Hey, just a quick post. I’m supposed to be at a meeting right now, but it’s a meeting to decorate bracelets, so I don’t feel bad about being significantly late. 

The day of our departure, I decided to go get some Euros before leaving. Got to the ATM and discovered that all of my bank cards (I have 4 just for good measure) were not working. Awesome. Had to borrow half of Nathan’s savings, which I’m sure he was thrilled about. Got to Malta and was told at the first cash point I visited that “I don’t think anyone in Malta accepts rubles.” Went to three places, but finally found someone that did. Also, someone take Mom out for pizza for me. I’ll pay you back. I couldn’t call anyone at the banks because I don’t have Internet (I’m in a busy cafe mooching Wi-Fi right now), and she was like “Sup, I’m on it.” And now everything’s fixed. 🙂 Hooray moms. 

We left Cherepovets by charter van for Moscow at 4 PM the day before yesterday. The bus ride was not so fun–I was in the seat next to the door, which had this annoying box (part of the power door-opening mechanism) that took up just enough of my seat to make sleep impossible. Got to the airport at 2 AM, experienced got bounced from customs agent to customs agent and finally officially emigrated, discovered that Russians are CRAZY about duty-free shopping. Especially make-up. Also liquor, but not our crowd. Apparently the big-name makeup companies–Armani (do they make make-up? I saw their name), Clinique, etc– don’t sell in Russia at all, so people stock up every time they travel. And since the prices are lower in Russian airports than European airports, they buy them and carry them around in their luggage the whole trip. Anna bought a bunch of “cheap, very nice” mascara as gifts for all her friends. She doesn’t think it’s weird.

Finally arrived in Malta yesterday at 7:30 AM (Malta is 2 hours behind Moscow). My initial impression was that Malta is a lot like Russia in disappointing ways: the roads are narrow and in ill repair, there was trash and broken glass and empty bottles of Stolichnaja vodka scattered along the beach, everything is constantly under construction, and–at least at the hotel–bureaucracy is a way of life. When we arrived, we were told that our rooms were ready, but we couldn’t have them until 3:00. 

I walked around, stuck exactly one toe in the Mediterranean (it’s cold), tried Kinnie (a soft drink made here. It’s like Bitter Lemon but with oranges), and slept for a shameful amount of time in the reception. Missed lunch. Acquired blessed cheddar cheese.

We formed a delegation to go find supper, and then when we got to the mall (problem 1), half of my compatriates (sp?) wanted to go to Hard Rock Cafe (problem 2), and half wanted to go to McDonald’s (problems 3 and 4). So Pasha and I said “No way Jose” and went to some hole-in-the-wall Asian place. I had green curry. 

My goal for the trip is to replace as many meals as possible with as much gelato as possible. 

Before the trip, Anna and I met twice to discuss our plans. The first time, she asked me to plan 5 lessons for a small group at the intermediate level. About a month later, many things had changed, so we met again. She told me to plan 3 lessons for intermediate level. Then it turned out (the night before leaving) she wanted 5 lessons, 3 at the intermediate level, 1 at advanced, and 1 at elementary. She gave me rough topics (idioms, small talk, and old English), but no other guidance. 

So I planned 5 90-minute lessons, planning on about 6 students (we had 17 coming). So this morning it turns out I’m teaching the whole group (there goes my level-specific content) a 1-hour lesson (there goes my lesson plan) on pronunciation (there goes my unit continuity). It went fine, but it was a bit of a pain. Tomorrow I’m supposed to teach the whole group a lesson on small talk. I need 90 minutes, because that’s what I planned on. Instead I have 30. I do not think that anything useful can be done in 30 minutes, especially in conversation skills, because the students will need a LOT of guided practice before they’ll be comfortable trying these things on native speakers, which they’ll be doing at a Rotary Club event tomorrow night. Whatever. It’s not my school, and I’m only somewhat invested in these guys’ progress. 

Tonight everyone’s going to a seafood place. I found an Indian place, so I’m going there by myself. Russians wouldn’t like it, anyway.

 

Right. I can be late to this meeting, but as an unofficial co-organizer of this trip, I probably shouldn’t miss it completely. Today’s photos are on Facebook if you want to see them; yesterday’s aren’t loading, but they’ll be up when they’re up.

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