Take a steppe

As much as I’d like to pretend that there was no enormous gap between this post and my last post, there is. This post is about a trip that happened a month ago (shortly after I found I was sick, actually).

I’ve had some problems and, while they aren’t resolved, I can at least write this blog post. Mostly because it’s mostly pictures! There will be some explanations to accompany them.

Anyhow, my group and I traveled on a red eye train to the capital of the Buryatia region, Ulan-Ude. It’s not too far south of the lake. Allow me to illustrate (courtesy of Google maps):

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So it’s quite far. Anyhow, let me show you what exactly we did out there.

So firstly, here’s the train car.

Here’s the hostel where we stayed in Ulan-Ude: Dostoyevsky Hostel.

After having gotten an extra three hours of sleep at the hostel, we took a bumpy bus ride to a small village of sorts of a group of people known as the Old Believers. They follow a way of life that existed during the time people first came this way in the 17th century! I’d equate them to the Amish, if I had to. They’re much more colorful and lively, I think!

Gratuitous landscape shots for all to see! (Couldn’t get enough of those rolling hills!)

Next we went to visit the more traditional part of Buryatia: the place that involves the Buryats themselves! Buryats are the native people to this part of Siberia. They descend from a nomadic culture not unlike the Mongols. They primarily follow Tibetan Buddhism but also follow Shamanism, though it’s not as widespread.

Then we switched gears and headed to another part of Buryatia to stay at a hunter’s cabin! We stayed at a sort of bed and breakfast first! It was wonderful to have a room to myself for once!

Now we head out for the trip to the cabin!

Then it was the long trip back to Ulan-Ude… I got a couple city shots!


Well, then our trip came to an end. It was a sweet trip while it lasted despite the tail-end of a cold and horrendously uncomfortable shoes.

I think… I think I’d go again if I could. Maybe when there’s more snow and my shoes are better!

Good things come to those who sleep

I believe I have found the most challenging aspect of studying abroad. I can confidently say that, in my case, it’s not buses, unknown meats, or mainstream classes with native students.

No, the most challenging thing about studying abroad is getting sick. Last night, I found myself with a runny nose and a sore throat after having had my head hurt continuously for four days. This morning I woke up in a fog and found that I had indeed gotten a cold.

Of course, a cold is not a problem. Everyone’s had a cold, and, by now, probably know what to do or knows someone who does. Bed rest, fluids, no over-exertion, don’t touch eyes/nose/mouth, etc.

The problem I’m facing is that the language barrier is so much thicker. I’m not sure how to explain what I’m feeling or what I need to do. Currently, I’m not sure whether my host mother is scolding or advising me. She continues to push remedies I’ve never seen at me. The third one she bought while out and about. “Anti-Anghin,” it’s called. It’s some kind of prophylactic.

So far, the only things that have well and truly helped have been sitting upside down and sleeping, sleeping having been the most effective.

We’ll give it a go. I doubt sleeping will take back seat to these lozenges, but we’ll see.

Just 46 Cents a Day Could Make a Difference

A difference in my life, anyway.

These two coins (15 rubles total) are very important to me.

The large silver one is 5 rubles. The darker, smaller coin is 10 rubles. As it currently stands today, September 18th, 2016 at 1702 (UTC/GMT + 9:00), this is about $0.23.

This is better known to me as my bus/marshrutka (a sort of mini-bus)/trolleybus/tram fare. See, there are four ways to get around here in Irkutsk and most of Russia, really. And it’s incredibly cheap. There’s no actual schedule, but you can pretty much count on a bus or marshrutka pulling up at least every 15 minutes.

Here in Irkutsk, it’s not exactly expected to have a car. So the public transportation is efficient but not entirely as uniform as in the States. Though, truth be told, I’d choose the Russian buses over the ones where I live normally every time.

So I’m out about $0.46 every day to get to and from class. A little more if I need to get anywhere else. Back home, it’d cost me about $2.15 for less efficiency and less city coverage.

Given the price and availability, I can’t say I’m complaining. Marshrutka drivers are a little wild with their turns (I’ve got the bruises to prove it), but otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing.


If you’d like to know more about transportation in Russia, I invite you to watch this video from the Real Russia Youtube channel. All of his videos are pretty helpful, but this one is particularly relevant. Please be advised that he does swear from time to time.

(Please note again that this video is about 3 years old and he lives in Ufa, Russia, so the fares may be different)

Пусть всегда будет солнце…

Пусть всегда будет небо…

Last week, we went to the village of Болшие Коты (Bolshie Koty — Big Tomcats). It was meant to be a hiking trip. I wasn’t quite prepared but I did my best to enjoy the scenery.

Lake Baikal was just beautiful. Hopefully my pictures convey that!

It was super foggy and chilly the first day. It warmed right up the second day, though! We got the most out of our hiking trip that day.

Anyway, here’s the pictures I took. Click ’em for a description!


(Here’s what my title is referencing, if you were curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a22Dev3XHsU )

The Irkutsk Mineralogical Museum

Admittedly, I was feeling a little down after today’s first lessons. There’s just something about feeling like a complete fool that’s tough on the self-esteem.

Because of that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy the Irkutsk Mineralogical Museum as much. Thankfully, I was horribly wrong! It was amazing! And I snapped some great pictures, too.

Situated in Irkutsk State Technical University (Национальный исследовательский Иркутский государственный технический университет, if you were wondering), this museum is one of the main attractions in Irkutsk. It features a host of samples from around Siberia and the world. It also has explanations of the different types of minerals and geologic processes. If you’re going to Irkutsk and are interested in rocks or just pretty stuff, please go here!

Now for those pictures… Just like last time, you can click each picture for an awesome informational caption.


Moscow Orientation

Hey all!

Wanted to start the blog off with my pictures from Moscow. We, the entire study abroad group (Moscow, Yaroslavl, Irkutsk), all started our journey with  group orientation in Moscow. Then we went on an excursion to the Kremlin.

So I just wanted to share my pictures from the trip! Click each each image for a sick, informative caption.

A Welcome Post (Добро пожаловать в блог!)

Hello to all reading this blog post (the first blog post)!

I’ll use this entry to briefly explain what the deal is.

I’m studying abroad in Irkutsk, Russia this semester, Fall 2016. I agreed to blog for my home university but I thought I’d make a personal blog to catalog everything as well.

Let me show you where the city is, firstly (courtesy of Google Maps).


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And with some perspective, here:


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Irkutsk is one of the warmer cities in Siberia. Although that’s not saying much… It’s been raining rather unseasonably lately, the temperature staying around 8C (46F).

That’s about all I can think to say at this moment. Stay tuned for more!

(PS: special thanks to my friend Lotus for the name of this blog! I spent a super long time trying to think of a name and she had a great one.)