Monday, January 10, 2011

From Russia With Awesomeness

I finished my syllabi/syllabuses/silly buses this morning! Yay!

I actually finished them last night…sort of. Since our internet was down (again; curse you Comcast!) I couldn’t email them from home. So I went to campus this morning and took a last look at them before emailing… and then an hour or two later I finished the final tweaks and finally sent them off. You know how it goes...

Afterward, I celebrated by hanging out with some amazing Russian exchange students! Really I just happened to see signs for the welcoming event a few minutes beforehand, and I’ve always been interested in Russian history and culture, especially after my cousin spent several years there, so I decided to drop by. Plus there was free food. 

It was a really, really excellent event, one of the best I've attended on campus. It started with an interesting panel and continued with plenty of mingling and chatting. Some things I learned from our visitors:

-- The majority of Russian students attend university at little to no cost. Only those with especially low entry test scores must pay any tuition, and dorms cost the equivalent of only $10 per month. Sounds like an excellent system to me.

-- Children expect to take in their parents when they get older, in fact that responsibility is written into law and nursing homes are very uncommon and stigmatized. 
--Regardless of whether or not they actually retire then, Russians automatically start to receive a pension when women turn 55 and men turn 60 (an interesting gender difference). But the amount is too small to be much help, and since the life expectancy for men is under 65, they’re not likely to benefit for very long anyway. And they're currently discussing raising the pension age. 

-- Even though the government preaches innovation and diversification, and even though fields like engineering are slowly regaining popularity, the truth is that most people still want to get a job in oil because the benefits are better than anywhere else. 

--The Russian people also thought that Putin was a bit too pugnacious, and most are happier with his replacement. 

-- Religion (and expressing one’s beliefs publicly) is regaining strength. Confusing the movement a bit is the fact that some of the most outwardly religious individuals are those in the Mafia. They would have a lot to confess, I suppose…
-- American food portions seem obscenely large compared to what they are used to eating in Russia. OH WAIT, I guess that applies to anyone who is not an American. (Sigh, childhood obesity culture, sigh.)

-- The majority of Russian films are American made but dubbed.  

--I really want to host a Russian exchange student. One more reason I need a real house. (Seriously though, I really liked all of them and am so glad I got to meet them.)

As an added bonus, I met a local woman who loves literature and cycling and who offered to teach me some Russian – three aspects of awesomeness in one random new acquaintance! Exclamation points!!

Unfortunately I couldn't join the group for any more events because I had to leave for a shift at the tutoring center, but even that worked out well. I had two hours with my favorite new SAT student and then I got to leave early when my second student didn’t show. So I had plenty of time to enjoy dinner and house buying shows with my husband, and to feel like a financial genius compared to the couple who made an offer on a house before talking to a loan officer. (Seriously guys?)

And tomorrow, assuming the internets keep behaving, I will announce an exciting new challenge that I’m undertaking (and you know how I feel about announcing challenges so that I feel pressured to actually complete them... hint: very excited!)

Ahhh, how I love good days.... and I hope yours was just as enjoyable!

1 comment:

  1. It's true that we learn a thing or two every day. Thanks for sharing the interesting facts. I learned a lot.

    By the way, I work for Comcast. Sorry for the trouble. If you need further assistance, let me know. I will be happy to help.

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations