So here I am now resident in Voroshilovskiy. My apartment is further from the office than I was led to believe – perhaps 5 minutes less walking distance in the morning, but from the other direction. And to get to the centre unless I want to walk for 45 minutes, I need to get a trolleybus or a tram.
Quality-wise it has good and bad points. It has a very small washing machine, I can only put in what I would call half-loads. My first few nights I was trying to run the washing machine through a UK extension cable and an adapter, but the adaptor was only meant for shavers so didn’t last long. Then I discovered there is an actual socket in the actual bathroom, halfway up the wall. For another couple of days I wondered why my washing machine seemed to never stop running – I would put a load on in the morning and the machine would still be running in the evening. I thought it was like a Sorcerer’s Apprentice machine that one started will never stop. The truth might be even weirder, it turns out that whenever I switch off the light in the bathroom, the socket switches off too. So I was unknowingly turning the washing machine off before I left and back on when I got home. D’oh!
Again I don’t have a normal bed, but the sofa-pull-out-job is quite spacious and truth be told, quite comfortable. There’s a TV but I missed the chance to get cable on my tariff, my next opportunity will be in November. I don’t know if I have time to watch TV (and I never thought I would hear myself saying that!). There’s no microwave, and the oven proper I can get to work, but only if I am standing next to it the whole time keeping a button pressed in. Not ideal (especially when the oven starts heating up!).
But – and I guess it’s a big but – it’s free. The shower is hot and powerful, the A/C will keep it cosy. I don’t have any curtains or doors (apart from the bathroom door and the front door), but I’m on the 4th floor, no-one is going to be looking in!
I have endured my first bout of illness in Russia, and winter has not even properly arrived. I had a head cold on Saturday and one of my colleagues went to get me some medicine, with me not speaking Russian. I usually don’t bother with medicine and let colds take their course, but now I have to think about sharing classrooms with other people, I have to do what I can to minimise the effects. I have some pills called Lovamax (Mr Lover Lovamax in my mind) and some spray called Kameton – as far as I can tell neither has any equivalent in the UK pharma market (with which I do have some familiarity from a past life!).
I did not sleep well at all on Saturday night and may have been a little delirious. I spent the whole of Sunday in bed feeling sorry for myself, eventually rousing in the evening to do a little work on my “special project” for Michael and make some food. Necessity is the mother of invention, and despite not having an oven, I managed to turn a few onions, a defrosted chicken breast, some frozen vegetables (peppers and tomatoes), some very sweet salsa and a deli wrap into a pretty decent approximation of a tasty fajita. Perhaps having a cold and not being able to taste everything properly helped, but the spicy food was certainly welcome (I was liberal with the Tabasco).
My timetable was not wholly unkind, I had to get to the Centre for my Russian lesson at 9, which I could probably have skipped without too much consequence, and then my lessons started at 2pm in Voroshilovskiy. In the event I woke up with a much clearer head, though a much heavier chest, and decided I would get more work done in the Centre than if I stayed at home in bed.
Americans Invade Russia
Today I met two new teachers, Stephen from Detroit (via China) was at our Russian lesson, like me he had learnt the Cyrillic alphabet, numbers and some simple phrases and it was heartening to see how much further advanced I am from this position now after just a handful of proper lessons from an experienced teacher. He is based in the Red Army district, which is a great distance to the south, a little round a bend in the Volga, and can only be reached by marshrutka. I should not really complain at having to travel from Voroshilovskiy for my Russian lessons!
I briefly met Janelle from Seattle on Friday as our paths crossed in central office but today she was sitting in the library trying to make sense of her schedule and how to find all the resources she needed and when she would have time to plan tomorrow’s lessons which start at 9. She was taking over my Tractorniy students today so I was able to access the journal files and give her details of the last lesson from the Russian teachers. She has had a lot of lessons dumped on her at very short notice before she really knows how the system works, or how to get to any of the offices or where to find resources, I don’t envy her.
I’m sad at handing over some of my familiar students to another teacher, but I got to teach some new students today in Voroshilovskiy, and they mostly seemed quite pleased to have a foreign teacher. It is very satisfying when you explain something confusing about English to a group of young students and hear them all go “Aaah!” at the same time. It almost makes up for the 90% of the time they are just staring at you, blank with incomprehension.