Thursday, 24 October 2013

Eyam and Crich

 This last weekend we had a flat trip on Saturday to two villages in the Peak District, Eyam and Crich. It was a long day but definitely worth it! Eyam is a quaint little place, most notable because its population was devastated by the Plague in 1665-1666. The Plague came from fleas in cloth sent to the tailor in Eyam from London, and wiped out huge numbers. It is simply a beautiful area to be in—green pastures, rolling hills, totally England. There are great walking paths in Eyam (and in the Peak District in general), and one of the ones I went on was to see the Riley grave site. It was away from the village up on a hill, in order to contain the infection, and the time we went it was so foggy you could barely see! It made for a great walk.

Derbyshire fog
   
I visited Eyam's church, which was beautiful and had that quaint village feel about it. Classic small town, it even had a sign that said “Welcome to Eyam Church, money for purchases from the bookshop can be left in the box in the wall to the right of the door.” It was super cute. After I went through the church I decided I needed to get some more walking in, so I followed the path to Mompesson's Well, up and away from the village, where during the Plague people from neighboring villages would leave food and medicine, and pick up money (disinfected by vinegar) from people living in Eyam. It was a really hard walk! I was a little pressed for time (we were leaving to go to Crich in about an hour) so I was going pretty fast, but it was absolutely beautiful. And I made it!

Once we got back on the coach, we headed to Crich. The Crich Tramway Museum is the most notable tourist attraction there. The museum is more geared towards younger kids, I think, but I rode the tram once and it was cool. The area is simply stunning—the Peak District is unbelievably beautiful, I could spend all day walking (“rambling” as the Brits say) there. I went up to a memorial tower and the views were amazing. Probably the best view I've had in England so far.

  


We got a delicious dinner at a great pub (Bob treated us to our first round!) and then saw a show in the village. It was a one-woman performance of Nell Gwyn, performed by Lesley Smith, the curator of Tutbury Castle. She was simply fabulous. Her performance was amazing—she's a terrific actress and really seems to understand the characters she portrays. After the show she opened it up for questions and then had time where you could go up and talk to her, so of course I did. I gushed about Tudor history (as a historian, her specialty is women's gyneacology and contraception in the 1580s—fascinating!) and said she'd be happy to send me any of her papers that she's written. Thanks to my enthusiasm, she also invited the group to spend the night at Tutbury Castle, which would normally cost £85 per person, but for us she said £5 each. Amazing!!!!!!!! It was such a thrill to talk to someone in my field who is essentially doing what I want to do. (Not totally sure about the acting part, but the historian/curator part for sure.) She was so friendly and such a delight.

BFFs
  
Nothing too exciting has happened this week, just back to the regular routine of classes etc. I've been busy working on my travel plans, both for winter break and before then! I've officially booked my trips between now and winter break, so I'll be heading to Edinburgh the third weekend of November. And then today (!!!!!) I booked my plane ticket and I'm heading to Latvia the last weekend of November/first weekend of December!!! Ryanair flies to Riga from the East Midlands Airport here in Notts, when else am I going to go to Latvia?! I'm nervous and scared but really excited. One more day of class and then we have another flat day trip this Saturday!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Fate of Joy


As most of you know, I am deeply passionate about the story of the Romanov's, the last royal family of Russia. For years, I have been captivated by Joy, the dog belonging to Alexei Romanov, the Tsarevitch. This spaniel was well-known throughout Russia, as he was frequently featured in photographs of Alexei for the public. It is not known in precisely which year Joy became a part of the Romanov family, but it was known that Joy followed Alexei faithfully into exile and imprisonment, following the first revolution in March 1917 and Tsar Nikolai II's abdication. There are so many touching pictures of Alexei and Joy. Some of my favorites:











The rest of the story has been portrayed across the world stage: the Bolsheviks, the Ipatiev House, the basement, the bullets bouncing off the bodies, the acid, the inept burial of the bones, the missing bodies, Anastasia's possible survival, the discovery of the bones, the state funeral, and finally the discovery of the last two bodies, the DNA testing, and peace.
 
Throughout this saga, I had always thought that Joy had died during the execution on that fateful night, July 16-17th 1918. I'm not sure where exactly I got this from, possibly because Anastasia and Tatiana's dogs were killed during the shooting. Something about the murder of this innocent dog struck me: I could understand why they killed Nicky—regardless of his character, he was, after all, a terrible ruler and responsible in many ways for Russia's problems. I could understand why they killed Alix—she was a hated ''German bitch,'' haughty and arrogant, responsible for Rasputin and his overarching influence into politics. I could understand why they killed Alexei—after all, he was the heir to the throne, even if he was a hemophilic 13-year old boy who, at this point, was unable to walk properly due to injuries. I could understand why they killed the Grand Duchesses—they needed to wipe out the entire family, in order to ensure that no Romanov resurgence could take place. I could even understand why they killed the four loyal servants—if no one objected to killing the innocent girls, killing innocent servants really isn't all that different, and they would only be a nuisance. But I could never understand why they killed the dog.
 

Whenever Joy popped up in the books I read, I always felt a twinge that something wasn't right. Searches on the internet weren't very productive, since it was such a specific topic and very little information was known. Then something popped up: someone had referenced an article, titled ''The Final Resting Place of Joy,'' by Marion Wynn and published in Royalty Digest in November 2004.
“Joy, Alexis' spaniel, hid during the murder and, when the bodies were taken out of the cellar room, he ran out into the streets of Ekaterinburg. Later, Joy was found in the home of an Ipatiev House guard, Michael Letemin. When the guard was arrested by the White Army, Colonel Paul Pavlovich Rodzianko looked after Joy who had by then became totally blind. Joy was taken to Omsk with the British Military Mission. There, Baroness Buxhoeveden went to see Joy and the dog seemed to recognize her, despite he was blind, probably because of a familiar smell. Then Paul Rodzianko brought the dog out of Russia with him to a new home in England."

I couldn’t really believe it—I didn’t know this author, the magazine it was published in, where the author had gotten the information, or where the person who posted this had found the information. I didn’t think much of it until the end of this summer, when I was reading The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg by Helen Rappaport. At the end of the book, this same exact story was quoted almost word-for-word. I knew then that I had to find out the truth about what happened to Joy. (Sorry I can't give the exact quote from this book, I don't have it with me since it's at home in the U.S!)

It was awkward timing, since I was leaving for a year in England. The magazine Royalty Digest had been taken over in 2006 by Rosvall Royal Books, in Sweden, and renamed Royalty Digest Quarterly. I emailed the publisher, asking if it was possible to get the article I needed. He immediately emailed me back with the personal email address of both the author, Marion Wynn, and the publisher of the article. I proceeded to email the author, who kindly offered to mail me a photocopy of her article. The day I arrived in England, it was there, waiting for me.

Her article on Joy is fantastic, although it is more a biographical piece on Paul Rodzianko, who was serving with the British Expeditionary Force in Siberia, and who rescued Joy from Ekaterinburg. This led me to two sources: Rodzianko’s autobiography, Tattered Banners, and an autobiography by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, a former lady-in-waiting to the tsarina, entitled Left Behind: Fourteen Months in Siberia December 1917-February 1919. I most likely could have obtained a copy of these books through the Inter-Library Loan system at Luther (there was a copy of Tattered Banners at the University of Nebraska Lincoln), but I was in England and so instead made two trips to the British Library to get my sources. One of the books was in Document Supply, which meant it would take 48 hours to get to the library for me to use. I obviously didn’t know this before I registered for my Reader Pass, so I was only able to get one of the books on my first trip. On my second trip, I was able to get both books (and since I had remembered to bring my wallet with me into the Reading Rooms) and make photocopies of the pages I needed.

Post-British Library success
  
From “The Final Resting Place of Joy”: “Joy, the Tsarevich’s spaniel hid [during the murder], and when the bodies were taken out of the cellar room, he ran out into the streets of Ekaterinburg. He was found in the home of an Ipatiev House guard, Michael Letemin, when the guard was arrested. After Joy was rescued, Paul looked after him. The spaniel came, wagging his tail uncertainly, stumbling a little, finally bumping his nose into Rodzianko’s leg. He was totally blind. He seemed to be always looking for his master, and this had made him so sad and dejected that he would scarcely touch his food even after he was lovingly cared for. Joy was taken to Omsk with the British Military Mission, and when Baroness Buxhoeveden was there, she went to see him.”


From Left Behind: “I went to see Joy, and he, evidently connecting me in his dog’s brain with his masters, imagined that my coming announced theirs. Never did I see an animal in such ecstasy. When I called him he made one bound out of the carriage and tore down the platform towards me, leaping in the air and running to me with his forepaws, walking upright like a circus dog. General Dietrichs said that he had never given such a welcome to anyone before, and I attributed this solely to the fact that my clothes, which were the same that I had worn at Tobolsk, had still kept  familiar smell, for I had never specially petted him. When I left, Joy lay for a whole day near the door through which I had gone. He refused his food and relapsed again into his usual despondency.
            What had little Joy seen on that terrible night of July 16? He had been with the Imperial Family to the last. Had he witnessed the tragedy? His brain had evidently kept the memory of a great shock, and his heart was broken.
            It was pathetic seeing this dumb friend, who brought back the memory of the Cesarevitch so vividly. Little Joy was well cared for. He was taken to England by Colonel Rodzianko and spent the last years in the utmost canine comfort, but still never recovered his spirits.”

Eventually Lloyd George ordered all British troops to withdraw and return to England, Paul Rodzianko being one of them. He took Joy back to Windsor, where he lived out the rest of his days in peace.


From Tattered Banners: “With heavy hearts we sailed away from Vladivostok. Joy, the little ill-named spaniel who had seen his master murdered, that fateful night, traveled with me. I have never seen Russia again.”

From “The Final Resting Place of Joy”: “Joy seemed happy enough in his new home, but staring into his limpid brown eyes, Paul often wondered how much the dog could remember. He had been through such a traumatic time in Ekaterinburg, he was such a gentle and faithful friend to his young master. How could he forget such horrors. Joy died at Sefton Lawn and was buried in the garden. His simple tombstone read ‘Here lies Joy.’”

From Tattered Banners: “Every time I pass my garden at Windsor I think of the small dog’s tomb in the bushes with the ironical inscription ‘Here lies Joy.’ To me that little stone marks the end of an empire and a way of life.”

The last line of “The Final Resting Place of Joy” reads: “Joy, you are not forgotten.”

The fate of the Romanov family is full of grief and tragedy. For me, the story of Joy is now the silver lining of this story. They may have killed Nicky, they may have killed his innocent children and his innocent, loyal, servants. They may have killed both Anastasia and Tatiana’s dogs. But Joy survived. He lived through it all and peacefully spent the rest of his life in England, safe. He might not have been the same—he was obviously traumatized. But he lived. In a family that lost most of its members between the years 1917 and 1920, Joy survived. Discovering this small happy ending was well worth the work. It’s the little things in life that make it all worthwhile. Thank you to all the people who have helped me on this journey and who have made solving this mystery possible.

RIP Joy. You are not forgotten.






Because not having citations would be just wrong…

Sources:

Buxhoeveden, Sophie. Left Behind: Fourteen Months in Siberia December 1917-February 1919. London: Longmans & Co., 1929.

Rappaport, Helen. The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.

Rodzianko, Paul. Tattered Banners: An Autobiography. London: Seeley Service, 1939.

Wynn, Marion. “The Last Resting Place of ‘Joy’ and the Story of His Rescuer, Colonel Paul Pavlovich Rodzianko.” Royalty Digest 19, no. 5 (November 2004): 147-153.

**UPDATE**

As of 24 June 2015, it’s been over a year and a half since I originally published my research in this blog post. I haven’t changed or edited my original post, so it still remains in the informal-blog-style I originally wrote it in. Somehow, this blog post still gets hits every week! For anyone who has gotten here by a Google search for Joy and wants to know more, here is the information on what has happened with my research on Joy:

In January 2014, The Siberian Times picked up on this research and wrote a fantastic article about Joy, which credits and links this blog post. The Daily Mail and Topky, a Slovakian newspaper, also published articles on this research and Joy’s survival (luckily a friend of a friend knew Slovak and was able to translate for me!). In April 2015, I presented my research on Joy at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2015 in Spokane, Washington (USA). This research is now pending publication in the Proceedings for NCUR 2015. Hopefully my formal paper on Joy and his survival will be available soon!

Here are links to the other articles published about Joy’s story:
The Siberian Times Article
Daily Mail Article
Topky Article 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey! I’m continually amazed at how many people around the world this story has reached.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Beer Festival and London (take 2)

What a week! I got back from London yesterday to lots of sick flatmates and all the homework I procrastinated/didn't do all weekend. I'm fighting this obnoxious cold (hopefully it's almost over) so I fit right in with the rest of my flatmates and didn't need to quarantine myself. This week has been so busy!

Thursday was the Robin Hood Beer Festival. It was AWESOME. It was at the Nottingham Castle grounds, and there were over 1100 ales and over 200 ciders! I walked into the tent and it was literally like walking into heaven. So much beer! With the ticket, you get a cool glass mug (I didn't break it! That's right! Didn't break it!) and 14 tokens—2 tokens buys a third of most beers/ciders, and 3 tokens buys a half pint of most beers/ciders. I tried so many I couldn't remember them even if I really tried. I also discovered that while you have to pay tokens for a third/half, you don't have to pay anything for samples…and I think we all know how I feel about free samples… So I had quite a bit for free!

Since we were inside the Nottingham Castle gates, my friend Eric and I were able to go wander around outside the castle for a bit. Nottingham Castle has one of the most beautiful views of all Nottingham! It was a wonderful surprise. Our fellow Luther Nott, Kula, met up with us there and we had a great time. It was open until 11:30pm, but we were all pretty tired so we left around 8:00pm or so. All in all, my first beer festival was a major success!

The view from Nottingham Castle!

I left for London on Friday, with my train buddy Sarah (who was headed to Stanstead Airport to go to Sicily). Friday night I got milkshakes at an American diner in Camden Town, and then Saturday morning I headed out to the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibit, called Elizabeth I & Her People.

They basically should have called it Maja & Her People. It was a fantastic exhibit!!! They had so many great portraits of Elizabeth I, and a lot of portraits of her famous courtiers. One of my favorite Elizabeth ones was the portrait missing from Hardwick Hall when I went there—it was huge and the frame was beautiful. So glad I finally got to see it! 

This is the Elizabeth I portrait! Isn't it a beauty?! Definitely worth the wait.

It was great to be in a room filled with my people. My friend Peter, who kindly let me sleep on his floor in his flat, met me after I finished my exhibit and I gave him my National Portrait Gallery Tour. He said it was better than my Tower of London Tour!!!!! We got sausages for lunch from a vendor which were amazing, and then he headed back to his flat to write a paper while I set off for the British Library to finish my research.

I'll probs be writing a super nerdy blog post about my research soon, so I won't talk about it now. But I will say definitively that my trips to the British Library were not in vain, and I was able to get my books and finally find out the truth about one of history's mysteries that has captivated me for years :)

On Saturday night, Peter's flatmate, Caleb, and his family (visiting from the great MPLS) invited Peter and his flatmates (and me by extension) out to dinner. It was very nice of them and it was great to hear some local news from Minnesota. Saturday night Peter and I had plans to go out and go pubbing, but we were too exhausted. So I made him get ice cream and we had that and then I went to bed at 10:30pm because I was exhausted. Obviously a rockin' Saturday night in London.

Sunday morning Peter and I went to the (free) church service at Westminster Abbey! It was simply amazing. I'm not the most church-ish person ever, and obviously Anglican services are different from Lutheran (and Lutheran is different from my Holy Trinity services, which is what I'm used to), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Just being back in Westminster Abbey was so surreal!!! We were able to sit in the choir stalls (!!!) and that was fantastic. Unfortunately, we couldn't wander around the Abbey or really see anything besides the nave and altar. But! The service was on Edward the Confessor (king of England from 1042-1066), and after the service was over we were able to go see the Shrine of Edward the Confessor! It was unbelievable. I was sitting in a chair crying and a very nice man came up, put his hand on my shoulder, and said 'stay strong.' He asked if I was of the bloodline of Edward the Confessor (obviously I'm not…I'm just crazy…), and then he told me that there are still direct blood descendents alive today. I was totally shocked (I mean this guy lived a THOUSAND fucking years ago), and then he pointed out a man who had brought flowers to the shrine, who was a descendent of the bloodline. I just sat there and stared. It was unbelievable. So much history! It's just so crazy to think that ancestors of this great medieval king are still alive today.

When I was walking around the shrine, I paused and looked back through a grate to the Henry VII Chapel, and to the room where Elizabeth I was buried. This rude church guy pointed at the shrine and said 'we're not here for that, we're here for this.' Like sorry for looking in the wrong spot… as Mulan's grandma would say, who spit in his bean curd? (Makoto, I hope you read this one just so that someone will laugh at my Mulan references.)

Church buddies from First Communion to Westminster Abbey!

Peter ditched me after Westminster Abbey, and I went to the Banqueting House (finished by Charles I, and later the location of his execution in 1649) mainly because it was free with my Historic Royal Palaces membership. The ceiling is made up of 9 panels by Ruben, which was beautiful even though I hate art. Then I walked across the city and went back to the Tower of London! Did you know there were places in the Tower of London I hadn't been yet?!? Neither did I!!! Rectified that situation immediately. Since it was raining, the Yeoman Warders tours were shortened (only 20 minutes instead of an hour) and took place in the Chapel. But I hit up all the highlights! I also (FINALLY) found the staircase where they found the bones of the Princes in the Tower in 1674, right in the White Tower. That was cool.

Under the stairs where they found the Princes in the Tower

After that, it was back to Peter's flat, resting period, dinner, ice cream, watching Peter and his flatmates play computer games/work on their papers, and then earning my keep by doing the dishes and unclogging the hair from the shower drain (apparently it hadn't been done since they got there… two months ago…) Monday I walked to a couple places in the area (Lincoln's Inn, where Thomas More trained as a lawyer, in particular) and then headed back to St. Pancras to catch my train back to Notts.

I couldn't have asked for a  better weekend! (Besides the rain.) This weekend, more than ever, I really felt independent. Walking everywhere is exhausting and takes more time than jumping on the tube, but you really get a feel for the city. Somehow, London doesn't seem as big now. Knowing that I can get basically across the entire city on my own without getting lost has really changed my perception of the city. When I was in London two years ago, I left thinking I'd never really like it there, since it's too big and too crowded and there's too many people. (I hate people.) But after feeling so invincible and confident walking everywhere, I think I would be really happy in London. I really think I'll live there someday. Before I never really could see myself living in London, but after this weekend I do see myself living there. Someday. I was stopped multiple times by other people asking directions, but more importantly, I have learned how to j-walk like a Londoner with confidence and not get hit by cars!

Okay! Now it's time to try to catch up on all the homework I didn't do this weekend!  

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Classes and the weekend

It’s been really nice finally settling into a routine! My first week of classes went really well. I’m really liking Polish so far, even though it’s super crazy and hard and confusing. It’ll be a lot of work, but I’m excited for it! We sang for the first time and it made me miss my Russian class so much. The song we sang was called Panie Janie and it ended with bim bam bom, the same as one of my favorite songs, мальенкий гном!:

Panie Janie. Panie Janie
Rano wstań, Rano wstaź
Wszystkie dzwony biją
Wszystkie dzwony biją
Bim, bam, bom
Bim, bam, bom

AND it goes to the tune of one of our classic songs in Russian:

Я не знаю, я не знаю
Ничего, ничего
Ничего не знаю, ничего не знаю
Хорошо, хорошо

It was so much fun! I don't even know what the American version is that goes to the same tune. Whatever. Today in Polish we learned how to talk about people's nationalities, professions, and about our family. It's been great so far. I've only had my Building Sovietness class once, but I'm hoping that it'll be as interesting as the first day made it seem. It's just so nice to finally get homework and be in class and have a schedule! I am so much more at ease in routines and it's nice to finally feel like I'm actually living here, instead of just traveling.

This weekend was a perfect mix between doing nothing and doing a lot. Friday night I went to the Russian Society social. It was fun and I'm glad I went, but it was super intimidating. Basically everyone there was a native speaker. And I was just there like что? But once I told people I was American and only spoke a little bit of Russian, they spoke a lot more slowly to me, or just switched to English. I'm planning on joining the group since they have lessons with a native speaker which I really want to do! Already after only an hour or two of listening to Russian, I could tell that I was remembering so much more and a lot of it was coming back. It was also really interesting to meet so many different nationalities who all spoke the same language! Maybe about half the people were from Russia, and the other half were from all over: Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Azerbaijan, Kazahkstan, Armenia, etc.

Saturday I went to a self-defense class, sponsored by the Women's Network and it was awesome (and free!). It was so empowering and I feel like I learned a lot! I'm going to have to miss the next 3 classes, since they are all on Saturdays and I'll be gone the next 3 Saturdays. So I'm really glad I was able to go to at least one! That night some of us Luther Notts went to the Goose Fair, which is an annual fair that happens in Nottingham and has been going for 719 (?) years, the longest traveling fair of its kind in Europe. It started out as a fair for selling geese (hence the name), but now it's basically just lots of fun rides and food. It was basically like the Midway of the Minnesota State Fair, but with a lot less space, more people, and pricier rides. The rides are more impressive than the Midway rides, like the ones at Valleyfair, but they were too expensive so I didn't actually go on any. £6 for one ride? No. But I got some donuts and they were amazing!!! I miss donuts. Then afterwards we came back to the flat and watched Spice World, because who doesn't like the Spice Girls??

On Sunday a few of us went to Sherwood Forest. One of the benefits of living in Notting-ah ha ha-ham! I of course was humming the songs from the Disney version of Robin Hood under my breath basically the entire time I was there. It is a really pretty area and we had a beautiful day for it! I walked to the Major Oak (supposedly where Robin Hood had his meeting place) and back and it was a nice trip. 

The Major Oak

This week is going to be a busy one: Tuesday night we have class for our house course with Bob, Wednesday night we're going to a play, Thursday I'll be going to the Robin Hood Beer Festival (over 1000 beers and over 200 ciders!), and then this weekend I'm heading back to London! The National Portrait Gallery is opening a new exhibit called Elizabeth I & Her People so if you need me, I'll be there, crying. And the most important news I could ever give to the world: I just reserved my ticket to see my favorite historian/author/person in the world, Alison Weir, give a talk about her new book at a library in Leicester on February 7th. I am beyond excited. It is going to be amazing, I'm sure. All my dreams coming true! Finally going to meet the person who has been one of the biggest influences in my life for the past 8ish years! If you're reading this, you probably know me and that I love history. Obvi. Alison Weir is my hero. She's my girl. I just can't wait! Didn't even have to use my AK, I had to say it was a good day!!!

Shout out to my big sister Carlye for RUNNING A MARATHON on Sunday!!!!!!!! Can I get a what what?! She is so inspiring!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

First Day of Classes!

First day of school! First day of school! First day of school! Nerd alert!!! That is how excited I am about finally being registered and going to classes and getting to be a student. Also because now I can finally get a set schedule and routine. And also because now I can finally start using my planner. When it comes down to it, I just really love learning and being a student is something that I thoroughly enjoy, although it most definitely has its ups and downs. I’m only taking two classes at the uni (as everyone calls the university) this semester, Polish and Building Sovietness. The rest of my credits for the year I’ll get through the house courses with Bob and the other Luther Notts. I have a lecture and a seminar for each class, and they’re all spread out so I’m on campus Tuesday-Friday.

My first Polish class was awesome!!! I got my ass kicked and it was great. There are only 8 of us in the class, so it’s a really good size and basically the same as my Russian class last year. My professor seems really nice and fun, and she also teaches Russian! So we’ve been able to chat in Russian a bit too. It was a little scary just because Polish is crazy and difficult and I can tell that it’s going to be a lot of work. Just learning the alphabet was insane. Polish spelling is crazy. They have different letters for the same sound, and then they have clusters of letters that make different sounds and it has 7 cases…it’ll be a lot of work. My Russian professor at Luther, who learned Polish in grad school, told me that Polish is “exponentially harder than Russian.” Because learning Russian was SO easy…hopefully since I already understand cases and grammar Polish won’t kill me. Either way, I am SUPER excited about it! I really love learning languages and it’s something that seems to come very naturally to me. Polish will be a challenge, but I definitely up for it! I’ve already started making my flashcards.

Today was my first Building Sovietness class. It was also great! There are about 25 people in this class, so still a Luther-sized class, which is really nice. My professor seems great, she’s fairly young and I think already I want to be her. Basically the class is all about Russian culture from the Revolution to the time of Stalin’s death. I already know a lot about that time period (since I’ve taken essentially two classes on it at Luther) so the information is pretty familiar. But I’m really excited about our readings (Yuri Olesha’s Envy, and Alexandra Kollontai’s Vasilisa Malygina) and the rest of the stuff we’ll be doing in class. Our professor said that we’ll probably be watching some films, so I’m super excited for that!

Overall classes this week have just been awesome so far. I am so lucky that I get to take classes that I’m so interested in and (hopefully) will enjoy so much! Here’s to getting all my gen ed requirements done in my first two years at Luther (and working hard in high school) so I can do whatever I want these last two years. I really just feel so fortunate that I got into these classes and that credit-wise I can take classes that I actually want to take! This semester is going to be a busy one, I can tell already, but I’ll be learning things I care about so I know it’ll be a great time.

Not much is new since it’s the first week of classes. Everyone at the flat is getting settled into their routines. On Monday night I went to the first meeting/social for the Women’s Network, which is (I think) the feminist group on campus, and it was awesome! I’m missing my LC Fems hardcore (especially since they are doing so many amazing things and getting so much shit done in my absence!) and so hopefully this can be an acceptable substitute for that. After the representatives finished their powerpoint, most of us headed down to Mooch, the bar on campus in the union. I chatted with a couple other people and it was a ton of fun! They’re offering a self-defense class during the next four Saturdays on campus (and the first session is free!) so I’m definitely planning on going to that. The Russian Speaking Society is having its first icebreaker/social on Friday night, so I’m planning on going to that too. I’m a little nervous because I think it’s mainly native speakers and I don’t know how well I’d be able to handle that. But I think it would be great practice, especially since I’ve been feeling like I’m forgetting all my Russian!

This week has been a busy one and it’s only half-way over! I’m really excited to finally be getting settled into a routine. I think from here on out, my main issue will be time management and making sure I give myself to do my homework and get stuff done. I’m excited though! It finally feels more real that I’m actually living in England. Here’s to a busy but great semester!