Sorry it's been so long since I've blogged!! It's hard to find a time that I can actually sit and write a whole post. A lot has happened since I last blogged. We have gone on lots of excursions that have been really fun! We went to a ballet, Cinderella. That was really neat and the dancers were really talented. We also went to Slobodskoy to tour the Bakulev museum and look at the churchs in the center of the town. It was really cool to see the town without all the snow and return to the Bakulev museum. I also got the change to see Misha in Slobodskoy. We almost got to go the orphanage, but we didn't have enough time and didn't have the right permission to take everyone. It was tough to be so close to the orphanage but not visit. Hopefully I will be able to work out visiting when I'm with my host family. Saturday of the first week was really rainy, so our boat trip was rescheduled. We went to watch the movie "Pay It Forward" at our teacher Anna's school. It was really good, even though it was pretty sad. The message they were trying to tell us was that we should all try to make a difference and even young people can make one. On Sunday we went to Camp Luch. It's a summer camp for young kids that they attend for around 2 weeks. They range in ages from 8 to around 17. We played games with them and attempted to communicate with our limited knowledge of Russian. I was with the youngest group of kids and it was really interesting to talk with them. It was a good time!
Last week we went on some more fun excursions. We went to a matryoshka factory and watched the whole process of making matryoshkas. It's amazing how much work goes into making them. They have professional artists come and paint the dolls. I loved all of the colors and designs that were on them. The next day we introduced ourselves to the new Russians that arrived. They all were really nice, though a little quiet at first. The next day we went to a diorama museum and to an amusement park. The museum was really interesting and the diorama was so realistic. I also got to see where the diorama is now and it was really realistic in the painting. The attraction park was also fun. We went on a ferris wheel and some pretty sketchy rides. They didn't buckle all the way and wouldn't have really passed any inspections. We were all okay though and didn't go on any of the super dangerous rides. It was also the 4th of July so we taught the Russians about our traditions and tried of celebrate a little. There was a flash flood so it was pretty hard, but it was still fun! We went to the Dymkovo toy factory the next day. We made little clay figures and are going back to paint them sometime soon. I made a duck with my clay! The next day we had a "Russian customs and traditions workshop". We all acted out fairy tales that were in both Russian and English. My group acted out little red riding hood. The next day we had some Russian women come teach us about ancient Russian traditions. We played games and sang songs. It was fun to see all of their history and culture and I enjoyed it a lot! Later that day we said goodbye to the Russians and went to camp Luch for the day. One of the girls I really liked from the previous week wasn't there, but it was nice to see other familiar faces. We went through stations of games with the kids and had a disco as our parting ceremony. The next day we memorized some Russian songs in the morning and then went on a boat tour of the Vyatka river. The boat tour was really neat and the weather was perfect for it.
This week, we started out with going to a bread factory just down the street from the youth hostel. You can smell the fresh bread cooking from the street and it smells amazing. We got to see them making marshmallows, bread, chocolates, and other sweets. The large quantities that they were making really amazed me. On Tuesday we got acquainted with the new Russians that came. They all seem really nice and we got to see their presentations about their home towns. It was really interesting! Today we went on a quest around the city. We took pictures and videos all around Kirov. I think we walked close to 10 miles and saw lots of new places. We had a theme that we had to follow and put together a story about when we got back to the hostel. Our theme was drama and it ended up having a lot of our characters dying.... It was pretty interesting and funny.
Classes have gotten much harder and we have got to some of the things that I found difficult on my online class. I have grammar with Anna first and we are starting understand the cases more and more. We have worked our way though a 27 page grammar packet and I have lots of useful tools to take home with me. After a little break in between classes, I go to Larisa for two hours. She focuses on pronunciation and speaking. We practice a lot of listening and talking in that class. It can be pretty intimidating at times.
Tomorrow is our last day of classes! Time has really flown by and I'm actually sad to be leaving the hostel. This weekend, we are going to another summer camp for kids closer to our ages called "Trampleen". We are going to be sleeping in tents and just playing games and relaxing with the kids. After the camp ends on Sunday for us, our host families are going to pick us up and take us home to live with them. I have met my host sister and she seems great! I'm really excited to experience Russia with her. We still have classes for some amount of time while we are with our host families, but it isn't clear how long. It may be around 4 hours each day. I wish we could just spend time with our host families, but it's okay! It will still be fun. I also will be visiting Slobodskoy again with some of our amazing translators from previous years to visit the orphanage next weekend. Galina, the director, is going to come pick me up next Friday morning and I will be spending the night in Slobodskoy. I'm very excited to see the kids again! We leave our host families on the 29th for Kazan and will spend two days there. From Kazan, we travel to Moscow, spend the night, then leave for the US. I think I will have Internet access at my host sisters house so I will try to continue to blog and keep in touch. Also, sorry about any typos, I typed this on my iPad.