Monday, November 17, 2008

First day on the job.

So i just got back to the apartment from my first day "on the job" at the school. Irina and I walked over to the school, where I met Tatiana P. in the Svezhy Veter office. She is the young lady who set up this whole trip for me. Tatiana P. then took me to meet the other Tatiana (teacher) who will be working with me.

We started with a class of 11th graders, who all spoke English fairly well. Everyone got a chance to ask me a question after Tatiana introduced me. I sat with 5 of them during group exercises (and Tatiana with the other kids) and we went through an exercise in their language book on trips. After everyone had talked about what trips they gone on, etc, the class was pretty much over. I really don't know how much of what i was saying they understood, but everyone was really nice :-D

After that i hung out in the classroom for a little while until one of the students could come back and give me a quick tour of the school building. I had a quick lunch in the cafeteria (not very hungry cause i had a big breakfast) and we headed back up to the classroom, where we talked until Tatiana got back. I think the girl's name is Anna, and she's very nice :-) She also has a discussion group that meets every Thursday and watches movies in English, etc. I'll be joining them this Thursday, of course :-)

The next class was 7th grade, so they didn't really speak a lot of English. I was trying to remember how much French i knew in 7th grade, and what things i could say that they should be able to understand, but i think they ended up understanding about as much of what i was saying as i seem to understand whenever someone talks to me in Russian. I worked with 4 of them on sentences that they had to make up on the fly and tell me about their vacations. (they just had a break) I then had to grade them. I think any of you who know me probably know how well that went. Tatiana asked me to grade the students to their faces, actually, which was very hard for me. I would, of course, have liked to give them all a 5 (which is 100) but i didn't think Tatiana would be too happy.

One of the really interesting cultural differences is how everyone tells me that here in Russia, it is better to be blunt. Which is a pretty stark contrast to my quasi-Latin American upbringing. (where "maybe" = "no" because "no" may be rude)

Another interesting thing is about introductions. No one's really been all like "Hi, my name is." It's hard to explain, but in the US we really introduce ourselves like, right off the bat. Even if it's just a five minute thing, y'know? I mean, maybe i'm crazy, but i feel like even though i won't remember their name, it's kind of awkward if i don't introduce myself to someone that i'm going to have any kind of conversation with. Of course i may just be jumping to conclusions, but i figure i'll call things out before i get de-sensitized.

People say "so" a lot. Not in English, of course - in Russian the word is "tak". But it's said a lot ... like if you finish something you're doing, you probably say "OK", right? Well here, they say "tak". If there is one word that i will DEFINITELY remember forever, it's "tak".

Sergei plays piano very well for a 12 year old, btw. Irina teaches music at a music school, so i guess it makes sense that she would also teach her son, but she really has done a WONDERFUL job of it! They have a piano here in the apartment, and so i had the great pleasure of hearing him practice last night. I'm sure there were mistakes, but they weren't anything I could notice!

So yeah, maybe if i make a concentrated effort to help Sergei (and maybe Irina, too!) with English, it will make my presence here a little less of a burden on them.

Plus, i know that when i was learning French it would have been a great help to have a French person living in our house and teaching me. (of course, i would have preferred a female of the 25 year old sexalicious persuasion over the 29 year old married dude)

Oh, and tomorrow we're going to either an Opera or a Musical ... we haven't really nailed that one down. Tatiana said both when describing it, so i'm not sure. Either way it works out to the same, though ... i've never been able to understand what they're saying in Opera :-P

OK, well, i was going to head out to explore, but it's getting dark. I think ... oh ... wow ... never mind "getting" ... it IS dark. OK, well ... exploring tomorrow, then :-D

Tak, catch ya on the flip side :-D


Sydni said...

Sounds cool! Hope you're having a great time.

kimkipling said...

I met a Russian dude and everything you saying is what he said. He said "We are not rude. We are... Russian" I got along well with him because I'm pretty good at that whole blunt thing. Also, they do not ask "how are you?" as a plesantry. He told me they think it is unnecessary.

Have fun in Russia.

Ivan said...

Hi, how are you? ;)

It's quite interesting to read your blog and to see all these cultural differences you mentioned. But I think many of these differences really up to the situation and to the person.

2Christian: It's Ivan, and I'm leaving this sunday. So, let's (maybe) have a night out and have some bear or wine in a pub before sunday.