School has been busier, since I have homework nowadays. I spent more time with the other AFS exchange students, because we have a inter-scholastic concert on September 24th. We are singing Katuysha, a folk song about geese, and perhaps the Cheburashka Birthday song (as it is informally called). After practice, the girls and I sat at the playgrounds and caught up on each other’s school and overall Russian experiences. Some older school girls approached us, because they were curious if we spoke Russian, and were absolutely delighted to chat. They were curious if we smoked and drank like they did, but I told them no. We wanted to respect our host family’s wishes. They understood, and accepted our choices. They were nice about it!
As Tamara and I were walking to the bus stop after practice, we encountered a black-cladded group of teenage boys called goopniki, or the Russian hooligans. I asked Tamara to be quiet and inconspicuous for a moment, but we already made eye contact with the group. Already alert, I expected an obscene stare or a confrontation for being foreigners, but nothing bad really happened. Instead, one of the adolescents attempted to pickpocket my coat, but I simply smacked his hand away. It was one of my proud “Gotcha!” moments. I was a bit happy that I played it smart by not putting any valuables in my pockets; the most he would have gotten is my JetBlue sleeping mask. I keep it there for good memories and good luck. (In Russian, good luck would be “Udachi”!) Still, I was fortunate this time. It might have been bigger trouble if I had to face them alone. We went home safely without interruption after that incident!
However, the teenagers I have mentioned above are more of the exception than the rule. Most students I have met are very kind, curious and friendly. Friendly, that even during one day–when I flew into my friend’s lap as the marshrutka halted–she did not mind. Talk about a funny experience….and Newton’s laws.