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A real update!

February 27, 2013

Life here has been so busy, so I apologize for not putting up newsy posts!

Today I have a “free day” so I will try to catch you all up on what has been happening. It might be disjointed, as I just type whatever I am remembering at the moment. =) (And sorry in advance for the poor grammar, just trying to get the info up, not perfect!)

The first few weeks here, I subbed at a local school here in Domodedovo. I could have worked many more hours there had I wanted to, but I was holding out for something better. “Something better” means going into Moscow each day, which is a long commute. But for me it was worth it. And in the end, I did end up with a few better offers!

I should be getting a contract tomorrow from an agency that I have been in contact with, and who has all along been my best contact. They work with well-to-do families in Moscow and place part time and full time governesses, nannies, and tutors. I am not sure yet what my “title” will be, haha. But “governess” sounds so much cooler than “tutor.” Guess I will find out tomorrow. More about that later.

Moscow has not at all been what I had been expecting. And that’s a good thing. =) I haven’t frozen to death, in fact yesterday I walked home with no scarf, gloves, or hat and my coat was unbuttoned! It’s been absolutely wonderful! And the people have been so helpful. Granted, I do try to look for people who seem nice, and who are not busy, before I approach them to ask for directions, but still…I haven’t met one single rude person, and most of them have gone out of their way to walk with me to make sure I arrive at my destination! Seriously. I have been so impressed. Yesterday a lady out walking her dog took me to my destination and even went inside with me into the elevator and went from floor to floor trying to help me find the right floor (it’s odd here, the apartment numbers don’t match up with the floor numbers, and it’s only 3 apartments per floor, so we had to keep guessing which floor to stop at!)

I usually do ok finding the general location of where I am supposed to be, but the set up as far as street numbers/building numbers here can be confusing and sometimes I am not sure exactly where to go once I arrive at the address. But God has blessed and I have never gotten completely lost!

A “normal” day for me, so far, when I have to go into Moscow looks like this:

Leave the house at 8 AM. Walk about 15 minutes to the bus stop. Take the bus for half an hour into Moscow to the Domodedovskaya metro stop. Take the green line into the city. If needed, change lines and arrive at destination. Exit metro and walk for 15 minutes to destination. Look for McDonalds to freshen up in a clean bathroom. Grab a bite to eat if there is time. If I got to my destination too early, kill time in McDonalds by checking email. Go to appointment. And then do it all again in reverse. Sometimes stopping at a store on the way home to buy food.

More or less that’s what a day here is like. Once I have my schedule completely set, I will be able to get into somewhat of a routine and that will be nice.

I had the expat.ru site take down my listing,so hopefully no one else will be calling or emailing to have me come teach for them! It got a bit overwhelming there for a while. But now I have more than enough work, so I hope it will settle down now.

When I think of Moscow now, two things come to mind: McDonalds and the metro.

The metro here is great. Moscow is a huge city, so any time I am going to go someplace it still takes quite a while to get around town, BUT the trains come about every 30 seconds, so that’s super nice. Even with cars constantly arriving, the metro is still very crowded! I used it on Sunday and it was SO nice and “quiet” – it was about like what the tube in London is like on a normal day! So I think weekends will be my favorite times to use the metro. Other than that it’s insanely crowded. When you have to walk through the station to either exit or connect with another train (long walk between connections), it’s like playing a human video game – trying to avoid all the people that are walking in all directions. Haha, it’s kinda fun. And crazy. I wish I could put the GoPro on and video my entire day for you all to see!

People will get on the metro (as well as on the trains) and do mini sales presentations and then try to sell you odds and ends. It’s so funny. Apparently it’s illegal but no one stops them. You see cops all over the metro, but they aren’t scary and intimidating like everyone told me. I do avoid them though, just in case. I want to take my picture with them, but everyone keeps advising against it, so I haven’t. =(

McDonalds is almost the only American fast food chain you will see here. There are some Starbucks around, as well as some Cinnabons and Burger Kings. But that’s about it, and McDonalds has them way outnumbered. You will never walk into a McDonalds and see it empty or half empty. They are always very crowded, and it’s always hard to find a place to sit. Also, most of the people there will be eating alone. So you totally don’t feel weird sitting and eating lunch before you head off someplace. Everyone is doing it. McDonalds must be making bank over here. It is THE place to be. It offers free wifi, so that probably helps. They also always have a TON of seating. Usually they are 2 or 3 levels. And it’s still hard to find a place to sit! Everyone tells me that they think McDonalds tastes better over here, and I think maybe it’s true. The food HAS to be constantly being prepared due to the volume of customers, so at least that’s a good thing. And they have potato wedges that are super good. So I always order those. =)

Whenever an adult or teen class finds out that I am from Los Angeles, they all want to ask me questions about LA. At the end of class when I end with about 10 minutes of Q and A time, that’s all they want to know. What is LA like? If you are a native English speaker, opportunities abound for you here in Moscow! And if you are a native English speaker from Los Angeles, they will be even more impressed! I think I could spend several years here if God wanted me to. There is plenty of work to go around!

The job that I should get a contract for tomorrow is for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week with a family of 3 children. Yesterday I did a trial day with the kids, and the mom just wanted me to play with them. I could SO do that 3 times a week! I might end up doing some English lessons as well, we’ll see once I get the contract. But either way, I really liked the kids and they were very well behaved. They are very rich, (the 6 year old and 9 year old both had iPads, as well as lots of expensive toys and fancy rooms) and they live in a very nice apartment, but thankfully they don’t seem spoiled at all. They both seem really sweet. There is a one year old as well, but the Russian nanny looks after him. He’s a complete doll, and I did play with him some whenever he came to see what we were up to. And then there is a bird (parakeet?) that lives there as well. He has a cage, but it’s open and he just flies around the house, playing with the kids’ toys, haha. We played a bunch, and had a lot of fun, took a break to have “tea” (have you ever had tea with just a 6 year old and a 9 year old? There were several boxes of chocolates and fancy things and they kept giving me pieces to eat!)

(Last Saturday when I taught for an English club that meets at the top level of Hard Rock Cafe here, the little kids all had tea as well. It was unnerving sitting next to my rambunctious 5 year old boy who was preparing his very hot tea right next to me. But I never saw any of the kids spill it.)

God totally blessed with this position as it will be my main job here, and it’s right off my same metro line. Well, then I take a trolley bus, but it’s just straight up the street a ways. No confusing directions!

It sounds funny to consider 9 hours a week a “main” job, but that’s the way it works around here. With the travel time, each day that I go will end up being completely wiped out, so it will be like I am working 3 full days. Some of the positions like this also want you to travel with them when they go on their summer holidays. This one didn’t mention it, but it would be fun if it worked out like that! ;P Some of them spend their summers in places like San Marino (!!), Italy, or Spain and pay you much more to go with them for the entire time. That would be so awesome!

Anyways, God has been blessing me so much! One story from Saturday: I had to go into Moscow to teach at the English Club at Hard Rock Cafe and I also had to then go to Ana’s house for dinner and spend the night. So that meant having to lug all my stuff with me into and around Moscow. My laptop is very heavy, but the club wanted me to bring it, so along with my things to spend the night, my things to teach, etc, my bulky and awkward bag was also heavy. Very heavy. (I forgot to weigh it when I got home, I was going to!) As I lugged it down the icy street towards the bus stop at about 8 AM, I was just praying that God would help me make it through the day and give me strength (or something) to carry my bag the entire way. When I got to the end of our (very long) street, I saw the bus that I needed to take into Moscow, just sitting there! I went up to him and asked if I could get in, and then after I did, he took off for the bus stop. It was as if he had just been sitting there waiting for me! It was so nice to not have to walk the entire way to the bus stop, and to also get a seat on the bus, since it fills up very quickly and there were already a lot of people waiting!

Then that night as Ana and I took the train to her house, she realized that her mom’s old friend who had been invited (last minute) to also come to dinner, was on our same train! So when we got off and met up with him, she asked him to carry my bag all the way to her house, and he did. God definitely answers prayers, even the little ones! =)

Alright, that’s a short recap of some of the stuff that has been going on. There is so much more I could say, but I am tired of typing. =)

Thank you so much for the prayers! Each day that I don’t slip and fall on the ice here I feel blessed, haha. Life is so much fun, and when you know that God is in charge and watching over you, there is nothing to worry about! He is so good and I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to live here and experience such a great adventure!

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