apartment hunting

I’m embarking on my first apartment search ever, and it happens to be in Moscow.  I checked out my first apartment yesterday, and it’s intimidating but quite thrilling to be using my Russian to navigate the real-estate scene of this vast city.  I have to admit I feel like a total infant doing this.  Not only is there the problem of my Russian skills, there’s also the fact that I’m doing this for the first time ever, I’m very new to the city and don’t know how things work here, and I also look awfully young, as some of my students here have not neglected to comment to tell me.  I’m worried that my potential flatmates (I’m definitely planning on sharing an apartment and renting out a room to make the situation more affordable and more interesting for me) will take one look at me and think, are you kidding?  So going to look at apartments involves screwing my courage to the sticking place.

This apartment was by the Elektrozavodskaya metro station.  (The name means electric factory– there are also metro stations named after auto factories, textile factories, etc. as well as those called Partizanskaya, Marxistskaya, Proletarskaya, Komsomolskaya, you get the idea).  This is one of the grandest metro stations I’ve seen so far– it’s like a palace.  There are marble reliefs on the massive columns: scenes from antiquity on one side juxtaposed with scenes from– what do you think? –Soviet times on the other.  When I got out at ground level, I groaned to see a McDonalds a stone’s throw away… but soon after checking the apartment out, I was happily munching on chicken nuggets and fries.  You have to pay for ketchup here…

Anyway, the apartment was in a great location.  Besides the boon of having McDonalds nearby (whenever I’m in a foreign country, I get more American and want to eat McDonalds and listen to Elvis all the time), there’s a market full of stalls selling pastries, (all the 50-cent tvorog pies I want), kebabs, watermelons, and bootleg DVDs of Inception (Novinka!!! SUPER!!!) and down the way a little bit, a nice park with more farmers stalls selling dried fish, meats, vegetables, and wool valenki boots.  The apartment itself is in a massive complex of ugly orangish buildings (you should see the architecture here!  So many eyesores!  Where does Russia train its architects??)  but it’s really cozy on the inside.  It’s hard to get a read on the girl herself who lives there, but she seems nice.  I kind of screwed myself over by telling her that cleanliness wasn’t a huge issue for me on the phone– I was trying to be my easy going self– and I had to make up or it when I met her in person and got a lecture from her on cleanliness and health in the kitchen.  We’ll see, though.  I’m hopefully going to get to see more rooms and meet more people.  As long as I get into the city.  It’s amazing the difference between here and there.  There are some very good things about being out here in the village– the fresh air and the good smoky smell coming from people cooking at their dachas and the woods all around with pine trees and birches trees– but I know that for me to get the most out of my time here, to meet people and learn things and do things– I’ve got to change my location.

Also, did you notice that I don’t have any pictures posted in this issue?  Yeah.  Even though I managed to purchase a fitting USB cord for my camera (no small feat, huh?) and upload all my pictures onto my computer, I can’t get them onto the internet, nor can I upload anything onto the internet.  The school’s got a firewall as fortified as a maximum security prison, and it keeps blocking more and more stuff.  It’s terrible.  Expat shield helps with some things, like giving me some access to facebook and the room-search sites I used (which it has blocked under “dating and relationships” – huh?) but I can’t upload the photos I’ve taken so far or, by far, the most important, do video chats with D and my family.  Another reason to get out of these walls.  I understand the security and the high white wall around this place (there are some very VIP kids here; one of my students, a blond, bearish fourteen year old, is a billionaire’s son — oh no, I didn’t have to google has dad’s name, he told me himself before asking me what I knew about billionaires in America) but STILL.  Independence, here I come…

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One response to “apartment hunting

  1. rachel! we’re living little parallel lives! I’m also starting to look for apartments, I too have never done the apartment-search thing before. one of the things they suggested to us was to use an agency, which is annoying because of the fee but might make it easier. also: i too have not been able to post any pictures yet, but that’s because my little usb modem is just so slow. anyways, like you said, it makes me feel so much better knowing that someone else I know is going through all this stuff! in no time at all we’ll be happily settled into cozy apartments, skyping to our hearts’ content. good luck!

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