Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Yes Woman

So I'm three weeks in. I'm already beginning to settle into a bit of a routine (although a few long weekends have messed with that a little) now that my work schedule is pretty much sorted. My social life isn't up to much yet but I'm working on it...

First though, I should talk about teaching. I'm working for EF, which either stands for English First or Education First, depending on which bit of the company you work for. In my case, my money is on the former. 
Now it would seem that EF is a pretty big deal in these parts. It was announced last week that EF "has been appointed as Official Supplier to the XXII Olympic and XI Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014, in the category of “Language Training Services” I kid you not, they also 'supplied' English to the Beijing games in 2008. Add to that the fact that there are over 20 EF schools in Moscow and plenty more scattered around the rest of the country, and you might be forgiven for thinking that we're monopolising the market somewhat. But don't be silly, that kind of thing almost never happens, especially not in Russia. 

But aside from the tiny voice inside my head jeering at me from time to time and calling me a corporate bitch, I'm really enjoying my job. I teach just under 30 academic hours (40mins) a week, which is split pretty much evenly between groups and individuals at the moment, but that may change as we're coming up to the end of the school year. Most of my students are great, well motivated and genuinely interesting people. However I do have the misfortune of having one of the most arrogant men in the universe in one of my groups, but I don't have the energy or time (only 2 weeks left of that course) to do much about it. My last exchange with him just dissolved into a staring match. Also, on Saturdays I teach a 4 hour TOEFL exam preparation class, which is a bit of a nightmare, but again, the students are great which stops it being too boring.

So back to the social life then. On Easter Sunday I was invited by a friend form work to attend an informal bible study/worship at the home of some friends of hers, an American missionary couple from her church. Yes you did read that correctly, and no I haven't been converted, but I did meet some really great people and had an excellent time attempting to sing Russian hymns, eating cake and playing rumikub, and I was very glad I accepted the invitation.

At some point during the course of that day I decided that saying yes to things (within reason) was probably a good day-to-day strategy for meeting people and exploring more of this city. So When one of the guys I met that day offered to take me on a bit of a guided tour of the city I naturally agreed, and had a really nice day.

Since then saying yes has also meant that meeting a potential private student turned into dinner with the family and a whole afternoon learning about traditional Armenian music and dance, and tomorrow evening I have agreed to attend an ex-pat/English speakers meet-up at some American bar, with the aim of making some more friends. I did however turn down lunch with a Frenchman I met on an ex-pat forum, but I'm regretting that slightly now.

So for the time being I will be taking Danny Wallace's advice and we'll see how it goes. I've never actually read Yes Man, but I'm sure it has a happy ending, right?

This week I have learnt/discovered:
  • The rules to Mafia - my new favourite game.
  • The awesomeness of Perov and Kuindji (painters).
  • That washing white shirts with orange bed sheets is a bad idea.
  • That the Russians have a very skewed idea of temperature (hats and scarves in 20°C!?!?)
That's all for now, sorry for rambling.




  1. love Kuindji)
    nice post! and i like the endings with 'what i have learnt', very useful and motivating
    do you think i could advertise your blog among Russians learning English?

  2. Thanks! of course I don't see why not, Will have to make sure i double check my grammar and spelling though :S