Hi all, sorry that I’ve been slow to post updates, but the apartment is still lacking in wifi (I’m writing this from a coffee shop). I made it to Moscow in one piece (sans having my Dr. Pepper blowing up on me an hour into my flight), and it’s been great so far. On Saturday night I finished my first week of teaching, which, while a bit tiring, has been absolutely rewarding! I have two days off (Sundays and Mondays), and I plan on visiting Red Square today! I work with kids of all ages, ranging from 3-17, but the average age of the kids in my classes are roughly 12 or so. They’re great and cute and want to learn, so it’s absolutely rewarding!
I consider myself very lucky to have a great roommate and fantastic apartment, plain and simple. If you’ve ever seen pictures of the old Soviet apartment blocks, that’s our accommodation. However, while the bland exterior may lead one to conclude it’s drab on the inside, that’s incorrect. We live on the 12th floor, and it’s a very cozy situation. Both Brent and I have a room to ourselves (mine is technically the living room, as I have a pull out bed/couch), and again, the word that best describes them is cozy. Looking out of the windows, the view is pretty solid-our location overlooks a school and some of our district. The biggest difference compared to home is that I’m used to seeing green lawns and a relatively more quiet setting, which naturally in a city of 16 million, that doesn’t happen.
My schedule at school is Tuesdays through Saturdays yet I don’t necessarily teach for all of them. To explain, I team teach classes, so since I get the second half of the week, I teach three classes on Thursdays. However, I also have a four hour class on Saturdays all to myself, in addition to teaching a Life Club (one hour where the goal is to get students to speak and have fun-it’s a variation on the normal classes), which depends on the time and the day. The rest of the time, I plan my classes and even help with observing or anything else I might be needed. One take away thought from this week is how much respect I have for my professors and teachers, because they need to plan for hundred students-planning takes a ton of energy!
This blog prides itself on being culturally aware, and while it’s in the infant stages of getting to know the culture of Moscow and Russia as a whole, I’ve found some smaller observations to make. While this is indicative of me, I’ve found that the McDonalds here taste and operate better than back home. For example, they have little kiosks where you can order your food in advance, then go in to pick them up. I realize I may seem like a stereotypical American (which I do my absolute best to avoid), but given the lack of other quick food options when I’m working, the golden arches are my easiest options to dine. For all the foodies reading this, I do apologize and will attempt to explore the better culinary options this city has to offer. Something I find interesting and a bit funny are the abundance of little malls. There aren’t like the ones back home, given those can take up whole afternoons. In a ten minute span, I’ve walked past at least three or four of these malls. Usually, at least what I can tell, ones here are maybe two or three stories and have some grocery stores and cell phone stores. At any rate, they are very handy when Brent and I go get coffee or need to pick up some groceries. And speaking of food, one of the reliable places we go to is a shawarma stand a minute or two away from our apartment. The guy that runs it told us he was originally from Syria, and he’s starting to get to know us given we’ve been there a few times (understatement alert). Hey, it’s cheap and it always satisfies!
Before anybody asks, alcohol can be easily bought in stores. Literally, the section dedicated to that is fantastically big. I wouldn’t hesitate to compare the selections to some bars back home-it’s that impressive. Also, yes, they DO card when purchasing alcohol, contrary to some stereotypes.
For now, this is the first week update of my year-long stint in Russia. Hopefully I can update more as I get internet access, but there’s no guarantees. Thanks for reading!