‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things I'm Getting Used To

I hope I'm not coming across as an American snob in these posts. I do love many things about Russia, and will always have a special place in my heart for her, because she is part of my daughter. But being in an environment that is soooo different from what I'm used to is difficult and fascinating at once. I don't want to seem like I am judging this place, but only comparing. We're used to what we're used to, right?

So here is my growing list of what I am slowly getting used to here in Siberia.  Some of it may seem like no big deal, but it is when you are thousands of miles away from home, ever little thing takes getting used to!

1. cold showers
2. brown faucet water
3. Wearing clothes until they are stiff with dirt (socks, especially!)
4. The sound of a hundred high heel shoes walking to the bus stop at 7am...click, click, click
5. Being freezing outside and sweating like you're in a sauna inside.
6. Not seeing people smile
7. Getting yelled at. Alot.
8. Taking my life into my hands when I cross the street.
9. NO personal space. ANYWHERE.
10. canned food.
11. walking everywhere (this is a GOOD thing!)
12. homeless people and beggars at every turn.
13. Washing soot off my face every night.

What I am NOT getting used to and probably never will:

1. Indoor smoking. I despise it like nothing else in the world.
2. emaciated homeless dogs....often travelling in packs in the park.
3. Coughing up brown mucus from the pollution here.

Tonight we move into our new ultra-modern-retro apt. Wish us luck getting our bags up 8 flights of stairs. I budgeted an extra hour for getting up there! I'll post photos of our place as soon as I can. Don't know when we'll have internet access there. There's no telling when you are relying on a Russian technician!

I'll leave you with Nastia's favorite photo, which she took in Prokopyevsk. it is a few cows waiting at a bus stop. Believe it or not, it's a common sight. I guess everyone wants to get out of the village once in a while...


  1. Oh, the memories this brings! Even though we were in western Ukraine, almost to Poland (so close that where we were was actually part of Poland until WWII), so much of what you wrote is still part of the culture there. I'm sure it has something to do with Ukraine being a former soviet country.

    There were no dryers in Ukraine, which meant that EVERYTHING was line dried all year long (that is the case no matter where you are, even in Kyiv.) It took forever for our jeans to get dry, forever as in many many days, even in the summer, especially when it was raining for several days in a row. We ended up staying in a pretty posh hotel the whole time we were there as that was the only rental place availale. They had some hot water heated towel bars in the bathroom which helped, but there wasn't a whole lot of real estate there! Are there any dryers in Russia?

  2. We washed clothes in the tub and line dried them while in Russia...I heard the other appartment where parents stayed had a washer...don't remember hearing about a dryer though. After I first picked up Jupiter, I had to plan clothes washing so the clothes would be dry before we packed to travel to Moscow. So basically, I had to wear my pair of jeans for a week without washing them.

    I "compared" too a lot while I was there...so I feel better knowing it wasn't just me!

  3. This brings back lots of memories for me as well, our daughters are from the very eastern edge of Ukraine. I handled the "lack of" and conditions better than my husband.
    Our biggest struggles were
    lack of bathrooms (seriously, I could write a horror novel on this one alone!)
    lack of fresh drinking water. I still cannot drink mineral water - the memories are too strong. We even brushed our teeth with listerine as the tap water was so polluted.
    Not sure of the availablitiy for you, but I did find a westernized market in Kyiv, they had dannon yogurt and fresh bottled drinking water. I had to buy a member card to go in there but it was worth it - hopefully you can find something similar.
    Take care - peace Lynn

  4. I don't actually have anything to say to that as I sit here in my American house, but I know you like getting comments. I just can't imagine this life. You are a strong woman!

    Hugs and prayers,
    Mary in TX

  5. It sounds like things are pretty different from here. How are your girls doing?

  6. I look forward to your post everyday. Have two sons we brought home from Cheboksary a little over 2 yrs ago - now both 16 - best friends - both in orphanage from age 11-14. Tough with two, no need to embrace family, definitely no need to be parented, own ideas on acceptable tv, video games, internet, hence no access or very tight controls, sigh! We've raised 3 sons, all married with children - looked forward to getting back into sports, camping, teenagers around all the time - hah - so creative, fun, funny, talented, sweet - such poor choices. What God has called us to, He will equip. Our time in Russia - we stayed in people's homes so hot showers, good food, flush toilets - no dryers, limited access to washers - what? you only wore that 3 times?! Out visiting - what's with the no toilet seats or paper? Their ice cream was the best. Praying for you - so praying for you! Can't imagine the range of emotions the girls are experiencing - looking forward to updates about Dasha - Lord, keep them all close!

  7. Good luck moving! That's never fun, much less in a foreign country.

    You don't know me, but I read your blog daily.....You and your girls are in my prayers, especially Anya.

  8. I know totally how you feel. We were in the same hotel, street, city you are in back in July. We brought our daughter home to the United States on July 27th. We were in Russia for 5 weeks and that seem forever, lol. I have to say the high heels thing made me laugh! I so remember. Have a great journey.

  9. I had almost forgotten how polluted the air seemed to me when I was in Saratov, Russia. It was summertime then, and it brought back memories of childhood as far as the smells of car exhaust pre-pollution control emissions stuff in the US.

    And nearly getting run over every time I set foot to cross the street! Yes! And I kept nearly falling into open manhole covers too.

    I'd suggest a Neti pot for cleaning out your sinuses (nasal lavage), but you'd have to have clean water to use for that, so there you go, a catch-22 again.

    And you really do just have to be there to really get the difference about how much Americans smile in comparison to how much Russians smile - Russians just don't do that at all unless they're with family & close friends in private. I know when I was travelling in Russia to adopt my daughter, I could tell if a stranger on the elevator of the hotel was American or not by whether they acknowledged my existence in any way whatsoever, a glance, a tip of the head, a smile, anything.

    I hope today's a good day and y'all are enjoying the new apartment. I hope you can keep looking for something more affordable to fix up for Anya to live in after you have to leave.

    Big hugs and I wish I could magically make a jar of peanut butter appear there right now!

  10. I'm just checking in to send you some emotional support. Know there are many people rooting for your family. Best wishes.

  11. You dont sound stuck up, You sound homesick and like you adjusting to dramatically different culture and environment.

    ((hugs)) happy move in day!

  12. Now, when I lived in Idaho the water was rust red the entire time - turned the tub red, the sink red, the clothes I washed red. Quite something.

    The thing I really don't think I could get used to is that apartment!!! Even indoor smoking might be easier to handle.

  13. Oh - I had a hard time getting used to only being given coffee or tea AFTER a meal - including breakfast.


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