A year in Russia
I haven’t really done many posts about what I’ve been up to, so this will cover a few things.
In our first week at school, a guy called Maxim came into our class to promote his language school and mention that he is looking for native English speakers to help teach kids and for various other projects that his friends are running. Long story short; starting next week, for two hours on a Sunday, I now work in an immersion project with 12-15 year old kids helping with conversational English. Of course he couldn’t employ all 11 Bath students and really I think I only got the job because I’m here all year. TEFL qualification not necessary. Thanks to the 5 students from Baylor (Texas) Max had already negotiated payment at $10 an hour- less than minimum wage to you and me.
However, while slightly grouchy about the fact that I got paid more to clean public toilets this summer, Max is such a lovely guy that I couldn’t stay down for long as he has also found me some private students; two 8-year old girls who share two hour long classes each week for 600 rubles/£12 a pop. I had my first session with them yesterday and left exhausted.
Are you sure that this is a Safari Park?
On the 22nd of September, Max was accompanying a school trip as a ‘counsellor’ and invited Charlotte, Sam and I along with the promise of Lipetsk Safari Park.
Safari Park. When I think Safari Park, I think Longleat. Lions, tigers, the monkeys that destroy cars. Russia has a different concept. It was basically like someone had taken a huge field and built (but not yet finished) a reconstruction medieval fortress, then a half wooden, half tent cafe, popped up a small circus and then created a square lake. All of these parts were widely spread in a rather disjointed manner. There was also a little horse enclosure where you could ride a horse around in a circle (biggest horses I’ve ever seen) and apparently further out some llamas and ostriches. Even so, it was fun spending the day with 3 bus loads (no seatbelts) of Russian kids of all ages and just generally getting out of the city.
My first ever circus experience actually left me a bit distressed. Pretty much all of the tricks involved animals, mostly chickens and they didn’t look healthy. But I think Russian’s just have a different attitude towards animals.
More on animals: in the food court of the local shopping centre, there are tiny bird cages on all of the structural columns which don’t actually give enough room for the birds to fly. Nor do they have access to water.