Saturday, February 25, 2017

We're Here!

Outside the Moscow Airport
Jet lag has a firm grip on us this morning, but we are here in Russia. Last night we stayed in a Ramada Inn near the Moscow Airport, and later this morning we will head back to the airport for our flight to Elista - our final destination. There are only three flights per week from Moscow to Elista, so we'll leave plenty of time for getting to the airport and checking in.

Ted missed this flight the last time he came to Kalmykia, and his luggage missed the flight from the U.S. to Moscow. So he spent three days wearing the same clothes, holed up in a hotel, waiting for his luggage and the next flight to Elista. I am determined to avoid this fate.

We'll have more to say after we get to Elista and settle in. Tomorrow is a major holiday in Kalmykia - Mongolian New Year - and we are hoping to participate in some of the festivities!

Tea and pretzels welcome visitors to the hotel
Our king size hotel bed has two twin size comforters,
which is BRILLIANT. I didn't have to fight for covers
at all last night!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quick Pronunciation Guide

It has come to my attention that some of you might like a quick lesson on the pronunciation of the city and region we'll be traveling to. :)

We'll be in the city of Elista [el-ee-STA] in the Republic of Kalmykia [kal-MEE-keeya]. Things and people from Kalmykia are labeled "Kalmyk" [KAL-mik].

I hope that helps!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


This is really happening. Ted and I have officially been invited to Russia! We have RSVP'd "YES" to Kalmyk State University, applied for our visas, and the adventure begins.

After several weeks of delays to our visa invitations, during which our frustration and despair mounted daily, we can finally progress to the next stage of our journey: preparing for departure. I have been obsessively stocking up on toiletries, laying out clothing options, and tying up loose ends in Arkansas.

A little background information first: Ted has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to complete four months of research in Kalmykia, Russia. He will be interviewing native Kalmyks about their religion (Buddhism) and the role it played in their lives before/during/after the time of the USSR. I'll let Ted explain more later, but that's the gist of it... I think.

Kalmykia highlighted in red

I will be tagging along for two reasons: (1) Four months is a long time to be away from your dear husband. We've spent time apart in the past during various education, research, and work-related trips, but never in the combination of THIS far apart + THIS long, and (2) This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really experience a little-known region of the world that I would otherwise never travel to.

I'm not sure what our internet connection will be like over there or what exactly I'll do to stay busy, but I'll try to post weekly updates of our experiences. Hopefully it will be interesting for those of you following along!

We are headed to Washington, D.C. in a week, then we fly to Moscow on February 24th, if all goes according to plan. From there we'll fly to Elista, in the Republic of Kalmykia. Look for blog updates sometime after February 25th!