There is not much to report here. We’ve been continuing our course with a routine of waking, sleeping, and eating. This class continues to be interesting, and I hope once we lay the groundwork we will get more interaction with our two cultures. One of the differences is the vacuum left from the Soviet era. In their own words, in this vacuum they are adopting modernity wholesale. This has been nowhere more evident than with technology. Cell phone usage is at least as heavy in the States and probably more so. Our car has navigation system. The Seminary has high-speed internet. What was an isolated, distant land has become as modern, connected land. Interesting though that our Russian classmates lament this swallowing of modernity. What they recognize is that the modernity isn’t just technology but it is an ideology. Critical use of modernity is a fallacy in their opinion. Adopting in part ultimately results in gulping the whole pill.
On a side note, I have defeated the evil Bill Gates. The Seminary firewall had blocked encrypted HTTP traffic. I needed to pay our mortgage through a secure sight, but they were blocked. I eventually managed to set up a tunnel back to my computer at home and route all my traffic through the computer at home. If you can imagine every web page request coming from my computer in Siberia, being sent to Fort Wayne, the data coming into Fort Wayne and then sent back to Siberia. Its not particularly efficient but it is fast enough. I now have IM, POP email, HTTPS, and file sharing with my home computer.
We were slightly upset that we were going to miss the season finales of 24, Lost, Heroes, and for Anne, Gilmore Girls. We left the TIVO plugged in to grab them while we are absent. Since I got this tunnel to work effectively, I can download these shows from the TIVO over the internet from half a world away. So while they might not like modernity, I certainly am taking advantage of it.
The “zone” of Novosibirsk is called Akademgorodok. Rather than try to describe it, here’s the Wikipedia article on this suburb. Akademgorodok – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Akademgorodok (Russian: ÃÃÂºÃÂ°ÃÂ´ÃÂµÃ¼Ã³Ã¾Ã‘â‚¬Ã¾ÃÂ´Ã¾ÃŒÃÂº), is a part of the Russian city Novosibirsk, located 20 km south of the city center. It is the educational and scientific centre of Siberia (54.851Ã‚Â° N 83.106Ã‚Â° E) It is located in the center of birch and pine forest on the shore of the Ob Sea, a man-made reservoir on Siberian river Ob. Formally it is a part of Novosibirsk city, and has never been a closed city like, for example, Seversk. Located within Akademgorodok is Novosibirsk State University (NSU), 35 research institutes, an agricultural academy, medical academy, apartment buildings and houses, and a variety of community amenities including stores, hotels, hospitals, restaurants and cafes, cinemas, clubs and libraries. The House of Scientists (Dom Uchyonykh), a social center of Akademgorodok, hosts a library containing 100,000 volumes Ã¢â‚¬â€ Russian classics, modern literature and also many American, British, French, German, Polish books and magazines. The House of Scientists also includes a picture gallery, lecture halls and a concert hall.
One of the more bizarre things is their crazy bell. I don’t know whether I mentioned this previously. This bell goes off every forty-five minutes for class. We get a five-minute break at the bell, and the bell calls us back. It’s like grade-school. So we figured this was just an academic tendency. Then we went to the Symphony. They used it there as well for the entre’act and to indicate that it was time to return to your seats (rather than our obsessive flashing of the lights.) The bell is absolutely obnoxious but I expect they are used to it. I wonder if it’s not just a relic of the Soviet era.
Speaking of the Symphony, we attended a show of the Academic Philharmonia of Novosibirsk. They played a Mendelssohn piece and a Britten piece. The auditorium is a dry acoustic, but the performance was solid. From Wikipedia: Novosibirsk Philarmonic Sosiety: NOVOSIBIRSK ACADEMIC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA has been well-known outside Siberia for a very long time. It has become a cultural wealth of not only the city of Novosibirsk and the Siberian region but of the whole of Russia. According to some forein critic’s asessment, the orchestra can be “rated at the same level as the orchestras of Moscow and Saint-Petersbourg and can successfully compete with many European orchestras”. We may go to the ballet or opera next week. We’re researching tickets.
Many have asked about the food. We have had all sorts of noodles, meats, sausages, cheese spreads, pastries, and Russian beer/wine. We have not had borscht. They eat some vegetables but it seems mostly meat & potato fare. We ate at a traditional Russian restaurant where I had lamb skewers and Anne had some sausage of Russian recipe. We’re going there again tonight. The food and indeed most things are reasonably priced. Gas is about $2/ga, my lamb, and beer were about $16, our pizza, fries, and a soft drink the other night was about $4.50. So everything is typical Indiana prices except for the obvious imported things.
There is probably more that I am forgetting, but it will wait for another post.