Just another day and another street crossing in Russia.

For the second time in two days, my students did not show up to class. Not a single one. Last time, this was a result of my having been told the wrong number (possessive passive present perfect FTW!), so I went down to the office to see if anyone knew what was up. Anna went off to see if the students were stuck in a crevice or something. Apparently I looked stressed, because Varvara and Valentina set about making me tea, despite my repeated refusals. Then, from nowhere, the students appeared (I had, in fact, been told the wrong room number). Varvara told them to go to the classroom and wait while I had my tea. They literally would not let me go teach my class until I had finished my tea. And chocolates. So class started a bit late. Thank God there’s no gowning out here.

The class was the PR department, who are not my favorite group. They’re good kids, but they aren’t as attentive as the other classes, they talk amongst themselves in Russian A LOT, and only 3 of them ever participate. I think I’m asking more of them than they’re used to, so they get scared and don’t want to talk. I might tone it down, but then again, they did actually manage to do the work at a good level. So they might just have to suck it up.

If you decide to darn a stocking while still wearing it, you are likely to find yourself sewn into your clothing.

After class Valentina decided, once again, that I looked stressed or hungry or both (in fact, I was neither, though I was nevertheless appreciative of her attentions). She gave me her sandwich (she does this a lot, and I really wish she’d stop, but I reiterate, there’s literally no way to refuse food in a way that a Russian will understand), and we had tea together. She grew up in a closed city, which basically means that there’s some sort of military industry there, so for security reasons, no foreigners can come in, and citizens can only leave under very specific circumstances. So she went to university and majored in German here, but never met foreigners, let alone Germans, except once when the very exciting opportunity came to be a maid on a cruise ship in her junior year. She didn’t travel to Germany until 1997 (she was studying in the early 80s).

The head of the Germanic Philology department, Galina Nikolaevna (not to be confused with Galina Nikolaevna, the head of the Germanic Foreign Languages department–no joke), is at a conference in Germany this week, so I have to cover her class of master’s students. They want to talk about foreign language education. Since they’re older, more educated, more mature, and more smarter than I, I’m doing a discussion-based class rather than an actual lesson. I haven’t had to plan and lead a discussion since Humanities. It really would have been nice if, instead of just assigning us discussions to lead, they had spent a class or two talking about HOW one plans and leads an effective discussion. Then I might actually use my Humanities classes in my daily life, other than occasionally being able to say “Oh yeah, Herodotus/Rousseau/Caputo…what did he do again?”

There’s a man, an employee only slightly less new than I, who has a desk in the corner of the office. He appears to be a secretary of sorts, managing schedules and keys. I did not know his name, so in my head, I called him the Key Gremlin. Turns out his name is Kosta (Kostadin). I discovered this yesterday when he brought me a bag of apples he picked at his dacha (cabin in the country). Now I feel bad.

More pictures! For some reason, they didn’t all upload yesterday.

Image

Nathan will tell you that we took this picture in the only green place in the city just to trick you. Don’t listen to him–it’s not true.

Image

Flowers!

Image

A poorly-located but cute dacha situated between the highway, the steel mill, and the train tracks. But isn’t the woodworking cute?

Image

The Super And Power Gun: it is the real of self-expression!

Image

See, the thing is, this guy already has a name. And “Mr Proper” isn’t it. Also, it doesn’t make sense.

Image

All this tea is mine! I mean, ours.

Image

The advantage of the sun rising late (about 7:30 now) is that I get to watch it every day!

Advertisements