Thursday, July 9, 2009

The KGB gives me nausea.

July 8 2009

Today, I took a 5 hour nap. Clearly I’m not quite used to this time difference yet. I mean, I get tired at night and I wake up early but then I’m still tired all day. I think it’s partially because they’ve kept us so busy and partially because I’m burning more calories than I’m taking in I think. Makes for a sleepy Emily.

But besides my full nights sleep in the middle of the day, we had another 3 hour lecture with the same guy. Thankfully he tried to throw in a little more humor today and it was a little bit more interesting. Plus he let us out half hour early! Yay! Today’s lecture was about Baltic-Russian relations, which we’ve kind of been hearing about this whole time. Pretty much, they don’t trust each other. I realize that the whole soviet mess happened only 18 or so years ago but at some point, you have to start moving on. It seems the EU has but the Baltic states are still pretty uneasy about dealing with Russia. One of the problems is that these countries rely almost entirely upon Russia for gas and oil, so obviously they don’t like that but it’s really their only affordable option. However, Russia doesn’t really like to cooperate and do things in a way that makes economic sense so instead of using Estonian ports, they’ll use ports in St. Petersburg, which is actually more expensive…all so they don’t have to deal with each other. I’m not saying Russia is completely trustworthy but it’s not helping anybody to have so much mistrust, and tensions between everyone. They can’t hold onto the past forever.

I found it really interesting that in the Estonian language, there are two different words for “Estonian”. If you’re a “real” Estonian, meaning your family is ethnically Estonian and has been here for hundreds or thousands of years, then you’re called “Eestlane”. If you live in Estonia but do not have Estonian blood (even if you were born here), then you’re called “Eestimaalane”. I guess it’s kind of like the whole African-American or Chinese-American thing but words like that still create so many borders. It’s one thing if you create these borders yourself because you’re proud of your heritage but it seems that these people don’t really have a choice to try to identify with being a real Estonian. To me, the US is such a diverse place, if you live there, you can pretty much call yourself an American and that’s it. I suppose it’s a matter of personal preference for most people though.

After the lecture we had a visit to the KGB museum, which turned out to be completely different from what I had imagined. I thought that we would be looking at fun spy gadgets and what not but no. It turned out to be the old prison and holding area that the KGB and the Nazi’s had both used. It was where they held people after being arrested while awaiting for trial. It was also where many interrogations took place. So basically it was a basement, with a lot of cement rooms, no windows, metal doors, and horribly old stale, stinky air that was hardly breathable. Made me feel kind of nauseated. The displays ended up being about the soviet occupation more than anything. There were pictures of bombings, rallies with forced participation, soviet propaganda etc.. The museum turned out to be a lot less fun than I’d originally thought and quite depressing. It was after this exhausting experience that I took my beautiful nap.

On a side note, my lunch and dinner today consisted of Pringles, bananas, strawberries, and some version of a Little Debbie’s snack cake. I just wasn’t in the mood for the usual pickled meats and potatoes. I saw raw pig’s feet at the market this morning…kind of made me lose my appetite for the rest of the day. 

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