Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy late "defenders of the motherland" day!

Why am I so happy about "defenders of the motherland" day? Well many reasons actually. I know that I am not russian so this is not really my holiday to celebrate, but in a way I am a russian for the next little while. Now more than likely none of those who actually read this know what defenders of the motherland day is. Unless you actually pay attention. Because let's be honest it's pretty self-explanitory. Russians used to celebrate february 23rd as a celebration and a day to honor all men who were in the army, but now they celebrate and honor all men, even boys because they figure eventually all males will be in the army eventually. So you give gifts to all the men in your life on this day.

Now why is it that I appreciate this holiday soo much. Well last saturday I had the opportunity to go to victory park. Victory park is the place where Napoleon and his troops waited to get the keys to the city. They have amuseum there also that is dedicated to the wars russia has been in. Wars like WWII, The soviet war, and others. It really was a cool and interesting museum, but at the same time sad and depressing. It provoked a lot of thoughts in me. Thoughts such as gratitude to all the men in wars that have given their lives to save their people and country. Also it just reminds me that there is worse to come, and is helping me be awre so I can be prepared when more wars come.

Now the best reason of all that men's day (that's what they call it now) is so great, is that I had 2 extra days off of teaching! I love my kids and all but they really drain me sometimes! Plus I was able to go out and see and experience a little bit more of Russia!

So happy "defenders of the motherland" day! Man I can't wait till the next holiday!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A crazy day in Moscow!

Last Friday, (just a few days ago) I think I've experienced my craziest day since being in Russia! I experienced fear, stress, confusion, and many other feelings.

So early in the morning Gulya (our native coordinator) had planned for all of the moscow ILP groups to go to this university. All we really knew was that we were getting student cards so that we could get places cheaper and it also had something to do with our visas, because I guess they were student visas or something. Anyway and also Gulya was saying something about classes. All of us interpreted this as we would be taking a class at the university. But then the extreme confusion and shock came into place.

We got to the university and the next thing we know we were sitting in this room at the university and a russian lady was standing in front of us asking us the question, "what do YOU expect to do for US while your here?" That is when you look around the room to see blank and confused faces. Here we are hardly knowing why we are even here, and she was asking what we would do for them. Finally someone said we were under the impression that we might be taking a class, but later on she goes onto say that we will be teacher assistants at the university. Since we are native Americans they want us to be there to say things in normal english, because obviously english is a second language to these students. It was soo strange! Finally we left the room, got our student cards, and went back home.

However on the way home there was a guy with a long beard and shifty eyes sitting across from me. He just kept staring at me like he was thinking of how he would kill me or eat me! I was terrified! But I was sure he would get off before our stop, but he followed us off our stop and stood there for a minute until me and the girls went over to Gavin who was next to a security guard and then the guy left. Man that was lucky!

So then we went to lunch at the school, planned our lessons and taught. Holy cow teaching takes soo much energy and in a way it kind of stresses me out. My throat is always way dry from talking too much in catch-up, because you have to to get the kids to talk. Then finally that portion of the day was over.

After we got done teaching we decided we needed some cheering up because the week of teaching was soo rough, but at the same time we had to celebrate because we did make it through a full week of teaching, so off we headed to Red square!

Red Square looks soo cool at night! I loved it! Also there is this giant mall at red square! We went inside this mall the second day we were here, but we just walked through it. However when we were walking we passed a russian olympic apparel store. All of us wanted to go look in there! The stuff was way expensive. coats in there ranged from 500-1000 american dollars! you could get a hat for like 40 dollars though! We were sad! We figured it would be expensive, but not that expensive!

So then we decided to walk around red square some more and there was a bridge that went over a frozen river! I thought it sounded fun so we went up on the bridge! It was pretty cool! So at this point we didn't go all the way over the bridge. So the question was should we go back to red square or just back the other way, or just continue on. Everyone decided that I should make the decision, which in my opinion didn't make sense because they were all freexing, and I was actually pretty warm. Anyway I was feeling adventurous, so we went the rest of the way over the bridge. Then we couldn't find a metro, so we could go home! We were searching for the big red M. Soon we saw a big yellow M. Yes it was mcdonallds! Gavin in my group said that there had to be a metro close because mcdonalds was always by a metro. (he served a mission in moscow so he knows) Then as we got closer to the mcdnalds sure enough there was the big red M for the metro. So we were all going for it excited we found a metro. So we started walking for it.

But as we were walking towards it we were warped into a new world. It was really dark and there were people dressed really weird. So many drugged and drunk people and I seriously felt like I was in a spook alley or something, and wondered if I would make it out alive. Finally we did indeed make it inside the metro station and we got on the metreo and made it home safely.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

1 week down!

I can't believe that this time last week, I was in Red square straining to keep my eyes open. While I thought Russia was awesome. I kept asking myself why I was here in Russia, what on earth possessed me to come half way around the world. And in just a week, my whole perspective has changed.

Now I feel like I have lived here forever, this feels like home. Now don't get me wrong I do still miss my family and friends back home, and water! I miss my bed and normal food. But everything here is great and a new experience.

Now this week, the only way we have been culturized to Russian culture is by the food. Everyday a new thing, while it is different it is also very good. Also they feed you a ton at meals. Also school food is gross in America, while in Russia, it is pretty good. Some of it is weird but it's good.

Now as far as lesson planning and teaching goes. It is extremely exhausting! But it will all be worth it in the end, my kids are soo cute and smart, but full of energy just as every kid is. I think it will be a great learning experience for me to learn how to teach these russian kids english.

I truly am having a good time, and I could not ask for a better group. We have soo much fun together. Even when the tiny elevator opens instead of the big one and we all squish in just for the fun of it!