May 2009

End of Petergof 011On Friday the teachers and administrators in Petergof had a farewell party.  It was strange – not nearly as pleasant as the Christmas/New Year’s party or the Women’s Day party.  People were in bad moods, I was recovering from a headache and I just didn’t want to think about never going back out to Petergof again.

While the 90 minute commute each way wasn’t the highlight of my day, I did start to see it as my zone out time or my midday nap time three times a week.  Plus, it was nice to work both at the central school and out in the suburbs – I was able to see almost all the teachers and administrators, and had access to all of the resource books.  I’ll be happy to not be a postman anymore though, and never have to cart out reams of paper or extra books again.

The really sad part of this is that I probably won’t ever see blond Oksana again.  She’s a real sweetheart and it’s been great practicing my Russian with her, while she practices her English.  Her English skills have gotten so much better since I first came out there (not because of me or anything, she takes lessons from someone else), but it’s really cool to see such improvement without being involved in the process.  Dark haired Oksana promised that she would see me before the summer is over, probably to take me to Pushkin where her family has a little souvenir shop.  Of course, that didn’t prevent me from turning into a blubbering mess when we left.

I was so ready to just be sad on the bus back to the city.  I wanted to be sad.  But then our Advanced students came back to the school.  Apparently when class was over they got some beer together and walked to the park across the street, got slightly drunk and then decided to see if we were still at school. At the bus stop, drunk Fiona talked them into coming back to the city with us and celebrating the end of classes.  At this point I was a little bit frustrated and angry becuase, damnit, sometimes I just want to be sad and cry.  Instead of pouting about it and being stubborn, I tried to get into the mood by drinking wine on the Marshutka and then on the Metro.  Of course, that worked.  So, we all came back to the city and then we walked with our beverages around until… um.. *cough* 4:30.  About an hour after the sun started to come BACK up.


So, as I am sure you have gathered here, we teachers have very little control over our lives.  This generally includes where we live, but once in a while we get to make choices.  When I first applied, I said that I would prefer to live in an apartment.  A couple of days later I was told nope, homestay or nothing.  The next day, it was back to apartment.  Why they even asked in the first place is a mystery to me.

Now, the living situation for summer and the end of my contract is COMPLETELY up in the air and determined by many many factors, most of which have nothing to do with me.  Here’s the rundown, as best as I can explain it.  First, let’s pretend it’s yesterday.

We have 13 teachers at Language link.

4 live in the apartment on Kazanskaya – Brian, Joel, Lucy, Ashley

3 live in Bolshaya Konushnaya I (just made that up!) – Denise, Fiona, Stephanie

4 live here in BK II – Jen, Cassie, Aaron, Elizabeth

2 live by themselves or in a homestay – Becca and Andrew

Now – everybody is leaving at different times and of course Language Link wants to maximize their $ (or Ruble, as it were).  Denise just left, so there is a room in BK.  By July 1st it will look like this:

Kaz – Full still.  Joel *might/probably will* leave on July 7th – leaving one extra room

BK I – one empty room.  Fiona leaves July 7th as well.  Two empty rooms.

BKII – just Jen.  Three empty rooms.

Becca still in homestay (probably, but she is miserable, she leaves July 20th or so)

Now… After July 7th is when things start to get messy.

  • If Joel stays and Brian isn’t forced into a homestay (who knows why, but that’s the rumor right now), Jen and Steph can live together in BKI. (perfect preferred option)
  • If Joel actually goes home and Steph elects the homestay, then Jen moves to Kaz.  (second prefered option)
  • If Joel leaves and Steph moves to Kaz, then Kaz is full and BK I is empty.  Jen *might* be forced into a homestay.

There are some other little factors that one can never completely rule out here.  For example:  Aformentioned, miserable Becca might want to move into BK I, which would mean that it would be full until July 7th, when Fiona moves out.  This means that I would be in BK II for two weeks by myself.  I am not sure that this is possible – they might force me out into a homestay for that long.  I wouldn’t put it past them.

Now.  I really like where I am living.  I love the people, the apartment is nice and roomy, we have a bathtub, living room and an oven – which is more than any other place can claim to have.  If I leave here, at least a couple of people will be upset and feel hurt and I will miss living with these fun people.  Also, if I move, I might only be over there until late June – is moving worth a month?  *BUT*  I really don’t want to take the chance of being forced into some scary Russian woman’s house.  From Becca’s experience it will be terrible.  And I really love the people across the courtyard.

See how complicated this is?!  What should I do?

P.S.  I forgot to mention that I have no idea what Language Link normally does with these apartments in the summer.  For all I know, they could keep BK II and rent BK I, they could rent them both out and force both Steph and me into homestays.  I don’t like to think about this last option.

Taken at 11:20 pm, on the Neva, 3 blocks from my apartment….  How can this place be crazier?

White Nights Begining 008

food 002This is how much food I bought today and then carried about a mile back to my apartment.  Total cost was about $30, and I could not have possibly carried more home.  All I need now for the week is bread and juice, which I will get at a closer store tomorrow.  Acquiring food here is hard work.  Click picture to enlarge.

After work, I went out for sushi with Fiona.  (SURPRISE!) On the walk home, we realized that we were entering palace square (not because it was on accident, but we don’t notice it as much now) at 12:30am after eating our favorite meal, and the sky wasn’t dark yet.  I can’t reasonably ask for much more.  For that, I am grateful.

Now… on to the Russian homework.  I recently learned that they have FOUR SEPARATE VERBS for ‘to go’.  Sigh.

The new header.  I really wanted to write underneath it – ‘This is my life’.  Cause that is one CRAZY long Russian sign.

The new page ‘changes’, which has replaced ‘food’.  On this page I am chronicling the changes that I have seen in myself as a result of living and working in Russia.


On day two I didn’t feel like I was going to die from sheer exhaustion, so it was automatically better than day one.  We got up and headed toward the center, to check out a palace and walk around a church laden street to make our way toward the big show – The Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square.Moscow 114

We went into a small palace once belonging to the Romanovs, gawked at some beautiful churches and found IT – Red Square.  Denise and I went into St. Basils and explored, even getting a free mens sextet acapella performance inside, which was pretty cool.  We then ate nearby and then met back up with Elizabeth, when we decided to walk around for a bit, over the river and then go back to our hotel.  We took in the beautiful sights from the bridges, walked along a canal and through a beautiful park between the river and the canal where we took a break.

Moscow 138

That evening, Elizabeth and I sought out the one and only H&M in Russia (that we know of, in any case) and I may have spent some money… but I need clothes!  It’s not professional to teach with your pants around your ankles, this much I know.  Finally, on the the second day, we crashed, again.

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