When I walked through the security gate to the Academy this morning, I was bombarded with bright lights, music, and tall Russian models passing out flyers about various pharmaceutical and medical companies. Construction crews have been building temporary walls and booths since last Friday. Seeing the event in full swing just a few days later was impressive.
Since I was slightly late for my first class, Economic Policy and Reform in Modern Russia, I put on my best gloomy-Russian countenance and speed-walked through the career
My professor for Economic Reform and Economic Policy in Modern Russia is the Director of the Academy; he is also a high-up official in the Russian government and serves as some form of economic advisor to the Russian President. Fortunately for me, he was running late today also. His secretary offered us coffee while we waited.
Taking a class with a professor at the forefront of Russia's economic policy will be an incredible experience. In my other class, we discuss the history the Russian economy and the unique Russian psychological culture surrounding economics. We talk about what should be done in order for Russia to "catch up." Speaking about issues, however, is much easier than actually fixing them. In my Economic Reform and Economic Policy class, I will have the opportunity to witness Russian economic policy making firsthand and see just how difficult it is to stimulate the necessary changes in Russian economic practices.
In other news, my stomach is doing better today. My host mom kindly prepared everything for me without any salt, or any other seasonings. It was a little bland, but I'll take it. At dinner tonight, I tried to explain to her how I'm not used to eating certain things, like pasta, bread, or cheese, because at home, I eat mostly vegetables, fish, chicken, beans, nuts, and fruit, but that I like trying things when I travel. I'm afraid she got offended, though. She started blustering around the kitchen and asking what vegetables I eat? How do I cook them? "You no eat onion! I see you no eat onion today!" "Why you eat no bread? In Italy, they thin and they eat pasta and bread!" She speaks a little English, which is sadly more than my little bit of Russian.
I tried to explain to her that it's not about being thin, but about doing what makes my body feel good. I fear that the meaning got bit a lost in translation. "Why you eat so strange? You eat only vegetables. Is strange. You no eat meat, you no eat bread, you no eat pizza! Tell me why you eat so strange!" Since we were on the topic and I was already in too far to leave it with a simple мне не нравится (I don't like it), I tried to tell her about the nutritional links to diseases such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and arthritis; and that these diseases are in my family history. She said that she eats meat and her mind works fine. She said that at one time she was scared of слабоумие (dimentia) too and didn't eat anything but fish, but that she didn't like it and she is just the same as all her friends who eat only fish. "Igor, he work all day. He think all day. He eat meat! He eat pasta!"
I tried to change the subject. This wasn't going well. She kept asking me what vegetables I eat. I tried to hint that vinaigrette, one of my absolute favorite Russian dishes, would be quite delicious. I said I loved beets, carrots, etc. Then, I failed at explaining how I try to eat with the seasons and that sometimes I don't cook vegetables. She looked skeptical. "ты знаешь шпинат? (Do you know spinach?)" I asked. "что?" (What?) she said.
On the one hand, I feel terrible for brining up the topic; on the other, I feel great because my stomach doesn't hurt. Though, I really hope she doesn't stop giving me some Russian dishes to try. I've just had a rough few days, but I do like trying different cuisines. When else will I have the opportunity to eat an authentic, homemade Pirozhki?
я смутьяна и она добрая. My host mom quizzes me every morning on my vocabulary and wishes me good luck before I go off to school each day. She cleans my room, makes me breakfast and dinner, washes my clothes, boils my water, leaves me fresh fruit to snack on, and remakes my bed to a lump-less surface everyday.
I will buy her flowers tomorrow.
Я куплю ей цветы завтра.