The following was dictated to me by Nicole. She doesn't have internet yet. She had a few more paragraphs to dictate but we were having phone trouble, and school was about to start. Other details she told me besides the elaborate wealth is that the food is amazing. There is a staff of cooks. They had salmon stew for lunch. She said there's a new dimension to flavor in the food. All the houses have guards as part of their staff. It's already cold. The other girls are from Utah and Alaska, so they are making fun of Nicole for being so cold. I'm not sure I got everything right, but she can edit this once she gets online.
Nancy (Nicole's mom)
It's still pretty surreal. I don't have time to go into too much detail. I'm going to highlight a few experiences...
I started getting excited to go when I went to find the gate to board my flight and saw the screen "Chicago to Moscow," and I got even more excited when they made all the announcements in English and Russian, and even more excited still when I realized I actually understood a good part of the Russian announcement about which groups could board the plane. I can't say our 10-hour flight was too enjoyable, but it was better than I expected. The best part was definitely landing, especially because as our plane was touching the ground the captain played the Russian folk song over the loud speaker Welcome to Russia, Welcome to Moscow. It was great! Gulya, our ILP coordinator, was there to greet us and she quickly boarded us and all our baggage in a van and took us to our apartment.
This may seem slightly off topic for a second, but when I was 5 years old we lived off Melody Lane in Roseville and I distinctly remember the day reading clicked for me. I read every "No Parking" sign and every street sign in our neighborhood. As soon as we started driving down the road in Moscow, I felt like that 5-year old all over again. I couldn't stop reading every sign we passed. I read them for over an hour on our long, slow, due to traffic, drive to the other side of the city. My bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep were burning and my head was aching from thinking too hard but I just couldn't stop. It was so exciting for me and even more exciting that I could understand some of the words. I even understood a couple sentences like "your new home." Pretty exciting, I know.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of the city on our drive. But I can say it is absolutely beautiful here. -- to be continued.