Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thoughts on Cultural Exchange

The level of cultural exchange that has occurred among the students has been incredible! While at Kuchak, we had the opportunity to really get to know other students.  We had students finding any common language they could: some Americans using German to speak with Russian students if both had studied it in school, some using Russian, others English, and some using me as an interpreter between English and Russian.  We had a fantastic game of volleyball, with Russians versus Americans.  The Russian students won the first round and the Americans the second.  We wondered if we should leave it at that for friendship's sake, but decided to play a third anyway.  The Russians ended up taking the third match, and we all had a great time!  We even went down the line and congratulated all of the players.  One of the Russian students then introduced us to the Russian banya, which is like a sauna.  This was a great cultural experience for all involved, as we got to try something very Russian.  We then took back to the cabins for some card playing, with the Russians teaching the American students "fool," a card game that is very popular here.  The students from Indiana then taught the Russian students how to play Eucher (unsure of spelling here), a card game that is played a lot in Indiana.  Though some of this took place with an interpreter present, much of it did not, and the students were very creative with explaining difficult rules to speakers of other languages.  Instead of playing cards after the first few rounds, I decided to talk to some of the students who weren't playing.  We started with a group of three of us in the hall chatting, but by the end of the conversation, we had attracted quite a few interested students, and our numbers swelled to 8-10.  They were asking me questions about our culture, our educational system, and even our political system, and then I would ask them questions, and we would talk about the similarities and differences.  It was amazing to get to know the students better, and to hear their impressions of us, and to share all of the things that we have enjoyed about being in Russia.  The relationships that have been built reaffirm to me the importance of cultural exchange, study abroad, and language learning.  I have seen how the students on both sides have become more motivated to learn each other's language in order to communicate better.  I have heard several students comment on how wonderful it has been to meet other people in their field who are studying much the same questions as they are.  We look forward to contuing to build these relationships when we return home.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Russia on My Mind

I have had insomnia for days (meaning as soon as I wake up in the night, I can't fall back asleep, so I do get some sleep, just not as much as I'd like), and I woke up at 4:00 am.  After trying unsuccessfully to sleep, I decided to be ridiculous and ask Tyler if he wanted to wake up and bleach my hair, because who doesn't want to do that at 4:20 am?  So here we are, putting foils in my hair, hoping it'll process before I have to leave and catch my shuttle to the airport. Did I mention we're using a pinwheel because we couldn't find a comb?

I am really excited to be going back to Russia, but I'm nervous in a way I haven't experienced yet.  I always miss my family when I'm gone, but it's different now that I have a child.  I have dreaded leaving Liv ever since I was accepted to the program.  I'm so torn between wanting to go to Russia and wanting to just stay and hang out with her.  Luckily, she is excited that she is going on a trip of her own to grandma and grandpa's, and she can't wait to see her cousins!  I think the separation will be harder on me than on her.  I'm also sad to be leaving Tyler, and this will be the longest that we've been apart since we got married.

The good news: I'm going to Russia!  And people want to go to the banya!!! Already a very promising adventure :)  The other students seem like they will be so much fun to get to know better, and they are up for exploring, so I'm very happy!  I also get to visit Moscow on Saturday and see some friends from when I lived there.  It makes me so nostalgic for my summer there in 2009.  That was one of the happiest times in my life, and it will be weird to go back without some of the people that made it so unforgettable (Acia, Eli, and Tyler to be precise).

Here's to more great memories.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Earlier today I said something along the lines of, "I don't know what I'm doing with my life," and Liv said, "No, it's MY life!" which pretty much sums up why I don't really know. 

She also asked me today if I am writing about doubling in books, which made me realize she's doomed to be a literature major some day. 

We went for a walk yesterday, and Liv saw a guy running past without his shirt on.  She said, "That boy is naked!  Why is that boy naked?"

The other day, she told me I needed to get out of bed so we could go to the florist.  I wondered if she knew what that meant, so I asked her what we would get there, and she told me she wanted blue flowers. Then she brought me a pretend blue flower later.

Liv has really been into dancing and coloring the last few days.  She is really getting her coloring down.  Before, it was just scribbles, but now it is more controlled lines that she can draw.  She's also really fun to dance with.  She has some good moves!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Liv just put me in timeout and told me I couldn't write my paper.  This prompted me to write down a few of my favorite things she says now.  There have been so many since I last posted that I will never be able to remember, so I thought I could at least put down the ones that come to mind.

She usually calls me "mommy," but often refers to me as "Mommy Kimberly" or just "Kimberly" especially when we are dropping her off at the babysitters.  I also get "Mommy Domino."  Domino is a horse.  The first name status also extends to Tyler, who is referred to as "Daddy Tyler," "Tyler," or, my favorite, "Tyler Madsen." 

Liv told me today, "I love you forever, mommy." She also told me today, "I like your pretty hair."

Last week when we woke up, she asked me, "Remember me?  Do you remember my name?"  I told her, "Your name is Liv!"  She answered, "Yep, that's right."  She says, "Yes, that's right" fairly often, and in such a matter-of-fact tone. 

Today she said, "I like triangles. They're awesome." 

She is SOOOOO excited to go to preschool.  One day she was so excited that she went out the front door and took off across the parking lot "to go to preschool."  I caught up with her and we went on a walk clear up to the high school.  I still wonder where exactly she thought preschool was that day.  Now she knows that her preschool is over at BUGS, and that she gets to go in the fall.  She gets to do "play gymnastics and soccer."  She asks everyday if she can go to preschool!

She also told me once that she couldn't go to Lydia's because she needed to stay and work on her computer.  She also will say, "Bye, mom.  I'm going to class!"  After a conference I went to on religion in Eastern Europe, she and Tyler came to get me.  Since then, she's asked I am going to conference, if I'm done with my conference, and if she is coming to get me from my conference. 

We've also been teaching her Russian phrases, and she is doing so great with them!

She sings all of the time and loves dancing around the room.