Saturday, September 15, 2007

First Week Complete

Who survived her first week (alone) and in (the adult, working world of) Riga? I did!, I did!

For now my days consist of *eventually* getting to work (more on that later), sitting in a basement that smells like moldy chemicals (don't ask how I'd know what that smells like) and translating random texts given to me. There's another girl from the U.S. at the museum, doing the same thing. My first job was to look over the Latvian and English versions of a movie transcript to make sure that what she translated into English=what the guy actually said in Latvian. Then I got to edit that, watch the movie myself, and hand it in as a finished item. Exciting!! It takes a while sometimes, but it's always a great feeling when a certain task is finished and you know the product is good :-)

Then we worked on translating the Museum of Occupational History's Education Program's website ( - this, needless to say, went much faster than the movie. Shorter texts, first off, and you're not reading in to what is written (like with the interviews in the museum's movies) - what's there is there. For now, though, I've been given the third movie the museum is going to put out. I get to watch, pause, rewind, watch, rewind, pause, rewind, watch this movie (it's at least 4 hours of uncut interview material) until I've got a word-for-word transcript of what this man is saying. It's interesting, though, because the people the museum interviews (those who lived through the occupation or deportation to Siberia) are interesting to watch. Some of them have a great sense of humor, which I find amazing, considering what they must have seen and lived through.

Yesterday, however, I didn't go in to work *GASP*. I had planned on working from home, or from a cafe in the city center, because I don't want to spend every day with that weird smell in the basement. At noon I had a meeting with the next place I'll be working at. I came in very late...My relatives have all been telling me, "Don't worry, you can't get lost or anything, Riga's not that big of a place.", so I looked at the map and saw where I had to go and thought, "It looks far, but, nah, it's really not that far." Ooooh, but it was that far. Very far. So I made it there, and after 45 minutes (I thought it would take longer) the meeting was finished and I was free to go. So I went.

On the way to a cafe I ran into some Minnesotans (the Stolceri) and was overly happy to see familiar faces from home. At the cafe I asked for an internet card (like a phone calling card, but for WiFi), but, alas, the internet there hadn't been working for a week. So I sat like a lost child for a bit, ate some lunch and then left. No work done :-( I was going to meet with relatives at 6 o'clock, but it was only a little past 1 in the afternoon...FIVE HOURS. I almost went crazy.

So I went to one indoor shopping center and walked through all of the floors and stores veeerrryyy slooooowlllyyy. Four hours left! I walked (slowly) to some other stores. Three and a half hours left. Slowly on to the meeting place (department store + grocery store, next to the train station+indoor shopping center), where I walked through whichever floors I could (I had to skip the Men's might look like I was shopping for a boyfriend instead of clothes or dishes) - SLOWLY. I managed to kill about 10 extra minutes by waiting in line at a register just to ask if a certain pillow case came in 80 x 80 (it didn't).

Then I dragged myself through the train station and shopping center (also slowly - hence 'dragged'). Then I headed back to the place I was supposed to meet my relatives....still 30 minutes left. I feel like I never want to go shopping again. Seriously - five hours of forcing myself to walk through stores?!?! What kind of nutcase am I? It was terrible, absolutely terrible.

Now, I would have gone home during this time, but for one defining factor: traffic. During certain times (=pretty much always) there is heavy traffic where I live now. It's a huge road that heads in the direction of another large city in Latvia, so there are trucks and cars, plus the public transportation vehicles. Normally, it should take the trolley only 15 minutes to get to the city center. However, during rush-traffic, I wait for no less than 30 minutes for the trolley to get there, and anywhere up to 30-40 minutes to get to the city center. It's extremely frustrating, so as you might guess, trying to get home and then back...could take around two hours--which, although it would aid my goal in killing time, would make me want to kick things. For some reason five hours of waiting somewhere where I can freely move around is less terrible than sitting in a stationary trolley for a similar amount of time.

I have figured out, however, that if I walk 3 or 4 blocks up the street, I can catch a tram to the city center. The tram doesn't come as frequently as the trolley (should), but it also doesn't follow the same traffic laws (in a way). So if anything, I can be moving.

This post is already a novel - today I'm planning on going to a cultural festival to see some music groups perform, and some people dressed as warriors fight. Let's just hope it doesn't rain again today!

p.s. I'm alive, well, and tired.

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