Friday, March 23, 2012

#6 ~ 1970 ~ Summer - Leningrad

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Previous Post:1970 ~ High School

We arrived to Leningrad by train in the morning. The plan was: to sleep on the train and be ready for adventures in the morning. But we were so excited and thrilled, we did not sleep at all that night. So needless to say when we arrived, we were dead tired and exhausted. Thankfully, it was pretty easy to find the college, but it took us all day to register, pick up schedules, get to the dorms, unpack. We had all the intentions to go out and explore the city, but both of us fell asleep despite the commotion, noise, clatter, loud voices all around us. I woke up in the middle of the night very confused and hungry. The clock showed 3 am, but it was light outside. I stood by the window and looked into the still of the white night. It was surreal!
Next day started early. Our first class was in the big auditorium. Young professor made two announcements that were rather shocking:
 #1 - Forget everything you have learned in school. HA!!!
#2-The chance that you will get accepted is very slim. We have 7 people applying for 1 spot. Double HA!!
It dampened our spirits for just a few minutes. We had so many great and fun things ahead of us, or so we thought.
Every day started at 7am with classes in algebra, geometry, physics. After 3pm - quick dinner mostly of noodles or potatoes, on the good day a jar of stuffed Bulgarian pepper, and on with the home work. Only after 6 or 7pm we were able to go and explore this beautiful city. I knew the fascinating history of Leningrad, but it was so different to see it, touch it, smell it. Whenever we had a chance we would visit the Hermitage Museum. Several times we took a ferry to the summer palace in Petergoff. It was a magical time. I did miss my Mom and Dad, even my annoying little brother. I missed the warmth and security of my home. But being on my own, making decisions, learning and exploring was very exciting.

Day of the entry exams. I was so nervous. First exam was a written math test. It lasted about 4 hours. I passed with the grade of 4. (Grade system is different: 1 being the worst, like an "F" and 5 being the best like an "A"). So 4 was very good.
Next day was oral math test. We would come into the classroom on e at a time, pull the ticket with 3 questions from the table. After 15 minutes of preparation, we had to answer these questions. So there are no multiple choice questions....I did not do very well. Professor kept interrupting me and asking something so irrelevant to what my questions were. I was very confused. I got a disappointing 3.
Physics and the Essay went very well, without any problems. My total score was15.
Ludmila and 2 other girls from my dorm room already failed and left, so I was in the room all by myself. On one hand, it was lonely and sad, on the other hand, more chances for me to make it. In the morning we got a word that the score to get in is 15. 15!!!! It means I made it. I ran downstairs where they displayed the list of all the students that were accepted, just to make sure. But I did not see my name. First, I thought that it was a mistake. I had 15 points, I had be on the list!
I stopped by the office to talk to the administrator. He was very nice and said the I did great, but they only accepted the certain percentage of girls and that I should try again next year.
I could not believe what I heard. I wanted to scream, to hit somebody, especially those two good looking boys that convinced me to come to this College (only now they did not seem so good looking). Disappointment, sadness, anger, gloom, humiliation. How am I to look into my Mom's eyes? I was sure that all my friends from school got into the Colleges. What am I to do? I was suppose to vacate the dorm room by next day, I had no money or place to stay. I was 17 years old and  life seemed to be over. So the only thing I could do is go home.
I did not realise back then, that it was my first LIFE lesson.

Next: 1970-1971 ~ Now What?

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