September 15, 2012
Day 1 in Moscow!! I flew over on Friday the 14th at 230pm JFK time on a direct flight to Moscow, where I arrived at 640am local time. Quick note about the airline before I move on to the good stuff (and believe me, it’s good): best flight experience ever, and it was a Russian airline! Aeroflot changed its name to Transaero to escape its bad reputation. The in-flight entertainment was nonexistent (no movies. In fact, the screen on the seat back in front of me didn’t even work), but I never use it so that wasn’t a problem. As soon as we took off they gave everyone a little packet with a sleeping mask & socks, and then blankets. Then juice, then dinner (I swear I asked for potatoes…and got fish. Pretty sure I misheard the options and she didn’t know what to do with me...my Russian was rusty still!!), which was an entrée, a salad (with shrimp!), the makings of a buterbrod (open-faced sandwich…I figured this out too late and ate the bread and ham separately), mousse, and wine. Then they gave everyone coffee and haagen dasz. Breakfast reminded me why I was going back to Russia in the first place – fooood. Yogurt, another buterbrod, BLINI with cherries and tvorog, and cheesecake. Then tea and kit kats. Thank you, Russians.
Passport control was a mess, as was trying to carry 3 suitcases, but my driver was waiting and super nice. He was also super excited that I spoke Russian and we were able to have some good conversation on the 45min ride to my flat. He’s from Georgia but has been in Moscow with his wife for 20yrs and spent 2 working in Siberia. He says there’s no democracy in Russia, which I’ll wait to comment on until I’m back in the States…
Getting to my flat: arrived, realized I had no idea how to get in or what was happening, tried calling people using my US phone (hey there, crazy expensive intl rates), then figured out the doorbell. Chien (roomie!!) was home and threw down the key from the 4th fl window because he was locked in…welcome to Russia!! I paid the driver for helping with my luggage, got upstairs and talked to Chien through the door for a while before sitting on the internet with my ipod (thank you for reaching the hall, wifi). The director (Masha, who was super excited to discover I speak Russian) showed up an hour later with her husband (Max), a toolkit, and a 3yr old daughter (Sonya, cutest thing ever). They couldn't get the door open and called up a locksmith, who showed up an hr later. In the meantime, Masha took me and Sonya to get food at the supermarket while Max waited by the flat w my luggage. We got back, ate in the hallway, and then watched the locksmith struggle with this ancient lock. Finally we get in, they leave, and Chien shows me around/tells me practical things about our home/job (he's been here for a year and signed on for a second). Then I shower and sleep forever, Chien leaves, Rebecca (another teacher who stayed here for 2 days) comes to get her things, and I sleep more. And now I’m unpacking! Tomorrow I will meet up with Yulia and hopefully have my very own Russian phone #..and see where my school is, since I start teaching on Monday. And this is only the beginning…but I'll always remember my first day in Moscow.