Sorry for the lack of recent updates. It seems like I've been on a tour for work: Lincoln, Potsdam, and now St. Petersburg, Russia all in the last month or so. And if
St. Petersburg is like no place I've ever been. The diversity and contrast between buildings is amazing. You'll be walking down the street and see buildings with huge golden domes and intricate architecture next to a no-nonsense, utilitarian building that looks like it has been abandoned.
Overall, I've had good luck with the people. Most have been friendly and helpful. The rest have been largely indifferent to my butchering the pronunciation of the few Russian words I've picked up via osmosis.
The biggest adjustment for me is the lack of smoking bans in public areas. I was shocked when we arrived and I saw someone lighting a cigarette in the hotel lobby. It's completely different from the US and is something I don't think I'd want to get used to.
I've had a hard time adjusting to the timezone. It is 9 hours different from home but for whatever reason I haven't been sleeping very much and not on a regular schedule. Part of the problem may be that there's very little darkness at night during the summer. It usually gets dark around midnight and stays dark for 2 hours or so. It's almost like my first weeks on the ice in Antarctica.
I'm looking forward to returning home on Saturday. My flight is early Saturday morning and I arrive back in Minneapolis around 3:30PM if all goes to plan (though I'm not holding my breath with the state of air travel these days). I have to quick rush home from the airport, change, and go to a wedding reception. I doubt I'll make much of a party guest, but I should put in an appearance. After that, I think I'll take a few days to settle back in and get on a normal schedule. I think I'm home for all of a week before I have to pop over to DC for a quick meeting. Then I think I'm going to do everything in my power to spend a full month at home in my new house. Though we'll see what comes up.