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One Week Down

Today marks the end of my first week in Saratov. So much has happened, and now I wish that I had been more energetic throughout the week and had taken a moment to write a little each day, since I will never remember all of it.

Gavrosh, the family cat, is sitting next to me as I write this. Yesterday, all my jetlag caught up with me and I slept for most of the day, and that was after going to bed early the night before. Today is better, and while I've homework to do, I have the apartment to myself for the time being, so it seemed like a good time to write.

Where to start....hmm. Sara, the final member of our troop, finally arrived on friday (or perhaps late thursday) after experiencing several delays, including having two of her flights cancelled. Still, she is here, safe and sound. That means there are now 9 of us: Mack, Tyler, John, Derek, Sara, Dalyn, Abby, Shelby, and myself.

Mack is the most fluent of the group. He speaks Russian with few errors, and he's short, with dark hair, a high forehead, and a very slim, boyish build. He has dark eyes, which look very large behind his glasses, and typically wears slacks, polos or button-ups in bright colors, all coordinated, and brown Oxford shoes that "lactate" (they ooze something white; I suspect its shoe glue or something) when it rains. He's a bit self centered, but not a bad person.

Tyler is, in my mind, the second most impressive linguist in our group. He has studied several languages (though I don't know which he's fluent in) including Mandarin and Spanish. I think I understand and speak better than Tyler, but we probably are at roughly the same level. He's tall, a bit heavy-set, with a round face, glasses, and short light brown hair that sticks straight up. He's a little quiet, but very nice.

Derek, our group rugby player, by contrast, isn't quiet at all. Not that he talks too much, his voice just carries well. Slightly taller than some, he is upbeat and sturdy, and visually everything I imagine a stereotypical american to be. Loud, friendly, with a good (sometimes dark) sense of humor, and he is always up for a beer. He (and I guess I do it to) is always the one who orders cafe americanos at cafes, and is always looking for a place to get good food. Lucky for him, he can burn it off. I wish I was so lucky, as the food here is usually quite delicious. I think Derrek is also our oldest member of the group, at age 25. He complains, but in a humorous way to make passing the time easier. He's very smart, and has the patience of a saint. He also makes the best faces.

John is usually found hanging out with Derrek, and he is tall, and wiry, with a clean-shaven head and light brown facial hair. He smiles easily, and is very pleasant, which is probably what won him more friends than anyone else so far, despite coming to Saratove without knowing a word of Russian. He also has his ears pierced, but it means one is associated with homosexuality, and he is definitely straight. Apparently he decided to leave the earrings at home after being eyeballed by another gentleman at the bar. :) He loves the color purple. Probably good, because his eye is purple now, after he ran outside to watch a bar fight. John, while being very pleasant, isn't terribly responsible, and is a little too talkative sometimes. He's easy to like, but also obnoxious when he's drunk. A good guy, but he likes to party.

Dalyn (Day-LYN), whose real name is Elizabeth, is a recent graduate from UW, and was recently accepted into Harvard for graduate school. She's very nice, and extremely bright. She has a brown pixie cut, very white teeth, and a lot of ear peircings. Her earrings are always coordinated with her outfit, and it's fun to see how she switches them up. She likes to run, and is lucky because her apartment is close to the Volga River, and there's a long running path along the bank. She didn't speak a word of Russian, but has progressed quickly. Her host mom has a hairless cat, which was very nice to me, but it doesn't like Dalyn. The feeling is apparently mutual.

Shelby is also from UW, and is studying mathematics. She's from Cheyenne, and she is friends with my boyfriend Casey, which is exciting because we finally have a mutual friend that we met in different places. Shelby is tall, with blond hair that is usually braided, and she has beautiful hazel-ish eyes that look different depending on what she is wearing. Sometimes they're grey, sometimes green, and sometimes they look brownish. She takes very nice pictures, although she says she's insecure about her photography skills because her father is a professional. I guess I can understand, but she's still far better at composing photos than I am. Shelby is also an experienced traveler, and I can't imagine how she'll manage being back in the states. Once you get bit by the wanderlust bug, sitting still is hard. Charming, and an olympian napper (she can fall asleep literally anywhere), she also always knows the answers on our crossword puzzles (in russian).

Abbie is the one member of the group that i knew before coming to Saratov. She's a very bubbly, sweet girl from the south, and she is studying Russian and French. Not surprisingly, her Russian sounds incredibly French and can be a little hard to understand, but it's charming. She's been a little stressed and thinks she's a bit clumsy, but she's trying very hard to speak and learn as much Russian as possible. I wish Abbie was more confident, because she's doing really well. She's improved a lot already, but I don't think she believes me when I say that. She's also the "mom" of the group, or at least our medicine woman, because she's always got medicine, essential oils, extra tissues, etc. She also dresses nicely, and has a passion for makeup. She and Shelby suggested I should wear my hair in pigtails, but I don't know how I feel about that...

Sara and John are from Michigan, Mack was studying in Milwaukee, and the rest of us went to the University of Wyoming. overall, it's a good group, and we all get along well.

That's all for now.

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