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Hello, my name is Emily Westerlund, and I am visiting Novosibirsk from Wisconsin, in the United States. I have been in Russia for about 5 days now, and it has been very interesting so far. My first impressions of Russia when I got off the plane were that it would be very difficult to get around and understand things while I was here because I did not know any Russian, and all of the signs were in the Russian language! I also found that nearly everyone here speaks Russian, and many do not speak any English at all, so it was very imperative for me to rely on my host student to help me purchase things, and to ride the bus and tell people what I was looking for or what I needed. In Russia, it is very different because not very many people own cars or drive places - most people use the bus or they walk. Novosibirsk is a very large city, but it is not really horrible to walk because the trails are through the woods and there are many interesting things to see. While I've been here, I've noticed that the bus drivers drive very fast, and that many people do not use caution when crossing the street. I came out in the street one day, and a bus was coming, but I did not see it, and it started honking its horn at me and I had to run to get out of the street! Also, on the bus, I did not know that I was supposed to hand the money to the driver, so I only sat there, and then people in the bus began to yell at me in Russian, and I did not know what they were saying! They wanted me to give their rubels to the driver, but I didn't know, so I held the money and just sat there, not understanding. However, my host student took the money and handed it to the driver, and then everything was fine. My host mother doesn't speak English either, so I try to act out what I want or need, and she just looks at me like I am crazy! I do know a few words in Russian, like "thank you" and "please" and "very good" : but a lot of the people here laugh at me when I say them. I don't know why - maybe my accent is not very good. I suppose I sound like a foreigner. Either way, it is very exciting to be in Russia. The CDs here are very cheap, and there is a good selection. There are many neat things to buy, such as matreshka dolls and also many different kinds of foods, some that I cannot even identify! It is good to try lots of different things here. I have had a lot of different meals with potatoes, rice, and pasta - my host mother keeps trying to feed me more and more, even when I am not hungry! We also drink a lot of tea. Before I came to Russia, I never had tea, and now we have it all the time. Also, nobody can believe that I do not eat meat, so they just look at me like I'm crazy when I ask for things without meat. I guess everyone here eats a lot of meat. One day my host family saw me go outside without a hat or scarf, and they grabbed my sleeve and wouldn't let me leave! Another day I was wearing sandals, and they tried to stop me from going outdoors without putting on shoes with closed toes. My host mother begged me to not go outside without different shoes on, and she also wanted me to put on pants, but I was wearing a skirt and did not want to change. Anyway, the people in Russia are very kind and nice, even when they don't understand what I'm trying to say. I've had a good time in Russia, and I hope that things will continue to go well for me while I am in Siberia.