And other misadventures of things that have gone wrong so far. Mostly compiled for my amusement and to ground/disabuse me when I look back with that glossy shine of ‘I was so pro at Russia…’ months or years after I have left.
In chronological order.
Chapter one: The metro decides Lisa is a good boxing target
In every metro there is some sort of barrier system that is designed to keep you from travelling without paying. In London you have the oyster where you swipe in and out, in Russia they maintain only one barrier- the entrance- which is looks like no barrier at all. As the unsuspecting victim of this story found out, however, walking between the metal boxes without paying comes with a certain risk.
The gates are open constantly, which convinced young, naive Lisa, that this was an honour-based system. She confidently swiped her card past the reader, and marched through the barriers– to be attacked on the way through from both sides as hidden gates came crashing towards each other with incredible force and a cheerful tune, seemingly shouting ‘ha! gotcha!’
She was baffled. this hadn’t happened before- what did this mean? And man, her legs hurt from the impact. Standing on the other side, she turned to look, completely baffled, to find a police woman giving her an impassive stare. She expected something to happen… and waited… and waited…
Finally deciding that there were no consequences (she had tried to swipe after all, and there was credit on the card…) she continued onto the train. The pain in her legs and the shock and surprise stayed with her, though, for several stops.
Chapter two: Communication issues with the Washing machine
I pride myself at being very independent, and having learned how to handle living on my own at a very early age. So I had no concerns about how I was going to survive at the dorms, at least not logistically- concerns were emotional, due to living in close quarters and *shudder* sharing. Yet about two weeks in, when I started running out of clean clothes and my sweaty running clothes were making the entire room smell, I learned that washing machines in Russia speak Russian.
Which is a real problem when your Russian is limited to telling people about your favourite films, that the trees are turning yellow, and that Putin has built several large houses near Sochi. I had basically no vocabulary for food and household items- how was I going to navigate ‘soft cycle’, ‘cottons’, ‘delicates’, ‘spin cycle’…
The problem was solved by pushing a variety of buttons and hoping it would work.
3 hours and a lot of frustration later, I learned that it did not- my wash had been completed (water had been pumped through, some of the clothes were wet), but the machine was broken and failed to spin, basically just soaking some clothes and doing nothing to the others. Useful.
Thankfully there are such things as model codes and user guides and the Internet is a helpful resource. Half an hour later and I had a complete user guide to the washing machine type, in English. (Course-mates, if you want a look, hit me up). I now speak washing machine Russian and have clean clothes.
Chapter three: The embarrassing post -episode
Cough- yes. I feel that this has already been addressed in previous posts, where I first received my parcel, and in one of the more recent- when I realised that the post office man continued to give me notes because I was incapable of filling it out correctly.
Chapter four: ‘Help my bed is trying to eat me!’
This happened just yesterday. Although I found that the beds here are moderately comfortable, I have recently noted more and more frequently that I am in a really big dip – a valley in my bed. Past week Lisa tried to solve the problem by turning the mattress, which helped to an extent, but yesterday I finally realised what was going on.
Unusually, I curled up towards the edge of my bed, seeking the security of the wall. As I did this, I sank frighteningly far towards the floor, past the frame, as my bed tried to eat me.
Jumping from the bed, removing the mattress, and taking a closer look at the chain-link construction underneath (sorry I don’t know the actual term), I discovered that there were several places where small hooks were meant to connect the metal grid to the frame of the bed, which were empty.
Pliers, help from next door, and some minutes later I had ‘solved’ the issue by spreading out the connectors more equally around the bed. But the mystery remains– where are the connectors? Why were they all missing from one side?
And: How did I not notice before?