Goodbye, business casual attire. See you next year slash never.

The lesson theme today was “Academia.” For the first half of the lesson, we were going to talk about scientific/academic vocabulary (parts of an experiment and vocabulary to demonstrate relationships), and for the second half we were going to talk about Russian and American education talk about the problems that Americans and Russians encounter when entering a university in their own countries and abroad. I expected the first part of the class to fly by so we could discuss the differences in higher education at length.

No such luck. The first part of the lesson centered around a matching exercise (vocabulary items included “qualitative/quantitative study, independent/dependent/control variable, population, sample, etc.) that I expected to take 10 minutes, as people with advanced degrees know and use this stuff every time they publish.  In theory, it should have been a simple matter of plugging English words into concepts they already know, a phenomenon whose rarity I now, at the end of this year, can fully appreciate. Forty minutes later, the students were still arguing with each other about the difference between an independent variable and a dependent variable. And God help me if I tried to redirect them.

Unfortunately, this meant we had a lot less time to spend on the important stuff, namely, discussing US education, which was a shame, as we could easily have talked about it for several hours instead of the 50 minutes I had allotted and the 30 minutes we wound up getting. I was pretty proud of myself for locating the perfect TV clip (sorry it’s poorly synced) for talking about American campus life and transitions from high school. I told them that I wasn’t going to tell them the name of the show, because they wouldn’t take it seriously after that, but the second it came on every person in the room who grew up under Perestroika started giggling. Apparently Buffy the Vampire Slayer was quite the rage among 20-somethings in the 90s.


At the end of the class, everyone clapped, except for the German professors, who knocked on the tables a la Allemagne (God, how are Germans always so endearing!?). A lovely time was had by all.

Yesterday Nathan’s intermediate class (his favorite class), which is awkwardly comprised of fourteen-year-old girls and mid-20s guys, took us out to the Park Kul’tury to play around. We rode the terrifying Ferris wheel (DO NOT LIKE), which served as an excellent review of basic trigonometry as I calculated the angle I would have to push off at in order to land in a basket in case of emergency. Then we played a short-lived game of Frisbee, which ended when Aleksej (an adult, thank God, or there might have been legal trouble in addition to medical) laid out and sliced his knee wide open on some sort of debris. The next half hour was spent getting a first aid kid, washing the wound, and trying to convince Aleksej to go to the hospital (he clearly needed stitches–the bone was almost visible). Then Nathan and the girls stayed and kept him calm, fed, and nicotined while I went to go find a pharmacy that was open on a national holiday so I could get more gauze and green stuff (the pharmacist refused to sell me betadine, saying it was “bad for cuts”). Aleksej finally consented to go to the hospital–tomorrow. We’ll see if he’s in class tonight, and if his leg has fallen off yet.

Nathan made tonight’s class (the one from yesterday) fried chicken, biscuits, and macaroni and cheese, ostensibly because he likes them. I think it’s because he feels bad about yesterday.

Speaking of disasters, today I only got to take the bus halfway to work because on Sovetskij, a car took the phrase “pulling out into traffic” a little too literally and left about a quarter of its paint smeared across the side of our bus. When driving down the Russian highway, you will see no signs encouraging you to, first, check for injuries and second, remove the cars to a safe place after an accident. In fact, motorists involved in an accident are expressly forbidden from moving their cars from the position of impact until the police arrive (which could take as long as 4-5 hours). This leads to the phenomenon of people who have been in wrecks stealing cones, plastic barriers, and barrels from construction sites to act as makeshift flares for their cars that are stranded in the middle of trafficky highways. Anyway, it’s pretty difficult to miss a city bus (although apparently not difficult enough), so  we didn’t have to do any of that. They just opened the door and kicked us out.

And that brings us full circle.