One of my semi-students stopped me in the hall to scold me. She saw the pictures of Cherepovets I’ve put up on Facebook, and she’s concerned that you, my dear readers/viewers, will think that I “live in a hole.” Do you, my dear reader, think that I live in a hole?

Yesterday, 4/18 students showed up to my PR class. Turns out they were at a conference and neglected to tell me.

Today I was asked to talk about racism twice and gender roles once. I picked this clip to jump-start a debate on gender and then this film for racism. 

1. My computer is broken.

2. My printer is also broken. 

3. The outlet in the classroom for my first class didn’t work (=no speakers), which threw off my NPR podcast-based lesson. 

4. There was no screen in that room to project my powerpoint.

5. That didn’t matter, because my powerpoint wouldn’t load.

6. Class 2 was on gender roles. It took me a really long time to plan because  I had to find a good video, ensure that it would work (it didn’t), find an article, gloss the article, and be sure not to say anything illegal.

7. Turns out the teacher hadn’t intended me to teach a lesson. She wanted me to listen to/comment on student presentations on topics such as “The Role of the Housewife”, “Types of Men”, “Single Mothers”, etc.

8. In talking about the role of the housewife, the student was very careful to mention that even though the wife has many responsibilities around the house, she should take care to look nice. Being busy is no excuse not to wear makeup, ladies.  

9. When I brought up stay-at-home dads, I was met with blank stares. The general opinion is that every woman is equipped and eager to be a stay-at-home mom, but only an “especially moral” dad has what it takes.

10. One student told a story about a friend-of-a-friend who married an army man. He, as is his right as A Man, expected his wife to make him supper every night and stay at home while he went out and did Man Things.  The wife couldn’t take it, and they’re now in the process of getting a divorce. The moral of the story, according to the student who told it, is that women need to be better prepared for the demands of married life. This is 2012, you guys.

Now, I knew that gender equality was in, shall we say, a different place in Russia than in the US. I was prepared. But even at home when gender inequality is apparent, it’s usually from men. For women to collectively make what to my way of thinking are misogynistic comments is bizarre. And I disenjoyed it. Anyway, after seeing where they stand on that issue, I think I’ll leave my discussion on the reverse gender gap for another day–or decade. 

11.  I had 7 minutes to get lunch between that adventure and  before my Russian Philology class.

12. But the food-stand was closed,

13. and the other food-stand had a long line,

14. made longer by some students who cut in line (by this time I had 4 minutes).

I knew that going to class was pointless–I was tired and stressed and hungry and therefore wasn’t going to understand what was going on anyway, but I wanted to go out of respect for the professor. Valentina decided I looked stressed and offered half of her sandwich, then, as usual, promptly forgot the meaning of the phrase “Nein, danke”. By the time I finished the sandwich and cup of tea, I was 20 minutes late. 

I determined that a profuse apology would be sufficient for arriving 20 minutes late, so I went to the classroom, opened the door of what I thought was our room–and saw a completely different class. This happened 2 more times. By the time I got to my office to check the room number, I was half an hour late. I decided that to show up that late is about as disrespectful as not coming at all, so I opted for the latter, heading to the cafeteria to drown my sorrows in borsch. 

The final class of  the day was Russian Philology and Journalism.

15. Only 4 of my students showed up (another conference, apparently), and we had a lovely discussion that almost made up for the midday stress. Although I still feel guilty about missing Russian Philology. 

I got out of class late (which I didn’t mind–the students had questions, which is always great), so

16. Kosta had already gone home and locked the office door. This means that I have no coat or hat or gloves or textbook for tomorrow. Fortunately, it hasn’t been too cold lately–let’s hope it stays that way for at least one more day. 

All this was mostly made up for by schwarma for supper, Cheetos and bitter lemon for dessert, and a successful round of birthday present shaking. 

More good things:

The Katjas are getting together for my birthday on Sunday!

I have birthday presents in the room!

Tonight is brownie-making day!

We’re getting a modem tonight, so hopefully all these technology SNAFUs will no longer significantly diminish my quality of life.

Tomorrow is Effective Friday, as I don’t teach on Real Fridays. 

I got invited on a trip to Finland with a local English school! Unfortunately, I can’t go, because it’s during the school year, but the head of the school semi-offered to teach me Russian in exchange for my attending a weekly conversation hour with her students. 

Nathan brought home some cute cookies that look like this. I call them vegetables.

I’m sleeping in tomorrow.

Apparently the other native English-speakers in town (a Welsh guy and a Texan) want to get together tomorrow for lunch. Should be fun.

The four journalism/Russian Philology students that came to class yesterday invited me out. I like them.

I’ve discovered a route home that not only has more trees than car accidents, but also leads me past a cookie factory and a shashlyk (Russian barbecue) stand. How many of you can say that your commutes are fragrant?