My schedule, like my health, is starting to stabilise.  This week all my lessons were in Voroshilovskiy or Sovetskiy with the exception of two (back to back) in Dzherzhinskiy to cover for another foreign teacher who is away on holiday.  My schedule for this week is just my main two locations.  While Sovetskiy is a half-hour marshrutka ride away, the marshrutka practically passes my door so getting home is a lot quicker than travelling back from Tractorniy, for example, and probably about the same amount of time it takes me to get back home from the centre now.

I still have to go into the centre on Mondays and Fridays for my Russian lessons.  As well as Stephen we have now been joined by Janelle and Brianna, the new American teachers.  Janelle has been here a week now, she at least knows the Russian alphabet and a few phrases.  Brianna appears to have arrived totally blind, and found it hard to follow the first Russian lesson.  She only arrived the night before, her luggage had gone missing, she had no blanket and had not been able to sleep, and she was already being scheduled for lessons in distant offices like Tractorniy and Sovetskiy.  She will need to find her bearings quickly! (fortunately the airline has since found her luggage).

Janelle survived her first week despite some pretty intense scheduling, and I’m starting to realise that I actually had it relatively easy by comparison.  Poor Stephen is all on his own in the Red Army District (Krasnoarmeisky Rayon).  John, the sophomore American teacher and Ale took Janelle out the previous weekend (while I was struggling home with the beginnings of my cold) and this week he tried to arrange something similar with all the foreign teachers.  In the event Janelle and Brianna were too tired to come out, Stephen had other plans, but he managed to lure Peter from the Volshky office (another city about 45 minutes away on the other side of the Volga).  This was the first time all of us had met him.  Ale and Sara, his friend from Azerbaijan also came along to make 5 of us.

Peter speaks quite good Russian and has spent a year in another Russian city before coming to Volshky.  We asked him what it was like in the other city – pretty boring apparently, and he doesn’t go out much.  He was pleased to have the chance to come and talk with other English speakers for an evening, even if he had some difficulty finding a taxi back to Volshky around midnight!  Fortunately Sara works for a taxi company and was able to help him out.  The rest of us decamped from the restaurant to John and Ale’s apartment, Ale went to bed early and the rest of us played chess.  John and I had a couple of pretty intense, competitive games and we finished 1-1 – I’m quite happy with that not having played anyone in years.

I didn’t think it was worth getting a taxi home, I had warm clothes, my tablet and headphones to play music, so at around 3am I found myself walking up Prospekt Lenina back to my apartment.  It probably took about 35 minutes and I felt awake and alive and a connection with the city I was walking through.

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