Thursday, January 11, 2007

Do svedanya, Moskva

I have news... I have quit my job & I'm leaving Moscow tonight - night train to St. Petersburg. Why, you ask? Hmmm, because teaching English may just be the worst job ever. I never expected to love it, but it's positively unbearable. I did think I'd be able to stick it out, but after my little New Years holidays, the thought of going back into a classroom was more than I could countenance. Why so horrible? Well, being in front of the classroom can be hard, but it's not even the worst part. I think the worst part was that, apart from the weekend and last thing at night when I arrived home at 10 or 11 pm, I didn't feel like I had a moment to relax. From the time I got up in the morning (not super early, maybe about 10.30 am), it was like I always had somewhere to be. I would have to get up, rush through getting ready, off to school to plan or for Russian classes, back on the metro to get to where I had to teach etc. etc. Every time I sat down for lunch or to check my emails or what have you, I was always thinking, "Half an hour and then I have to catch the metro to school x". Hours of planning for classes, photocopying, finding extra activities, trying to get obscure grammar points into my own head so I could hope to communicate them to the students... Then hours commuting on the crowded metros every day... Then hours of teaching... And then I find out that one of my classes complained that my lessons "weren't dynamic enough" which is patently the administrator's euphemism for "boring". It's not as though I thought I was a good teacher, but it's still crushing to be told that it's so. The benefits of staying in Moscow - learning the language better etc. ultimately were outweighed by how much I hated the job. Hats off to all the EFL teachers I know who manage to put up with it!

So, what next? Well, St. P. as aforementioned, until Monday, then it's a flight to Manchester, where, fortunately enough, the parental units have their abode until the 19th. After that, I really don't know. I would like to stay abroad for a while, but I'm pretty broke, and even if I did find a job straight away, it costs huge amounts of money to get set up in a flat etc. So, it might be back to NZ sooner than planned, we'll see.

Gwan presents:


The stalls on the side of the road selling (usually one type of item per stall) bread, juice, alcohol, salami, fruit and vege, etc. etc. - so convenient!

Being able to practice Russian, and yes, I've come a long way from my excrutiatingly halting speech at the embassy in Prague, where I couldn't even remember the word for 'thank you'. Unfortunately, there's still a huge way to go, and I don't have many opportunities for polishing the old Russian at home...

The efficiency, speed, and scope of the metro

The amusing examples of 'Russlish' around the place. The other day I saw a wannabe tough teen boy wearing a jacket with 'Warm Angels: Look for the beauty all around you' on the back ha ha. Then in the Okhotni Ryad shops the other day there was a t-shirt with 'Only for queens' on it - I wished I knew one to buy it for. There was also a shop called:
Beautiful People
which I thought was nicely appropriate...

Some of the ads on TV. The 'esli tolko bui Antonio byl zdyes' (oh, my transliteration sucks!) ad for crab-flavoured Lays, the excrutiatingly cheesy Sportsmaster ad... And everyone's favourite fund, 'negosudarstni, nepensioni fond - GAZFOND!' (if my translation is correct, the slogan is 'non-governmental, non-pension fund - Gasfund!' - 'catchy')

Stardogs. Mmmm, streeeet meeeeat

My lovely flatmate

Not living out of a suitcase, d'oh!

Wandering past onion domes and statues of Lenin

Snow - for the few weeks that there was snow, that is

Doing the metro dance - if you need to avoid walking into people, 'it's just a jump to the left, then a step to the right'. Well, I'll sort of miss this...


Walking through the park of death

Teaching (well duh)

Hordes of people on the metro

Make that hordes of people WHO SMELL on the metro

The blank Russian stone face - best viewed on the metro - I dare these people to crack a smile

Foreigner prices for all the attractions!

Packs of stray dogs - I read there's an estimated 230,000 but that seems kinda low to me

Packs of militizia. There must be fifteen million different types of cops and soldiers running around Moscow. They're mostly very young (there's still compulsory military service) and disturbingly trigger-happy-looking and they obviously believe in strength in numbers.

All the little discourtesies of Moscow life - pushing, elbowing, cutting in in line, letting doors swing into your face, etc.

Endless perekhoding about underground - walking between metro lines

Being cold outside (sometimes) and (inevitably) roasting inside

Mutual lack of understanding when I try to speak Russian or Russians try to speak English

When there's no snow - mud everywhere. I come home every day with it splashed halfway up my calves. Particularly notable on the walk of death.

Everything being endlessly under construction or under repair


The English language. Yes, I know I've been living with an English speaker, working in an English-speaking environment, reading books and newspapers, watching the odd movie, etc. etc. - but still, much as I like being in a foreign-language environment, it's been over 4 months now since I've been in an English-speaking country, and it will be a relief to be 100% sure of making myself understood at the pharmacy or a cafe or whatever, being able to turn on the TV and actually watch something other than sport or music videos, to not have people come up to me on the street (which happens all the time here, for some reason) and start spouting rapid, incomprehensible sentences at me, etc. etc. It is surprisingly easy to live in a country where you don't speak the language well (Russia) or hardly at all (Czech Republic), but it's a lot easier to live in a country where you do.

Seeing family & friends back in the UK

Things like decent chocolate, hummus, feta, pesto and the like which are apparently unobtainable in Moscow - or, to exaggerate slightly less, at the very least, at my local supermarket and productis.

I'm sure there's more things I could add to these lists, but for now it's home to pack. Wish me luck catching the train without incident! I suppose I'll catch you all next from the UK.

1 comment:

  1. There must be something in the returning home too! I like teaching...just not teaching EFL!! I miss England and it's time for me to put down some roots now near friends and family. Have you thought about returning to Prague?

    Well whatever you end up doing, best of luck, and follow your heart!

    Lauren xx


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