Sunday, 11 September 2011

Episode 8: The cat, the classroom and the caviar...

'Cos nothing says good morning like a spoonful of fish eggs! Or that's what I thought when I awoke last Sunday to a giant bowl of porridge and a jar of caviar. Certainly not going to go hungry in this country as they are overfeeding me like an ageing house-pet! No matter how carefully I word my responses to "But you have eaten nothing!" I always seem to be a subject of concern to my lovely hostess Valya.

One of our teachers at the uni described Russian attitudes to students as being a little backwards and I think I know what he means. I don't exactly feel patronised, but the level of care and grandmothering that people of my age face in Russia is something from a gone-by era in the UK. We're told to wrap up warm, to eat plenty of food and to look both ways when crossing the road. I know students are dopey but we're also fiercly, hormonally-proud creatures...

Anyway much to my joy, when my hostess returned from a late-summer trip to her dacha, she brought with her a cat!!! Anyone regularly reading fromrussiawithrob not only deserves to be bought a drink, but also will know that one of my main questions when heading to Rus would be whether Russians are the cat lovers I thought they were. Well I was right! And I now occupy a diddy flat with Valya, an old man who I barely understand and Lapsya/Lapsa I little-bitty-kitty, ginger in colour and Persian (I think). 

Alright, sillyness out of my system it's time to blog properly! I'm attending classes at Petrozavodsk State University and I have a few first impressions and comparisons with English univeristy to share. Firstly, boy does everyone look young! Before you say it, yes I don't exactly look my age all the time. In fact, if I shave, I have trouble buying Die Hard on DVD, but my point here is that Russian university resembles a large sixth form college. A bell rings inbetween lessons. Students are taught in classrooms. There is an assembly hall, one cafeteria and no discernable bar!! It's a little strange, but twice I've called it school entirely be accident. Many of the students start here at 17.

Instead of freshers' week there is an upcoming "Day of the First Years", which involves some kind of choral sing-along and festivities. Everything in comparison to our first-week-of-uni debauchery seems madly innocent here. I'm certainly not reevaluating my philiosophy, i'd still pick freshers flu, losing my voice and regretful kisses over feeling nannyed any day, but it begs the question as to which system produces the better young people? Do we grow up too fast in the UK? or does Russian university serisouly lack some rock n roll?

1 comment:

  1. And are we more mature folk "older and wiser"? Or do you see us as "behind the times"? Good to dwell on everything you see and hear. And indeed - who produces the most successful students? What is the criteria of success? So many questions, so little time! Rock on Valya! From your dear aunt Penny!