Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Novosibirsk November 10, 2008

Novosibirsk November 10, 2008

It’s 8:15 am. I am to meet Ian at 9:30 and get some administrative stuff done. I want to wander a bit before that. I especially want to go to La Chocolat, the place Luc told me about. Ian referred to it as the Travelers’ Café (they are actually different).

It snowed a little last night, and it is snowing again. When I awoke at 7, it was totally dark out. It’s now much lighter and you can really see the snow falling.

First impressions are lasting, but not indelible. Arriving in a totally foreign environment at dark gives you no sense of the place other than foreboding. In the light of day, you appreciate more. Some good, some not so good. On the minus side, I’m glad I brought those Charmin To Go Toilet Seat Covers. On the plus side, this will be fascinating.

7:20 PM

The first item on the agenda today was to meet with Ian and register with the University. Walking though the peaceful snowfall, I only managed to slip four times, but never fell.

Ian met me at the entrance and we went to the registration office, where they took my passport and gave me an ID card. You apparently need it to get around, if they check you. This was accomplished rather quickly, after which we went to Ian’s office just to see where I would need to go if I have any problems. He then took me over to the Economics Department, where I will be teaching. He had already made arrangements with Almira to meet with me at 11:30, so I was shown where the computer lab is, which allowed me to use the internet for an hour and read and catch up on emails.

At 11:30, Almira met me and we walked to the Economics Department lounge area for a planning meeting. She told me that we would have our first meeting with the students at 4:00 pm Tuesday (tomorrow). She didn’t know how many students there will be, or what year they would be in. Most students are in four year programs. The law students are in five year programs. I asked her if she thought the students had read the materials beforehand, and like so many of us know, they usually don’t. I told her that we would definitely need them to read the fact pattern and the jury instructions. We also need at least 19 students, 10 to play lawyers, 6 to play jurors, and 3 to play witnesses. She posted the course outline in two places in the department, and told her students about the class. That is about it in terms of advance publicity. We shall see.

Almira also mentioned some outside activities that I might be interested in, such as the Minerals Museum. I mentioned to her that I saw that there was a jazz concert Sunday night at the House of the Scientists and she said she would look into getting tickets. She also inquired about the opera in Novosibirsk and I said I’d be interested. We talked about the various ways to get into the city, taxi being the most reliable but also the most expensive. She is experienced in hosting foreign lecturers, so she will be very helpful in making things a bit easier. Although I don’t want things to be too easy, since part of the adventure is the struggle.

Almira and I walked through the snow down Ilyicha Street, one of two main streets, and then down Morskoy Prospekt, the other one. I found La Chocolat, the place Luc favored, and decided to get lunch and a coffee there. They were very nice, and I tried out some of my Russian, aided by the application I downloaded which audibly repeats the phrase, with the anglicized spelling under the Russian spelling. Snickers behind my back, I’m sure, but I’m trying. I’ll try to get Luc to email me a picture of him to see if the ladies there will remember him (he’s sure of it).
Ian wanted to meet up again at 2:30, which we did, and went to the computer office to get hooked up to the internet. All this stuff about IP addresses, masks, gateways and DNS something or other. I was sure it wasn’t going to work, and it isn’t. I’m going to have the same problem Paul had when he was here. Life without the internet, oh my.

Time to walk back to the flat, stopping at the trade center and market for a few items, such as a towel (Ian had arranged for a towel tomorrow, but I don’t like using dirty t-shirts to dry off with after a shower).

Shortly after arriving back at the flat, the electrician came to hook up the new stove and washing machine. He was still at it when Benedict suggested we go to the internet café around the bend. It’s downstairs from a restaurant, and you just plug in, order a tea, and you’re online. Benedict introduced me to his American friend, Ben, from LSU. Ben is also studying Russian, and teaching English. He spent a year in Germany before coming here. So we spent some time on the internet and chatting away, introducing ourselves to each other. They graciously invited me to accompany them to the city (we are 30 km away), and to dinner after Ben taught his class. The gazpacho had no meat in it, I’m sure, but it certainly looked like it. Both Benedict and Ben have the same view of Akademgorodok: way out in the middle of nowhere, but a great place to learn.

I took the opportunity to Skype with Leslie and caught up, basically telling her that this was going be much different than Lithuania and Ukraine. But you know what, I asked for it, didn’t I?

1 comment:

Luc said...


Sounds like your having a blast. I sure hope the ladies at La Chocolat will remember me (it hasn't been that long). Also, be sure to look for my friends in there, they all speak very good English. :) If you would see anybody, I'm sure it would be Simon (on the far right).