I have safely arrived in Kirov! It was a pretty crazy journey to get here. First, I went to orientation in Long Island University in New York. I got a lot of information from past participants from last year. It was really interesting to hear about their trip and what sort of advice they had for our group. After two days of orientation, the 15 of us got on a plane headed to Moscow! There were some really bad storms in NY so our flight sat on the runway for around 4 hours before they let us deplane. Our flight was supposed to take off at 4:10 PM and we ended up leaving at around 2 AM the next day. There were other problems other than weather and some luggage got misplaced, but we eventually got there! After arriving in Moscow at 8 PM (we were supposed to arrive at 10 AM and tour around the city all day) we had to sprint to the train station in order to make the 10 PM train to Kirov. We took a train from Moscow to the subway, then sprinted to the station that our train was departing from. There were too many flights of stairs that we had to lug our stuff over to count! We were really lucky that our train was running late because we wouldn't have made it otherwise.
It was a huge relief to make our train even though we had to give up a day in Moscow. We won't have to be behind on our language learning at all! After spending 14 hours on the final leg to Kirov, we finally arrived! We were greeted by our two teachers for the summer, Larisa and Anna. They are very nice and friendly. They took us back to the youth hostel were we will be staying for the next 3 weeks. The rooms are actually quite nice and the location is prefect and right downtown.
Once we got to the hostel and had lunch, Anna told us about all of the activities that we are going to be doing this summer. We are going to a ballet, historic Slobodskoy, matryoshka factory, summer camps for little kids, and lots of other fun adventures! We are going to be staying at the hostel for 3 weeks, then living with our host families for the last two weeks. A lovely surprise was that we are going to Kazan for three days at the end of our trip! From there we will all go to Moscow then back home.
Today was the first language lesson with out teachers, Anna and Larisa. It was mostly just the alphabet and simple greetings, so a lot of review for me. I still learned a couple new phrases! School goes from around 9 to 1 with two hours with each teacher.
At lunch, we met the Russian students that are going to be studying at the school at the same time as us in the English program. They are all very pleasant and it was fun to get to know them. We eat all of our meals together and have time after activities to socialize and get to know each other. There will be three groups that come throughout our time in the hostel and each group stays for one week.
We also go on excursions every evening. Today we went on a bus tour of Kirov and saw lots of historical landmarks. It was really neat to see and I saw lots of places I had never explored before.
Overall, this trip has been pretty exhausting, but worth it! I am really looking forward to the coming weeks at school and meeting my host family!