Friday, October 4, 2013

Back in the (former) USSR

The nicest part about getting back to my room was that my subletter, Ira, had washed all of the linens so that I didn't have to do it.  The day after arriving in Moscow, I had to go into EF for training and then the rest of the week for oral placement testing (OPT), demo lessons, and more training.  It was a rough week, as I was still jetlagged for all of it.  Classes officially started on September 3rd this year, and I have some comments about year two of teaching.  

This year has already been going a lot more smoothly than the last in terms of the classroom, and this is even with my new class of 4 year olds.  It was really nice to walk into a classroom of familiar faces, and even nicer when they were happy to see me as well and said they'd been waiting all summer to practice their English with me.  Even with classes completely filled with new faces, I still felt much more at ease because I know exactly how the courses work, what the exam schedules are, and generally how to be at the head of the classroom. 

Work aside, it's also really nice to be back in Moscow.  My Russian was a train wreck when I first returned (still better than September 2012, but...not good) but has already returned to its previous level, I'm already settled in with my apartment, I already have friends, and now I get to focus on seeing the people I love and discovering new things about the city.  People have asked me how I feel about Russia after going back to America, and while I loved being home, I also really enjoy being here.  A lot of stuff doesn't make sense to anyone (example: I went to the shop for apple juice.  A 2 liter box of the same brand with the same expiration date was cheaper than a 1 liter box.  Just because), but that's part of its charm in my opinion.  So, I'm going to keep on keeping on with my Russian adventure and continue my semi-regular updates in the meantime.  

Adventures in...America?

I know it's been a while, so I'm going to break the rest of my summer and my return to Russia into two posts.

I flew out of Sheremetevo airport (missed Snowden again!) on July 25, 2013 on a direct, round-trip flight into JFK, where I was met by angry parents (seriously, the attitude was unnecessary and unappreciated, please don't let it happen again next year).  Then we got to sit in traffic, and then I got the fresh lobster dinner I had long awaited (thanks, dad).  The month flew by, but I managed to cram a lot of activities into it.  I went to Manhattan to see some friends (shout outs to Chris and Lea for hosting, and to Brendan for coming up from DC); to Long Island to see more friends and learn to sail ( to come about, anyway), taste wine, and cook an awesome vegetarian meal with more-awesome accompanying cocktails (shout out to Julia and her mom and sister); to read a lot of books; to meet my cousin's beautiful baby girl; to see how my other babies have grown (and started talking? Too soon!); to get my first smartphone (which subsequently ate my life); to eat fresh oysters and clams at the Milford Oyster Fest; to drink PUMPKIN BEER, MY FAVORITE BEVERAGE OF ALL TIME; to buy stuff for normal-people prices; to drive!; to eat...everything; to spend time with family and friends (and be fed by them); to ride my bike to the beach where I sunned and swam; and, perhaps most importantly, to welcome my cousin home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan (shout out to Anthony for protecting us all).

People often asked me what the weirdest part of being home was.  The truth is, the weirdest part was that it wasn't weird at all.  For the most part, everything was the same.  All of the same people are around, the landscape is the same, I95 still sucks from 4pm-8pm, I am still a beach bum, and Whole Foods is still my mecca.  I wasn't exactly itching for Moscow in particular, but I did understand that it would be really hard for me to live there again right now.  There's not enough going on, and I can't deal with the complete and total lack of comprehensive public transportation.  While I did catch the train into Manhattan and up to Milford a few times, that's about the most useful it gets.  On August 25, 2013 I went to JFK and missed my already pushed-back flight because some people thought the time I wanted to leave was way too early, but it most certainly was not.  After re-booking and chilling in the worst terminal ever (Terminal 1, if you were wondering), I boarded my plane to Moscow, came home, and crashed.  Next up: work, which I started the next day.