Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Finally Here!!!

I have now been in Moscow for one week. My trip over went very smoothly and well. I arrived in Houston, Texas and met up with the other American teachers in the airport. We all traveled over together. We were picked up by a big tour bus owned by the school and taken to our apartments. I am living with Kristin and Ella and they are great roommates. Our apartment is about a fifteen minute walk from the city campus of the school. The neighborhood is very nice and feels quite safe. I live near two small grocery stores, a few restaraunts, coffee shops etc. Things are quite expensive here. Even at the street markets and vendors you will spend quite a bit if you eat at them often. There is a larger grocery story near the school, but we don't get a lot because we have to carry everything back with us. Also, in Europe refrigerators are quite small and ours is not very cold. So stocking up on food is impossible. You have to shop every couple days and just buy what you will eat immediately. Shopping is an adventure for sure!

This city is incredible. I feel good being here. There are people I am with that are going through a significant amount of culture shock and struggling with the immense differences between here and the states. Overall, I haven't gone through this too badly yet. Of course I have some culture shock, but I do not miss the states at all right now and am very glad I am here. I know this honeymoon phase will pass quickly, but even as it does I think I will always find this a great place to be. I am determined to be positive about everything and that attitude is kind of helping me cope with the multiple challenges I have already had to face here. I am having to trust the Lord with so many things and that has been wonderful for our relationship.

I started school on Wednesday. I arrived Friday, so this gave me a few days to recuiperate from jet lag, get settled into my apartment, see a few sites, and visit my school for the first time. I am actually teaching at the country campus, which is called Zaitsevo for the region it is in. My roommate Kristin also works there with me as well as two other American teachers, Amber and Jeff. We walk to the city campus every morning, which is called Presnya for the region it is in. We catch at big tour bus at 7:45 which picks up and takes all the country teachers to the school. Most of us that teach out there live in the city so it is about a 45 minute drive on average. It depends on traffic though of course. Yesterday we arrived back in the city in 35 minutes and coming home today it took 1 hour and 45 minutes. Books and my MP3 player are my best friends.

School here is very different in some ways from the states. For instance, school starts at 9 and ends at 5 and students can eat 3 meals a day there. The country campus is very beautiful with lots of windows, atriums, and woods behind it. It is a very wealthy school so it has classes and activities most other Russian schools do not. For instance, we have some sports, dance classes, swimming, karate, etc. In Russia, sports and activities outside of academics are just not in school. My school was the first private school in Russia and it was just started in 1993. The teachers are truly good that I see so far.

I teach several different types of classes. I am one of the 5th grade homeroom teachers. I work with two other Russian teachers who are the main teachers. They teach in Russian and I supplement in English. It is challenging because they do not speak hardly any English. Communication has been a challenge. I teach a history class on my own in English that has an emphasis on conversation. I only teach that once a week. The two teachers teach the main lessons and then I teach supplementary material in English to what they've already taught. By 5th grade most of my students speak English to some degree. Most of them have English-speaking nannies, bodyguards or tutors as well.

But my two favorite classes are teaching English to 2nd and 3rd grade native English speakers. These kids are the few kids in our school who are not Russian. Some of them are fully British and a couple are half British, half Russian. In these two classes which I teach every day, I only have a couple students. I have 4 students in 2nd grade and 3 students in 3rd grade. I also teach conversation classes to Russian students in 4th grade, as well as a few sections of what they call Handicrafts. It is basically a crafts class. That will be my most challenging. I struggle with crafts and class tends to be a bit chaotic during that time.

But I feel very accepted at the school. People seem to want to help when they can. The Russian English teachers are particularly helpful as they do some translating for me. Little by little I am picking up words, but the Russians in Moscow speak so quickly that sometimes it is challenging to distinguish. But I am determined to be forthright in learning the language. Some will come to you by just being around it, but that is not enough for me. I need to find a tutor or take some classes.

Anyway, I had better wrap this post up and show a few pictures I have taken around the school and with my students. Dosvedanya!