number of incrdibly useful words (naked, worthless, trench coat, loo seat and ROFL- sadly yet to use any of them in conversation).

Charlie and I have set each other the challenge of getting a Russian girlfriend (Elena, our lecturer in Bristol, said that it is the best way to learn), I will be updating this challenge on the blog as it progresses. So far?…Not so good. The girls here are very hot indeed, however until we start our lectures getting to meet them is proving difficult. Tonight may help though- it’s our first night out in Tyumen. All very excited to see what the Big T has to offer but after a few people have asked ‘Are you not scared?’ we’re a bit more apprehensive than we would normally for a night out…

I still don’t have internet here properly (Russian bureaucracy) but it will hopefully be sorted soon so I can Skype everyone (Hi mum) and start putting pictures up.

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