Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From Russia with Love

Hello again! A lot has been going on lately, so I'll try to remember all of the important parts.  First and foremost, I finally got paid! It's like I actually have a job or something! Why is this so surprising? Well at one point, it didn't seem like this would ever happen.  You see, I don't yet have a bank card (picking that up tomorrowish, wish me luck), and normally we get paid through direct deposit.  This month I had to go to HR (for the millionth time) to pick up my registration (as a resident of Moscow) and my salary (which they tried to tell me was on my bank card, but I knew better).  How did I celebrate my first real paycheck, you may wonder.  Well, being the wild child that I am, I bought some groceries.  Still haven't paid my phone. One day I'll be an adult, but for now I'm in the "I have money for wine and eating out but not for meat" phase of my life. And that is completely fine. 

Another semi-big event is that I was observed teaching for the first time this Monday, which I'm guessing went well (judging by the zero feedback I've gotten, that is).  I didn't think I was nervous since I'd been going with the "they've spent too much money on getting me here and getting me settled, and I think I'm doing pretty well" line of reasoning, but I was apparently a trainwreck on the inside.  This manifested itself when I went to get the key for my classroom 5 mins before the lesson: first I gave myself a huge papercut, then I dropped the key in my hot tea and tried to fish it out with my papercut hand before going to get a spoon on the suggestion of the key man...and of course the door was open when I got to the room.  Luckily I had a really good lesson planned for that day, because the class being observed was my favorite: the one with the difficult teens.  My director sat in for about 10 mins in the beginning and then left as I continued my lesson as planned.  And when it ended, the strangest thing happened - a few of them THANKED me.  One of them even told me I was wonderful! I was in complete shock; THIS, coming from the class that so far has been the biggest pain in the butt? Maybe I'm doing something right! One of them thanked me today as well. It makes me giddy. 

Overall, I think I'm getting closer with my students and building really good rapport.  My adults will be finished next week, and I'm going to miss them quite a bit.  I gave one a compensation lesson today (this is what they get when they miss a certain # of classes due to illness) and she ended up asking me to help with her CV.  I was honored that she trusted/liked me enough to ask (she could've gone to any other teacher), and I ended up showing her my own CV as an example (she now has the privilege of being the only student who knows both how young I am and that I speak good Russian.  How's that for a caring teacher?).  Good stuff (as my roommie likes to say)!

What's new outside of my professional life? One is a group called English Club where twice a month there are Russian ESL students and native speakers who meet at a pub to eat, drink, and chill out as language practice.  Best part (besides new friends, obviously)? Discounted menu! Also, the thing people ask me most about: weather.  It's getting colder in Moscow and has been at a fairly steady 45-50F the past week or so.  So cold that the heat has gone on in our flat, which means business.  In Russia, you don't decide when your heat goes on - the government does.  The city turns the heat in neighborhood apartment complexes on, and there are no thermostats so it ends up getting way too hot and everyone opens their windows.  Poor Earth :(  I'm also not sure whether we actually pay for heat, as Chien tells me that he's never noticed a change in his utilities bill.  Let's hope he's right.

This obviously isn't a list of everything that's happened lately, but I think this is all of the big/interesting stuff.  Oh, and I have a group of 4 12yr old girls who are on vacation from school this week, so they get to take classes with me instead of sleeping in and watching cartoons.  We just talk about whatever, I didn't want to make it miserable for them.  And now I've covered all of the notable things going on around here, so I'll leave you before you get tired of reading! Loooove, Sarah.  

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