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Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 4!


Dear Family and Friends,
                Happy week 4 to you guys!!!! How is everyone? I can’t believe that in 5 days that I will have been here a month already! I can’t believe how fast it is going! It kinda freaks me out. Last night I had a dream that I went home in September. I go through my whole dream and then I realize that wait… I’m not supposed to be home yet!! So I start running to mom to try to figure out why I am home and why I can’t go back and then… I woke up. Some dream. Btw I dream all the time here. I used to never remember my dreams in America, but here I always do. And I have some really bad ones which sucks because I usually call mom after bad dreams!
                This week went really fast and not too many exciting things happened. I’m starting to get into my life here and there somehow becomes less to write about. But, nonetheless I do have some fun stories for you! First off, I’m not sure if it’s my email or what, but Brent you said you emailed me and I didn’t get it, and Daniel, I def didn’t get an email from you last week. So…. Idk about those two?? But I will just get to telling you about my week!
                So like I said my week is busy! I finally have a set schedule down and it was my first week actually following it! It’s so nice to only be teaching at the private school! It’s about a 25 minute walk from my house and they are the nicest school! I really got lucky that I get to teach there. I hear about everyone else’s schools and kids and I am just like wow, suckstosuck! So my schedule is as follows:
Monday: 11:45-12:50 Kindergarten,  2:50-4:00 1st grade B class
Tuesday: 4:10-5:20 Level 3
Wednesday: 2-3:10 1st grade B class, 3-4:10 1st grade A class, 4:20-5:20 Level 3
Thursday: 11:45-12:50 K, 3-4:10 1st grade A+B class
Friday:  9:50- 10:55 K, 3-4:10 1st grade B class, 4-5 level 3
                So as you can see Wednesdays and Fridays are my long days. Wednesday is the hardest because I teach 3 classes back to back, but being busy like that makes it all go by so fast! I know it doesn’t look like that much, but once I am at the school in the morning, I just stay all day and work on getting activities ready and lesson plans. So teaching does take a lot of time. There is time to go out at night, but we are usually all pretty tired, although sometimes we do. Its been good to get into a routine. It makes me feel like I belong here that much more! So now that I have my class I want you guys to hear their names! You know how you pretty much add an O to everything and call it Spanish? Well here we add an A to all the names and it magically is Russian!
K class: Paulina, Artyom, Mark, Ksusha, Ulyana, Misha, Marsha, Pateon
1st A: Misha, Alesha, Danila, Nikita, Vika, Regina
1st B: Vania, Phillip, Sonya 1, Sonya 2, Paulina 1, Paulina 2, Stefania, Erika, Tereinty, Mita
Level 3: Peter, Nick, Mary, Nastya
                So those are all my kids! They are all cute in their own ways! I still have trouble loving my B class as much as I love my A class because B used to be Alicias class. They are also kinda bad, so I always feel like I am whipping them into shape. I definitely love my A class a lot more! But B is slowly coming around. They really love Alicia, so its hard to teach them sometimes because when she team teaches with me, they don’t want to leave her side. But as soon as they see what activity we are doing, they are all for it! Lets be real, you guys know the activities I do are precious and beyond amazing!
                You guys know how I was super worried about my level three class? Well guess what?! They are so good for me!!! They were TERRIBLE for Jake when he taught the class, but its like a whole new class now! I was really dreading teaching them because of all the stories I was told about them flipping desks and acting crazy, but it turns out that with me they are completely different. So say that Jake was upset to hear this would be an understatement. I’m not going to lie and tell you that this bothered me one bit :) My first class with them was Tuesday! I walked in and I read to them the rules. I was very strict and I told them that if they are bad class will be boring, but if they are good then we will make class fun. I didn’t think that they would listen or care, but class has been going really well! It actually is becoming one of my favorite classes! And the teacher that is in charge of all the English classes at my private school told me that the kids love my class! It makes me happy! I try to find as many games as possible to play with the kids to make the class interesting, but yet they are still learning. It requires a lot of time to figure out how to make spelling and grammar fun, but it’s been paying off. I’m happy :)
                Last Saturday we went to Red Square and went inside the Kremlin. There are multiple things that we can see when we go inside the Kremlin, but we bought tickets to see the multiple churches. They were very beautiful, and so well painted. From the ceiling to the floor is covered in paintings, and they use so much gold everywhere! They also have all these clothes, paintings, crosses, and much much more ranging from the 14th to the 17th century. It is so cool to see so many things that are so old! One of the churches had many of the Tsars buried in them. One had Ivan the Terrible! I’m not sure why he was buried there and kept there if he was so terrible, but who am I to judge? It was really great although it is hard to go out on Saturdays. I’m always so so so tired. I feel like I can’t ever get enough sleep and Saturday is definitely one day that I want to stay in and get some rest, but usually we go out. And the churches are really cool, but they all start to run together, and we all got pretty sick of them pretty quickly. After about 2 hours we were starving and fed up with Russian history so we told our head coordinator that we were done and about 5 of use headed to Arbott street. Arbott street is basically like Beal’s street (is that how you spell it?). It has tons of really nice shops and touristy shops, food, drinking, music, people painting, people dancing, and lots of other fun things. The main thing it has that we fully support is American food!! We went to Wendys and basically stuffed ourselves full. It was so good! Some of it tasted a little different like the frostys, but mostly it tastes the same. I was so full afterwards, but they wanted to go to starbucks and of course I find all these good treats that America doesn’t have so I bought one. It was this cake/mouse/peanut butter/carmel thing and it was so good! One thing Russia doesn’t really have it Peanut Butter! It is extremely hard to find (I’ve never seen it) and it is extremely expensive, so no one really has it. But here I go an buy this great dessert and it has some peanut butter in it! Man I don’t think I could have been happier! We ended up sitting in Starbucks for 5 hours talking about what girls always talk about: Boys. Jake was with us and had his head down the entire time. Towards the end he raised his head up and said “I cannot believe that girls talk about boys this long! As a guy we talk about girls for about 15 minutes and sometimes we ask the question, how long do you think that girls talk about us? And then we say oh maybe about 30 minutes, but now I know! You guys talk about us ALL.THE.TIME!!! And that means that everything I have ever done to or with a girl has been discussed just like this….” This made me laugh super hard! We told him that every single thing he has done or said to a girl has been analyzed by not only that girl but her closest group of girlfriends, and if she is like me then also by her family. His horrified face was priceless!!!
So this week I found some seriously yummy things in the grocery stores!! First and foremost I found these cheesecake things for like 30 cents! They are either white cheesecake or chocolate cheesecake and then they are dipped in chocolate. They have fillings like strawberry or carmel in them too! Oh my gosh they are so good! Next I found this ice cream for like 1 dollar that tastes like frozen yogurt! And then on Friday I found this ice cream that comes in a bag. Its really weird, its just a block of ice cream in a bag. Mine was chocolate and chocolate chips. I bought it and it was probably 6 inches long and like 4 inches wide. We were planning to go somewhere after we bought the ice cream so I bought it opened it, saw how big it was, was concerned for like 2 seconds, and then ate the whole thing in like 5 minutes. It was really weird to have to bite into the block and to hold it using the bag, but lets be real, it was a dream. Lo you would have loved it! I also bought stuff to make alfradeo sauce and successfully made it this week using all the ingredients I could find! It was yummy! Oh and every week I promised to make my level 3 kids American food if they behave during the week. Last week I made a bootleg version of puppy chow. I didn’t have the chex mix so I used a corn flake cereal instead. Not the greatest, but they loved it! I was like this isn’t even half as good as the one I make in America! I want to make no bake cookies sometime because its so easy, but I don’t have dang peanut butter! Totally lame!
This week I learned the lesson that being American means that guys like to throw themselves at you. This week I found out what it’s like for a guy to ask you to sleep with them. And this week I found out that I don’t like when guys are forward. Being American has its perks and it has its annoyances too. If I am by myself I can pretty much blend in with the rest of the crowd. If I am in a group and I start speaking English, my whole “Russian” cover is blown! Lets be real. I have 4 things that Russian girls don’t have: curves, big boobs, a fluent English vocabulary, and a green card. As flattering as it is, I would like to tell the Russians that they should really focus on the supermodel of girls they have here. But nonetheless it makes for some great stories! Wednesday night we decided that we would meet up with some guys that April met at the metro. She didn’t know them well and they kinda just got her number and wouldn’t stop calling, but we decided that we would give them a chance. Me, Em, April, and Jake went. Jake wasn’t happy. He was annoyed we were so giggly and being stupid with the Russian boy, but he decided that he had to protect us. We thought this was annoying until later on in the night. We met up with Shimil, who I should tell you is a very good looking Russian boy. And I could tell right off that he was going to be interested in one of us, the question was who. He took us to this really cool place called Victory Park. It’s a WWII momument and it is amazing at night! So beautiful! We were just walking around, Shimil speaks no English except for a few things a friend taught him, and he asks if we have boyfriends. We all say no we don’t. April looks at her watch and realizes that she needs to go home. So we start to go back. Everyone besides me lives at Melodozna, I live at Strogono. So Shimil looks at me and points to me and says “Me, you, Strogono?” and then puts a finger over his lips and says SHHHHH. I was like um def not okay! And then he tried to hold my hand! And he kept starring at me! It was so awkward. I don’t know what to do with attention like that! He was SO forward! And I just kept shaking my head! Later he was like “I want to kiss you” (this is one of the phrases his friend taught him) and I was like hahahahah no you don’t a kiss is this and then showed him in the air. And he nodded and was like yes, I want to kiss you and I shook my head again. Then he pointed to his face and made a face as to say “Whats wrong with me? Why can’t I kiss you?” Pretty much the night ended in him wanting to walk us to our houses and come up and Jake finally speaking for the first time tonight and telling him to go home and leave us alone. Awkward. I mean at least take me on a date before you ask me to sleep with you! I have some morals!! Other then that I had two Russian guys come up to me when Emily and I were talking and were like “Please, I’m Russian!!!” and I shoved him off and said and I’m American so move along! And then I was talking to Emily on the metro and all the sudden I see a guys head pop out behind her head to look at me. Yes, I know I’m American!! Goodness you would think that we were really cool or something! We told our head coordinator about Shimil thinking she would be shocked and surprised. When we got done she was like “Yes, he is a normal Russian guy. Any normal Russian guy is going to want to have sex with an American girl.” Well now that she put it like that….
A lot of you asked about the cute gym teacher so I thought I would update you. He is beautiful. Like no joke! Looks like Adam Levine and David Beckham mixed! But he is also beautifully married as well. Totally tore my heart out! But its still fun to run into him at the private school. He speaks English and no matter if I’m rushing by and he sees me for like a split second or if I’m just sitting he always comes and talks to me in English. Its precious. Our conversations are very quick and superficial. One day I need to actually ask him his name, but I’m usually too busy. One time I was talking to him as I was walking by so I’m walking and looking back and talking and I totally ran into another teacher. Awkward…. Did I tell you guys that a couple of weeks ago that Babushka walked in on me naked? And that she didn’t even act like she cared. She was just like oh opps and walked out. I was like okay I would like that to never happen again!
                A Lot of you have asked me about my address, so I finally got it figured out! It is as follows:
                                123592 Russia Moscow
Kulahova Street
25-1-238
Shipilova, Hailey Hodgkiss
Russia
                So that way you guys can send letters and *cough cough* packages!! I of course will respond when you guys write! I’m not sure how well the mail works, but it’s a big city so it shouldn’t be that bad. Aly & Lo- I expect your letters soon! They will go to Gulya’s house so once you send them I will just pick them up there. I’m excited!! :) This week we have Friday off and we are taking off to go to a few of the towns in the Gold Ring. We will be spending the night in the monastery! I am pretty excited to go away for the weekend! It’s going to be a blast! I hope that you are all doing well! I love you all so much!
 
Love,
Le Le

~Until Next Time,
      Muah~ 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 3!!!


Week 3!
Dear Family and Friends,
                Week 3! It seems so serial to say that! 3 weeks doesn’t sound very long, but I feel like I have been here forever already! The weeks go by so fast but then when I tell people how long I have been here I always think “That’s it?!” So this week was CRAZY! Sorry to Lins and Aly for just dropping off the face of the earth in the middle of the week. I had my schedule changed like 5 times this week. I think I finally have an official schedule. I’m a little bummed. My 1st grade catch up class (my favorite) is now being taught by Alicia, but I’m trying to stay positive. I know that I will come to love Alicia’s class that I will now be teaching just as much. I figured out that the reason I love my old class so much is because they are a little product of me, and lets be honest, they are better than Alicia’s kids. But I will change that! I think it must be how you (Mom, Heather, Annie, & Kate) must feel as a mom. They start to do things like you and pick up on your personality. Gosh its so cute. My old class says “You’re crazy!” just the same way I do. And after we sing a song that take a lot of energy they always like fall back as if they are really tired like I do. It breaks my heart that I’m not teaching them anymore. But more to schedule changes later!               
                Exciting things to look forward in this weeks email:
-          Hit on twice
-          Got kissed
-          & my principal at my private school asked about my sex life!!
Monday night I taught for my last time my level four class. I will no longer teach this class because all the kids were moved up to level 5 because I really only needed to be teaching at my private school. I’m not too bummed because this class drives me crazy. They look at me like I’m an idiot. They make me feel completely unqualified to be there. I would think they were right, except for the fact that I’ve been speaking English for like 19 years. I guess when it comes to teaching though I am unqualified. I see the same smirk on their faces that I probably gave many teachers. You know the one. The one that says “Go ahead, tell me what you want, but at the end of the day I still no more than you.” I try to talk to them about my life so they see me more as a person, someone to relate to, but honestly sometimes it just sucks. They are very sweet though! Its  just getting them to talk is like pulling teeth. I got a new student named Mark. He is 11, and probably my favorite. Okay, okay, I’ll admit it. I favor boys and the brighter students, and when the brighter student is a boy it makes it like 10 times better. I guess it doesn’t really surprise me since I usually relate better with boys anyways. Mark is about 4 years younger than everyone else and he is smart. He has a very limited filter and this just makes me like him more. He was trying to tell me what he does for fun, which I guess is some kind of martial arts or something. Anyways he was like “So when I come on Friday my (he pulls at his cheeks) will be red. And I will smell.” And he held up his arms as if he stunk. I lost it. Totally spit out my water I was drinking. His accent is so funny. They all have these key phrases they say and things they do. When Alice can’t think of a word in English she says “One minute, one minute” and tries to figure out what she wants to say. Alyona just looks nervously at Alice to come to her rescue when she can’t remember a word. The most I got them talking was when I drew them each on the chalk board. Alice kept saying “Very good Ms. Hailey, very good!” and Mark kept erasing their noses and mouths. After I was done they all started standing how I drew them. I guess I didn’t really give Mark very much space between his neck and his shoulders because he pulled his shoulders up to his ears and stayed that for at least 10 minutes. We all laughed. What did drawing them have to do with anything, you ask? Oh it was part of a grammar lesson on subjects and predicates. Don’t laugh, I will do anything to get these kids to talk.
                Tuesday was teaching at my private school with the catch-up group. I had meetings in the morning and then I headed home and got ready for teaching. Not that it matters, I mean they don’t even know how to say you look pretty in English. For my activities I read the Three Little Pigs and we attempted the game Memory. Reading a book to children that don’t know what you are saying doesn’t always go over super well, but they held their interest. Memory was impossible. Alex and Sonya couldn’t keep their hands off each other, Nikita was only good because he was right beside me, and Maria was trying to steal tokens to add to her token bag for a bigger prize. I think we played one round of Memory. Most of the time I just held up the card and asked what it was. I was surprised at how much they knew. Okay seriously they take so much energy, but I love them so much. I held up a picture of a train and Daniela (the boy) looked at me and goes “Choo chooo”. I think my humor is starting to become that of a child because I laughed. I love watching them try to figure out how to convey what they want. Maria is the best because she is so loud. Sometimes I don’t even know if what she is saying is Russian or English. Sometimes we have to play the guessing game to figure out what she needs or wants. I was emotionally exhausted by the time I was walking home. Gosh being overly happy and teaching kids takes a lot out of you! When I got to my apartment I decided to sit on a park bench and finish reading one of my books. Then it started getting cold so I went in. Sometimes I’m just like, “Yeah, I love my life.” I’m a nerd and I would rather read then talk to the group, but that’s just who I am. Speaking of reading…. I need an intervention. When you start crying on the metro on the way home from school because one of the characters in your book just protested his love to another character, you know you’ve gone too far. Or when you find out one of your main characters is dying and you are seriously so pissed off you can’t even talk to anyone at church for like an hour, something must be done. And to all the authors out there, if it takes you 918 pages to tell me that they didn’t get together and have their happily ever after, you should probably stop writing. Thank goodness I found out that there was another book that consists of 518 pages to follow that one, otherwise I would have cried in my bed for days. My book count is up to 7 books now. Yep, I need to stop because my characters are affecting me emotionally!
                Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were more days of teaching. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember the exact details of each day. When you’re teaching and doing the same activities over and over, the days start to run together. I guess it’s like that with anything though, life starts to be one flicker of a moment after another. Thursday we had open classes for our 1st grade class. Talk about intimidating! The parents get to come in and watch. I mean on one hand they don’t understand what you are saying so pretty much you could be teaching their kids anything, but on the other hand they pay a lot of money for this program so you need them to like it. They parents were pleased, but of course they had a few complaints. This is Russia where the children are almost as spoiled as the parents. After class on Thursday we were told by one of the teachers that “Our headmaster has a surprise for us”. First off, I’m like okay DUMBLEDORE IS HERE!? Then I’m like wait…. Is it food? Well it was definitely not Dumbledore, but some food was involved. The head master taught school at the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. for 4 years. I guess he really likes pictures because he has 22 albums worth of them from those 4 years and he told us that we will eventually see every.single.one. He brought us into this office with a translator and showed us 2 of his albums. That took 2 hours. He is also planning on taking us to a hockey game with him to sit in one of the boxes he has. One thing about the people here is that they are so nice its almost uncomfortable. Like you don’t know what to do for all the love they have for you. He wanted to make sure that we knew that our private school was a part of America too, and that he always wanted us to feel at home. He told us he had never showed anyone his albums, but he wanted us to see them even though they were very personal. My Babushka? She does my laundry for me. When she sees that my basket is getting full she just does it and I come home and my clothes are hanging up drying. I wish I could express more gratitude than a simple thank you. if only I knew the language better! But anywho back to my principal. So we are there for a LONG time and he asks us if we want any coffee. We say no thank you, so he asks if we want any tea. We say no thank you, and then he is very confused. He says why do you not drink either? Of course this is all through a translator so don’t forget to add that in, because its about to get really awkward. We tell him its because of our religion. He says oh and then asks if we eat meat. We tell him yes, then he stops for a second…..thinks…. and then says in Russian “Can you have sex? Do you have sex?” I guess for our benefit he said sex in english, or maybe there is no translation? But we all turned bright red. I didn’t know what to say. Did my boss just ask about my sex life? I kinda wanted to say “Yes, all the time!” just because it would have made it that much more awkward, but I held back. I pointed to my right hand ring finger (their wedding finger) and said “Yes, after we are married!” He replied me too. I have sex with my wife all the time, but after marriage. He is Russian Orthodox. The translator was bright red. We had to hold in our laughter for a good 30 minutes when we finally had to ask if we could leave so we could get to our other school to teach.
                One of those days I went and saw Jakes third level class that I will now be taking over. I was hoping that they would be good students. I was hoping that we could have a lot of fun. But what do I see when I walk in? I see them yelling, and flipping chairs, and asking Jake to take as many points away from them as they can. Jake was having a bad day. He just kinda sat back in watched. I was only going to come in and meet them, but after seeing Jake’s face I decided I should probably stay for the rest of class. What was my first line of action after I was introduced as their new teacher? I heard two boys talking in Russian in the back. I’m sorry, but they know the rules. Even my 4 year olds know that when someone says something in Russian you say “Nooooo Russian”. Well here are these two older kids speaking Russian, not listening to Jake, and frankly pissing me off. I walked back there, slammed my palm on the desk, got in their face and said “You DO NOT speak Russian in my classroom!!”. It was kinda epic. Their faces were PRICELESS. I was like you do not want to make this living hell, because if I’m not happy you will not be happy. You guys know how it is. I don’t hide my emotions well. Speak to any one of my short list of boyfriends, when I’m pissed its evident. So they should probably not get on my bad side. But I think as a teacher you need to be open to compromise. If they listen and at least try, I promise to make class as fun as possible. I’m already working hard to come up with game ideas for even the boring-est grammar lessons. Yes I’m an English teacher, yes I just made up the word boring-est… I think that if we can reach an understanding class will be good. But I’m not here to waste my time. I’m not going to put effort in if they won’t respect me. So instead I’m going to be the biggest bee-yatch they have ever seen until I just scare them in to submission. This sounds harsh, but seriously guys this class is nuts. Like its not that they don’t talk or they just look at you like you are stupid. These kids are throwing books, flipping chairs and tables, and frankly acting like a crazy person. Sorry it’s just not going to happen. I start teaching them as their full time teacher on Tuesday. I will be sure to let you guys know how it goes. I think it will be okay. It’s all about order and rules right? Don’t kids love those two things?
                One of the older senior boys saw me in the hallway and held up the phone sign to me and was like “call me”. I wanted to point out that I didn’t have his number, his name, nor did I speak Russian, but I decided that frankly boys don’t like girls that talk a lot. Oh and he’s probably like 17 which is gross and not to mention history with boys and missions. Later during the week we were on the metro and I was telling the teachers about how I slammed my hand on that kids desk. We’re American, we stick out. These are just the facts of life. First off, we are the only people actually smiling in public. Second off we are extremely animated, and not to mention the English that we speak very loudly. So we are all chatting away and then I look over my shoulder because I feel someone right beside me and see a man. He was older. I would say 30s somewhere. Like I said before Russians don’t have bubbles like Americans do. When they talk to you they get very close to your face, they touch you, they make you slightly uncomfortable. It’s just their way, so when this guys was all booty close to me I just assumed he was about to get off the metro or something, but then he starts talking to me in English. He is like you guys are very loud and you stick out. We have social customs and rules here. I was really confused. Why is this man talking to me? Why is this man telling me what to do? And why is this man speaking English? He asked me where I was from and I replied Texas. He said that he loves Texas and the way we talk. I smiled and nodded. He then asked me what I was doing in Moscow and I told him we teach English here. He was like I teach English too. Um cool? High five? What do you want? The metro comes to a stop and he is like “Well this is my stop, but I would love to see more of you!” and hands me a card and gets off. I was confused. I looked at my friend Connie and she was like “Daannnnnngggggg girrrrrrrrrlllll you just got hit on!” I was like oh was that what that was? Next time Sir, don’t ever tell me what to do.
                Saturday was really the highlight of the week. We went to a Soccer game and watched one of the Moscow teams Locos play. It was so much fun! The fans are crazy!!!! They were yelling, chanting, singing, and jumping up and down the entire game. When we finally scored this smoke starts coming out of the bleaches. I’m like oh shiz, someone started a fire! But then I see the smoke starts coming out in colors and it’s the colors of the team. Then fireworks come out of the smoke! I was like this is insane. I could hardly watch the team because the fans were so mesmerizing! We went to the game with 2 Russian boys named Nicolia and Maron. Lets be real they are precious. Lo, Maron would totes be your type, just a little short. Nicolia knows English really well, Maron not so much. Maron is hot and he knows it so he just kinda watches the 13 ILP girls flutter around him. I was like don’t even smile at me, I do not like boys with egos. But it was really fun to see him interact with everyone. I have officially decided that I’m awkward. I know, I know, it took me a while, but you guys its BAD. Nicolia was sitting by me during the first half of the soccer game and I couldn’t think of a thing to say to him. I was just like I’m not good at this. I can’t talk to him. So I said nothing. Same with Jake! I can not start a conversation with that boy for the life of me, and I’m not even attracted to him. So, my fate is sealed. Marriage just won’t be in my future, unless they like really awkward girls. Lins & Heather when it gets quiet in my group and no one is talking I have to resist the urge to be like “SO….this is awkward….”
                So crazy thing at the game, there were military people everywhere! And they were decked out in full combat uniforms. After the game was over they made two lines going from the stadium to the metro, one on each side. They stood elbow to elbow and you had to walk in between them and go straight to the metro. I guess there are a lot of fights so they try to keep it pretty strict. Everyone felt really intimidated to walk in between them. Honestly, I felt like a princess and all my subjects were just watching me enter my kingdom. Does it say I’m the baby of the family that I refuse to believe that I’m not everyone’s favorite? Probs. I bought an awesome scarf at the game, but after the game Nicolia told me I had to take it off because if someone saw me wearing it and didn’t like Locos then they would try to jump me. How crazy is that? These people are die hard fans! We got back on the metro and started to make our way to a shopping mall. Nicolia and Maron wanted to go home, but they said they would show us where the mall was first. Maron got a call and decided to leave early. He was standing by all of us and all the sudden he is says, very slowly, “Goodbye…” and then leans in and kisses Breann on the cheek and then looked at us like he thought we didn’t know what goodbye meant and he was trying to get his point across. Then he hoped off the train and left. Breann was shocked. Her face was priceless! I wish I could have taken a picture. Nicolia showed us where this HUGE shopping mall was and then left. He started to say goodbye to Emily first, but she went in for a hug so he awkwardly hugged me. Then he came to me and went to kiss me, but missed and kissed somewhere in between the top of my neck and my jaw bone. Of course. Because when do normal things happen to me. Do you think I am a magnet for awkwardness or do you think I just see all the awkward things in life? It was funny because i could tell hugging was weird for him. It was funny to see him struggle with it. Lets be real, kissing when I say goodbye will be something I will be sure to start up here. Just not in awkward places between your neck and jaw….
                Shopping was good. The mall was huge and expensive. The clothes aren’t different than the ones in America so I don’t see the point of shopping at a Gap here. Now the shoes, that’s a different story. The heels here are gorgeous and there are so many shoe stores! I loved it. I mean as much as I love shopping. The group I went with didn’t have a plan nor a thing they were looking for so it was kinda slowly chopping away at my soul shopping with them. We found the food court! And I had American food! I think I want to go there once a week just to have a taste of America! Ordering is always fun too because you get to play 20 questions/jeopardy/charades with the person taking your order!
                After shopping we just went back to Em’s apartment and hung out, and that’s when the best part of my week happened. I got to skype with Corby, Katie, Jadders, Brent, Lori, Linsey, Mom, and Dad!!! You guys it was SO GOOD to see you and to hear your voices and to feel so loved! It reminded me of every reason I liked you guys. Almost forgot ;) Hahaha. I can’t believe I have only been away 3 weeks from y’all. It looked like you guys had already changed so much! Stop growing  up! If you couldn’t tell I was pretty upset when we had to say goodbye. I cried for a long time after I got off. Its hard to forget  everything you love when you got to see what it was like to have them back in your life for a split second. I almost felt like I was there and going to the game with y’all! But really thanks for skyping! And being so upbeat and funny!
                Sunday was church, 2 African men got baptized, I got to listen to the British elder speak, American sweets, an American lunch, and then a fireside. We set up times to do institute and everything too. It was good to see everyone. People actually remember our names. Alridge came up to me and was like “How was your week Hailey?!” Its funny to go to that ward because I feel like I’m constantly surrounded by black guys. But I love to listen to them talk to each other. Most of them speak French, Russian, English, and whatever their village in Africa spoke. Its awesome! So many cool people there!
                You guys! Its getting cold now! The leaves are starting to change slowly. I was told that the whole leaf changing thing only takes about 3 weeks and then they fall off. That makes me sad. We are going to the park this weekend to enjoy the fall time before the harsh winter sets in. I am so ready for the fall. They say that they have a really cold week (our first week) and then really hot weeks like summer (our 2nd and 3rd week) and then the cold starts in. its coming! So these are things on my mind. #1. Does anyone know how many joules of energy it takes to change 1 gram of water? Is it 4.87 KJ or is it 4.87 J? Its seriously driving me crazy….. #2. Love. Okay guys this is my question…. Is being physical a product of love? A product of lust? Or a product of our society? Is touching someone all the time because of desire or because it shows your devotion to that person? What do y’all think? Here in Russia everyone is always touching. The couples on the metro are making out and not just young couples, older married couples too. The boys always have their arms draped around the girls like if they don’t then they would lose them or something. And they stare at each other like it’s the last time they will ever see each other. I want to look away, but there is so much love its mesmerizing. Is America not like that because we have less passion? Our society won’t allow us to? Or does showing love not come out in a physical form? These are the things that keep me up at night….
                Anywho we decided on a trip for our 10 day vacation! Guess what guys? I’m going to NORWAY!! I get to go and see where great-great grandma is from!!! And Denmark, Estonia, Finland, and Sweden!! Here is a copy of our itenery. Even better than that we are having so many people go with us. Its going to be our group, the Captain group, some of our host families, our coordinator Gulya, and a few other people! I am so pumped! And not this weekend, but next we are going to some cities in the Golden Ring and staying in the monastery! Its hard to be away on the weekends because you are so tired from the week, but it is more than worth it!! I love you all and think about you often. I’m kinda ticked with all of you. No one has really sent me a desperately sad, depressed, whiney email telling me how much they miss me. Come on guys! Someone lie to me and tell me their life is incomplete without them! Hahaaha! Thanks for all the emails back too! And sorry if this email was boring or a repeat of stories for some of you! Love you!
Trip Info
o   November 2      Night train to St. Petersburg
o   November 3      St. Pet. hostel
o   November 4      St. Pet.
                            Bus to Tallin (Estonia)- stay in hostel
o   November 5      Tallin
o   November 6      Ferry to Heisinki (Finland)
              Bus to Turku (the old capital of Finland)
              Night ferry to Stockholm (Sweden)
o   November 7      Stockholm, bus to Norway
o   November 8      Arrival in Oslo (Norway)
                            Ferry to Copenhagen (Denmark)
o   November 9      Copenhagen, night bus to Stockholm
o   November 10    Stockholm, night ferry to Turku
o   November 11    Turku, bus to Heisinki, bus to St. Pet., Night train to Moscow
o   November 12    Back to Moscow to teach!
Until Next Time,
Muah! 

Week 2!!!!


Week 2  (It’s a long one again! But you guys ALL read the last one!)                                                                         
Dear Family and Friends,
                Thanks for everyone responding to my email! It makes me feel so special. It’s kinda fun to write you all. Now from experience, I will tell you that the fun starts to wear off, but hang in there guys! I know you guys just got an email from me, but we kinda have to get on Dan Dan’s schedule. Yes, I know it sucks, but some things still revolve around him. So emails will be sent out Monday’s unless otherwise sent out on another day. Common sense. Speaking of Dan Dan, shout out to him! His 15 month mark was on Saturday! Yay! Which means we only have a pregnancy left to go! Thank the goodness. Honestly this is a win for all of us because lets be real you guys are almost as sick of hearing about it as I am of counting it down/up.
                So I wanted to start this email off with answering all the fun common questions that I have gotten! That way in my personal emails to you guys I can talk about all the other things and not repeat, but before I do that 1 more thing. Okay guys lets be real, I’m sarcastic. And my emails are only more sarcastic than they normally would be because I can’t be as sarcastic as I want in my “group” so I feel like it’s coming out in this form. Also I’m passive aggressive, so if something is bothering me its most likely going to come out in a sarcastic form. But before we start I want everyone to know that I love it here. It’s so amazing and sometimes I can’t believe that this is actually my life. I’m happy here as well. Sure there are some things that bother me or that are different, but I’m happy. Now with that being said continue your reading. 
The Food: It sucks. Sometimes I wonder if Russians just sit around and think how much their food sucks, or if they drink so much vodka because they hate the taste of their own mouths after they eat. Like honestly guys, its awful. They do not have good pastries. They do not have good bread (it basically all tastes the same). And sometimes I can’t even identify the meat, so I don’t eat it. The other day someone in my group had rabbit for dinner. No joke. Rabbit? I have limits. Okay actually I have lots of limits, but rabbit should exceed everyone’s limits. The spices are weird too. They use Russian Thyme in a lot of their stuff and its so strong. Like eating a really really strong flavored grass roll, or sauce, or whatever the thyme is in. Btws that is pronounced time (you know you were wondering Lo!). Speaking of Lo I have decided that I will be holding a contest with who can send me the best comments in an email, and right now hers is winning. She said and I quote “I think I’m a lesbian. I think about you like 5 times a day.” You guys still sure you want to induct her into the Hodgki family? Sorry back to the food! So weird things they do/eat? The eat bacon raw! They have plain sour cream for a snack. And their salads consist of cucumbers and tomatoes. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it comes pretty close. The one thing I kinda like is bilinii (ba-lean-ey). Its like a pancake and can be different thicknesses. When its super thin and a crepe its way good. Well as far as crepes go it is. They put this weird mix of cottage cheese/ cream cheese in it or some weird meat. Btw Gulya took me aside and was like my mom is worried about you. She can’t find anything you like to eat. I was like I don’t really like food, and she looked at me and was like “I have a hard time believing that.” Fat joke much? I then had to explain that what I like is not good for you, then she started lecturing me. Freaking Russians. Always think it’s their place to tell you what to do with your life. I eventually told her that I don’t like meats (because I never know what they are), I like fruit, I like pasta with normal tomato sauce but that I want to serve it. So the next day Bubshka starts throwing fruit down my throat like there’s no tomorrow. It was kinda sweet. She cares so much already, but still her food is sick. It doesn’t bother me though. I made the mistake of buying two huge things of M&Ms last week. Bit mistake. I eat them all the time and its so bad! And last Saturday I had so much bread. Honestly total F-A-T-T-Y. Other than that though, I don’t really eat and its fine with me. I mean sure I could go for some CafĂ© Rio right now, but couldn’t we all?
The Weather: The first week we got here it was freezing! Then this last week it started to warm up. Its kinda hard to dress correctly because its cold in the mornings, chilly if you are standing around in the afternoon, hot if you are walking to wherever you need to go, and freezing at night. So you are constantly taking layers off and putting them back on. Its got that fall feel to it already, but its lacking the crispness and the football. Fall just isn’t quite the same without some form of football. At the private school I teach at it gets pretty chilly, but nothing too bad yet. I usually wear a shirt, a sweater, then my thick black winter coat. That way I can take layers off if I need to. Its been pretty rainy off and on here too, so carrying a umbrella everywhere is a good idea. I got drenched the other day.
The Clothes: The clothes aren’t that different, except that everyone dresses well here. I don’t ever see any sweats and if I do its more of the soccer pants and it’s the teens wearing them. The guys wear nice jeans and the European shoes with their European man purses. Remember that episode of Friends where Joey starts wearing the purse? Greatness. The women where suits, or nice skirts and dresses. The teenagers wear jeans and shirts and sometimes panty hose with booty shorts on. Btw everyone wears panty hose here. The main difference is the heels. All the women wear heels or boots with heels. I don’t know how they do it because they walk so much all the time, but the trek on. They even carry their kids in them sometimes, although most kids have to walk because it is such a long way to get home unless you live right by the metro. The braids that they do in their hair are pretty cool though. I want someone to braid my hair on day. They have like the Katniss braid going on and all sorts of other things.
The Boys (Daniel skip this part): So the boys… probably one of my favorite subjects! Lets be real. They are honestly the best looking men I have ever seen. I mean honestly all of Europe has the best looking men. But you guys! The most beautiful boy I have ever laid eyes on works at my private school as a gym teacher! I don’t see him often, but when I do, it’s heaven. Okay enough about that. So the men are tall and lean. They have long legs and their aren’t heavy on the muscles. Their arms and back muscles are defined, but they aren’t really bulging. They are kinda the Adam Levine type, and you guys know how I feel about him. They have strong jaw lines and all different types of hair. Some are more husky looking with the dark thick hair and others have the blond you would typically imagine. Their accents are perfect. They don’t beat an British accent, but its so funny when you teach them words in English. Breann and I are constantly on the lookout for attractive Russians. Most of the time we find that the guards are really good looking. But you see so many people on the metro that works too. There are even some kids that go to my private school that are good looking. Of course Emily had to remind me that they are like 17, and I am in fact not their age anymore, but you get the drift. Gosh, when did I stop being 17? Pretty much to sum it up, Russian boys= me gusta (that’s Spanish..)
My Roommate: I am now living with Bubshka by myself!! What what! So this is how it went down. They found a host family, we drew for it, and she won so she moved out. Was I sad? A little. But lets be real, I didn’t want to pack all my stuff up again.
Now that that’s done with I can tell you about the last few days since I last sent an email!! I started teaching so that was very exciting! You guys need to go look at my pictures on facebook to see my Catch-up kids. I’m seriously in love with them already! But we will go chronologically!
Thursday was a pretty chill day. I went to the private school that I teach at for the first time and met the teachers and directors. The school is so different than what we have in America. First of all it’s tiny. Its about the size of a smaller grocery store in America. It is for K-12 and has maybe about 100 students. It’s a private school so everyone pays to go there, but it has quite a cozy feel to it. It’s gated and you have to speak to guards to go in. The grounds of the school are grassy so with many trees. That way when the kids go out and play, they have something nice to fall on. They also have a garden in the front of the school. Its gorgeous. The school, although small reminds me of the stair cases in Hogwarts. I swear they are constantly changing and finding my way around is almost impossible.  It’s two stories and there are different wings for different ages. The students are adorable. They dress in uniforms that are very nice. You can tell their parents ironed them for them. They also have braids in their hair and pretty bows. They can be a little spoiled because it’s Russia, and these kids aren’t struggling for money, but none the less they win your heart over.
After we met everyone we moved our supplies from boxes into the back of someone’s classroom. The school is small so they don’t really have a particular place for us. We had lunch in the cafeteria when we were done. This is nice because I can eat what I want and not feel like I have offended someone if I don’t eat it all or any of I, which is pretty common.  After that I walked home which is about a 15 minute walk from my house. I got to spend the rest of the day just reading and hanging out. I also went to a grocery store near me. Guess what I bought? Tons of American candy! Made me happy. I feel like Dad stashing my M&Ms away.
Friday was really busy for me. I woke up around 7 and got ready for the day. As soon as I was done I took the metro to the Institute. The Institute is our main school, but I only teach there twice a week. Friday was my first day teaching so I had to do quite a bit to get my stuff ready for my classes. I went to the Institute and made a class rules poster, a jeopardy game for my math lesson, and got everything together for my arts and crafts lesson for the little kids. When I looked at my watch and realized I needed to be at my private school in an hour I booked it to the metro and walked to my other school. It takes me about 40 minutes to get to one school to the other. It’s been hard to get used to transportation this way. Pain in the butt, honestly.
Once I got to the school I wanted to bolt. I was so nervous! The first class that I was teaching was my catch-up group. They are all about 5-7. I knew that I could handle kids, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was considering how to get out of teaching when Em came in. she took one look at me and knew exactly what was going on. She grabbed my shoulders and just kept repeating “It’s going to be okay”. Jake kept singing “It’s Friday, Friday. Got to get down on Friday”. Such a boy thing to do.
So my classes started. All the kids walked in and I wanted to scream. Emily was there to help me get things started though and that really helped. She is a great teacher. You guys ready for my kids names? Okay so the boys are Misha, Daniele, Alex, and Nikita. The girls are Sasha, Sonya, Vika, and Maria. Pretty much they are adorable. They walked in and Gulya spoke to them in Russian. She explained that when you say certain things in English that you get a token and that the tokens add up and you can buy things with it. She also explained that they were not to speak Russian, only English, and that Ms. Hailey would only be speaking English. Maria looked at her really concerned and said “But, I don’t understand English!”  It was cute. Gulya left and all the kids just looked at me.  I think they were really nervous. I folded my arms and said “I’m being good! Who’s being good?” I kept saying it until they folded their arms too and said “I’m being good!” Their pronunciation is so good already. Only Nikita has trouble saying things. Maria did at first, but she got the hand of it. When you speak Russian, you have to use your entire mouth to pronounce the words, so I think that going to English is almost like a break for them. I was surprised. We sang head, shoulders, knees and toes about three times and then I pointed to each body part and asked what it was. They each knew the body part in English! I was shocked! We did the calendar and then I started my arts and crafts project. We made rainbows with a cloud out of yarn, paper, and cotton balls. Misha is brilliant. He was very preoccupied with his project so I thought he wasn’t listening. I wanted his attention so I pointed to a string of yarn and said “Misha, what is this?” He looked up at me and said “That’s red yarn.” Full English, no mistake, perfect pronunciation.  I was floored. These kids catch on quite. The class flew by. Before I knew it, it was time to clean up, count tokens, do store, and sing another song. The kids were so happy. I took them all back to their classroom after we were done. Then I had to clean up my classroom, grab all my things, and book it across town to get to my next class at the Institute.
That meant getting on a metro and then walking again. I got to the Institue with about 15 minutes to go before class, so all I had time to do was get things set up and then meet the kids downstairs. I had 2 students. Yeah, shoot me now. So originally I thought that I would love level 4. They were older, they understood English, and I could actually communicate with them.  Well being older comes with it’s flaws, as we all know. It means that they are old enough to have opinions and in the dictatorship I run in my classroom, opinions are not welcome. I have 5 students, but the twins (Alice and Ksenia) don’t want to come, and if they drop then I have no level 4 which means teaching at the Institute for catch-up. That would be all fine, but the Institutes catch up kids are brats and it’s 3 hours long. I don’t want to teach that. So I was really worried because I felt all this pressure to be interesting and perfect so I don’t lose my level 4 students. But I think class went well. It was hard though. With only 2 students I was kinda awkward. And they really don’t know that much English yet. I’m not sure if it’s because they are old enough to be embarrassed to say the wrong thing or what, but they didn’t talk very often. Drove me crazy. By the time I was done I felt like an complete idiot. They were asking me definitions of things and I was just like um….. Like fun. How do you describe what fun is? Sure I can give you a million examples of things that I think are fun, but you might not. The last hour I mentally said screw the lesson plans and I just sat down and talked to the girls one on one. We talked about our families and where they have been. Alice talked about how her and her twin are so different. Knseia was at a doctors appointment so she wasn’t there. Alyona talked about how she dances 4 hours a day, but she doesn’t want to be a dancer when she grows up. I got a lot more language out of them then reading a stupid book that is for 4th graders. They did break my heart when they said that they weren’t really into Harry Potter though. I almost had to sell them I was so disappointed. I won’t know for sure if I will have a level 4 class for another couple weeks. But I think that it will be okay. It’s still hard though. Getting them to talk is like pulling teeth. They aren’t as eager to learn as the younger kids are. Oh, also they hate Justin Biebs. I almost cried. Alyona said that her mom loves Lady Gaga and Alice looked at me with wide eyes that said “her mom must be crazy!” It was funny. I brought my Texas book and my shutterfly book with me to show them all of you guys. They loved looking at the shutterfly book. They kept talking about how much alike me and linsey were. They asked if we were twins and in the picture where its Mom, Dad, and Linsey at her wedding they asked if it was me. I was like no that is not me although I am flattered. They said that Aly looked like Hannah Montana which made me laugh. They asked a lot of questions about Daniel. Try explaining so someone who doesn’t really know tons of English a mission and that you can’t talk to them or see them. Their faces were priceless. Its kinda nice sometimes because they aren’t that much younger than me, so I know what they are going through. It works.
After class was over I wanted nothing more than ice cream and a bed. I was sick of using my hands to talk and sick of having to explain that yes my college is 20 hours away from my home town and no I don’t drive to it every day. Emily and Connie were in the supplies room and we ended up talking for like 4 hours into the night. It was so awesome!! I felt like we were just having a girls night and getting to know each other! I loved it and didn’t go home until like 12 that night!
Saturday was the exciting day of the week. We met at 8 am at the metro and rode to a train stop. There we bought our tickets and got on a train that took us about an hour and a half to get there. Final destination: St. Sergue’s Trinity Monastery. First of all, it’s beautiful. Second of all it comes out of no where. We got off at our stop and started walking. It was this cute little town with cobbled stones and little shops. We walk down this hill and the trees start to clear and then bam. There it is. It was gorgeous! The monastery has a brick fence around it. There are multiple buildings on the block. The story goes like this. Sergue came to this hill and decided that he would live there. He dug a whole and later decided to build a hut. Many others came and the group started to grow as Sergue as their leader. They decided to build a monastery and did exactly just that. Sergue acted as the head priest. When Sergue died he the Russian Orthodox made him a saint hence the name St. Sergue’s Trinity Monastery. The building with the blue tops is a building that Ivan the Terrible donated money to be built when his first son Ivan was born. Later in life there was an accident and Ivan the Terrible “accidentally” killed his son Ivan. To make up for his sins he poured tons and tons of money into the monastery. Now it is still a running monastery. It has been very important in Russian history. In the past the Russian army has come to the monastery and bowed over St. Sergues grave for luck and have won battles. I believe even the battle that led them to their freedom from Poland. Now people come from all over as piligrams to bow over the grave of St. Sergue’s body. They all line up and wait their turn to enter the chapel that the grave is. It was amazing. We got to go in as well and watch as they performed a very important part of their religion. The inside of the chapel was beautiful. There were hundreds of paintings hanging on the wall. The paintings frames were gold. The frames were touching one another so that it appeared that it was the wall paper. The lights were low and the pilgrims had candles. There were nuns singing acapella in Russian. It was beautiful. Okay side note, my freaking converter/adapter just made this huge popping noise and now is smoking. To say the least I don’t think that it will be working any longer which makes me beyond sad. Stupid European current. Anyway, the whole monastery was gorgeous. There was also a huge fountain. The water is said to be holy so people bring empty bottles of water and jugs to fill and take the water back home. It was good and clean and hey it’s holy so I was down.
After viewing the monastery for a bit we went and walked around the shops. They were all tourist shops, but it was fun to look. They had the tiniest nesting dolls I have ever seen! So cute!! We then took a train home and I read a bit and crashed.
I didn’t sleep well because I got sick in the night and still wasn’t feeling well Sunday so I didn’t go to church. No worries though guys, just a small bug and I am feeling much better. Lots of sleep and medicine goes a long way. So Sunday I mostly slept, read, and worked on lesson plans. I have a full week of teaching so that means lesson plans for 2 days of level 4 and four days of catch-up. Meaning I will have to have 8 SPEs planned. SPEs are the activity that we do with the kids in the catch up groups. So it’s a busy week.
Today (Monday) I am working on getting things ready for class and whatnot. I only teach level 4 today so it won’t be too crazy. The weeks are usually pretty low key. We are going to a Russian futbol (soccer) game this weekend! That should be pretty cool! I also think the group wants to go clubbing, but you guys know me and dancing. We don’t have a good history. We will see though. I can see some “very important lesson plans” coming up that night that I just have to do. As soon as we get wifi at the Institute I can set up skyping times with you guys. It’s beyond annoying that I can’t just talk to you each everyday. Its hard without you guys sometimes because I know that it would be perfect with y’all here. I mean my family is my best friends. I grew up with 6 siblings. I never needed anyone else to feel complete. And then I met Aly, and Jessica, and Lo, and Ash and Cor, oh and Dan, and it was just like yay life is perfect! I think you guys should come here! Next time I do this Aly and Lo you guys are coming with me for sure. K? Good! I’m glad to hear that everyone is doing well though. I love y’all!
Love,
Ms. Hailey
P.S. I forgot to tell you guys that at the Monastery the birds were insane! Well even in Moscow they are pretty crazy. The pigeons are so fat and in Moscow they won’t move so you have to walk around them. They aren’t scared at all! At the monastery they would fly up and land on your head or your shoulder or your hand. It was crazy! I was later sitting down and one came and landed on my leg. I took out some bread I had and fed it. So cra cra!!

Week 1!


Week of August 29- September 5, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
                How are you guys? I feel like I have been gone an eternity already. Not in a bad way, but it just seems my life in America was a different time. I already feel so comfortable here and I’ve been here just a week! It’s insane. It’s funny you think you want to go to another country and live there and then you get there and all you want are things that remind you of home. I’m not home sick, but I sure would take American food over Russian food any day, not that there isn’t good Russian food.  Anywho you guys don’t want to here about that, you want all the fun stuff, so here I go! Sorry if this is long.
                This email is incredibly long so if you don’t read it all (most of you won’t) please scroll to the bottom and find your name and respond! Thanks guys!!
                Short facts about Russia in case you don’t want to read ALL of this
·         No one smiles at each other in public. Okay that’s not entirely true. No one smiles at strangers in public. Yeah, try that one out. It’s awkward. So when you make eye contact you just look away. Smiling means you would like the boy that might happen to be staring at you to come flirt with you.
·         Russian girls are absolutely beautiful, but they all turn into Bubshkas in the end and that is not a positive thing
·         Everyone smokes. And if they’re not smoking, they are thinking about smoking
·         Russians come up and start speaking Russian to you all the time and when you look confused and talk to them in English they still continue to talk to you in Russian. Sometimes they walk away and come back and speak to you in Russian again. I always want to say “In the five minutes that I last spoke to you, I still haven’t learned Russian!”
·         Russian sounds like a bunch of made up sounds. I have fully given up on learning it. I know spice-see-ba (thank you), privyet ( hello), pah-cah (goodbye) and I’m sticking to that. Every time I meet someone and try to learn their name I murder it. Like Jake’s host brother Ark-e-chome. He shakes his head at me every time I say this name
·         Everyone stares at us. Not because we are pretty or they think we are American, but because we speak English and they are confused. It’s weird to be the foreigners.
·         Water is expensive so they usually only shower about once a week. Yeah, trust me they smell!! But they usually mask it with cologne or perfume. We on the other hand stick to our American ways and shower often. Sorry, some habits just don’t change.
·         Couples are very very very intimate here. They are always macking and holding each other. This can be pretty awkward when you are like 5 inches from them in the metro
                So day one of Russia was a shocker. They say you go through 4 stages when you move abroad. The first is honeymoon, then horror, and then humor, and then home. The first few days the only way to describe how I felt was culture shock. You have this idea of what it will look like or be like and then it ends up being completely different. I arrived from my 16 hour trip at 10 am. It was weird because it was 130 am my time, but the sun was up so my body felt wide awake. We lost some girls that were supposed to meet with us so we stood at the airport for about 2 hours until we found this. This was a killer! We were all so tired, but of course we couldn’t sit on the floor because Russians believe that if girls do that your ovaries freeze.  We were so relieved when the bus came and picked us up. We were told that it would take about 40 minutes to get to our stop, mine was first because I lived closest to the airport. Well the 40 minute trip turned into like 2 ½ hours! Guys, traffic is INSANE here! Like I thought Dallas traffic was bad, but this place is SUICIDAL! At one point we were literally going fully sideways in traffic trying to change lanes!!! I was terrified! But no one really honks or yells here. I guess traffic is always bad so everyone is used to it. I’m not sure, but that was crazy! And we literally didn’t go over like 10 miles an hour and mostly we were stopped. It was crazy. Russia is actually not very European. They drive on the right side of the road and the drivers side is on the left just like in America. Of course it would never be polite to point that out because they hate America. Totes jelly, that’s for sure. So me and my roommate, Alicia, get dropped off after our incredibly long drive. We were all supposed to be with separate families, but I guess they couldn’t find enough so me and Alicia are with our head coordinators mom, Bubshka Ryea. She is this little old lady who is beyond cute. She is so sweet! She talks to us in Russian all the time. It’s so funny! She just sits at the dinner table and talks to us and we smile and laugh when appropriate. I really love her already, but I am so bummed to not be with a full family. Gulya (pronounced Gule-ee-ah) is working to find other families.
Anywho, back to my first day. So we move all our stuff up to the 3rd floor and walk into this apartment and I have to make myself not gasp. You guys, it is so tiny! I literally was in shock for a good 10 minutes. There entry way when you walk in. To the right is a short hallway that leads to the kitchen. Also in that hallway are two doors that lead to the bathtub and the toilet. Both rooms are a little bigger than an American closet. Straight off the entry way is a small room and then directly off the entry way to the left is another room that is larger. The larger room is ours. We share a “bed” its more like a couch that folds out, but its not a mattress more like a padding. Its very cozy actually. And now that I’ve been in it for awhile I have come to love it. I was worried that such a small space would drive me mad, but I already started calling it home, which is odd. After we brought our stuff in we just unpacked, ate, and passed out. I hadn’t slept for over 48 hours so I was ready to sleep. Every night that I’ve been here I have hit the pillow and gone straight to sleep. It’s been great!
Day 2 was a really fun day! Bubshka walked us to the metro where we met Gulya and we rode the metro to meet up with everyone. Jake brought his host brother who speaks fluent English, and April brought her host sister, Margarita, who is 11. I am extremely jealous! Margarita and April are already so close. They hook arms everywhere. Margarita is so sweet. She also wanted to hook arms with me or hold my hand. In Russia the way it works is that in public they are not very open with strangers, but when they do know you they are very very very intimate. Girls kiss on the lips or hold hands, they talk very close to your face, and they touch you often. Seeing has touch is my love language, I constantly feel loved when I’m around Margarita or another Russian I know. Perfect country for me (minus the girls kissing part)! After we met up we went to the Red Square. Guys, its beautiful! I looked awful that day because my hair was a wreck, but I still took pictures and I will attach them even though I look fat. You’re welcome. We also bought tickets to the Ballet for 350 rubels (7 American dollars) and tickets to this amazing International military band festival for 1000 rubels (32 American dollars). I can’t believe entertainment is so cheap! The ballet is in the Kremlin. I am beyond pumped! Funny story? K so we get to Red Square and Gulya pushes us into this line and takes all our bags and cameras and water. She says “You are going to see Lenin”. So we go and we start walking and we just keep following everyone else. Now, I’m not really thinking about who Lenin is. Well we get to this big black marble building and have to descend all these stairs. It extremely dark in there and we can’t see so we are tripping and some of the girls were laughing. The Russian guards (who are very serious on Red Square) shh us and so we keep walking. Well we turn the corner and guess what? It’s Lenin’s dead  body in a glass case! It was the creepiest thing I have ever seen. Everyone was just starring and almost paying their respects, while I’m calculating the rate of decay and if that could really be his body or not. Gulya says its not. As I starred all I could think was “He is going to open his eyes any moment”! When we got out we all kinda looked at each other and were like well that was odd.
Red Square was very busy last weekend because its City day (Moscow’s birthday) and because the international military band show is in the middle of Red Square. There were people there practicing for the festivals this weekend and they started doing the Russian dance. It looked just like the one off of Fiddler On The Roof. It was awesome! Margarita was so excited and happy to see it and loved the Russian music. I love it too. Have no idea what they are saying, but it’s pretty cool sounding. There were also a horse arena and little boys were riding horses and standing on them. This will all be cleared out once the festivals are over.
After red square we headed to grab a snack. I have been dreading meals, but I am quickly learning that not everything is bad. We had crepes with this Carmel that was to die for. Oh and for breakfast we have hot chocolate. Guess how you make it? You put about half a can of sweet condensed milk in your cup, add hot water, and then add nestle. Best. Thing. Ever. After our snack we headed home and crashed around 8pm. I woke up wide awake at 12 and then took medicine and crashed again. I’m slowly getting on the time here.
Day 3 (Friday) was a busy and hard day. We worked on the supplies room at the main school all day long. Sounds easy right? Well did I mention we had to move all the supplies from the apartment to the school. Still sound easy? Let me tell you a little bit about what its like to move things in Russia. So we go to this apartment and have to move everything to the hall way. And we probably had about 400 books to carry in these ridiculously heavy boxes. So then from the hall way we take trips down the elevator with it and on load it on the bottom floor. Of course the elevators are tiny here so it took forever. Then from the bottom floor we had to take it outside. Then had to load it in these tiny cars and make trips to the school. Then had to unload it and put it all on the main floor of the school. Then had to take it up 2 flights of stairs to the supplies room. To say the least I am sore! From there we organized everything and started getting things ready for the school year. Its crazy! I feel so young, but yet I have so much responsibility. I teach level 4 and catch up. Level four is from ages 11-15. I am super excited about them. Catch up is the 3-6 year olds. They will be so cute! I got all my information about my class at the institute. Me and Alicia and Jake are opening a new school called Phoenix and I will teach there 4 times a week. We aren’t quite sure how many kids will be in the class yet, so I don’t have a roster or any of their info.  I got a letter from the teacher of the level 3 class last year who will now be my level 4 class. She said the kids are amazing and so smart. I can’t wait! But its overwhelming for sure!  I have all these 4th grade teachers addition books and I made my lesson plans. I have so many manuals I had read before school starts! Yikes!
Awkward story? One of the girls started talking about her missionary and I told her that I had one too. We were kinda  just talking about it and she was asking questions because her boy has only been out for like 7 months. Anywho my head teacher happens to know Daniel because they went to EFY together. So about halfway through the conversation Emily chimes in “You know I had a huge crush on Daniel! You wouldn’t think he was really hot when you first meet him, but then you see his personality and it’s just like mmmmm I want you.” Awks….
Saturday was the day of the ballet! Okay lets be real for a second, the ballet was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. So we met up at the metro and Gulya took us into town. We went on this amazing boat ride on the Moscow river that was 90 minutes. It was amazing! We saw all the fantastic buildings in downtown Moscow! I have so many pictures, it’s not even funny. Guess what? We also met another Mormon from Pleasant Grove, Utah! Crazy huh? His name is Joel and he was here for business. We just got to talking to him and bam! He’s a Mormon and is fluent in English! It was so cool! After the boat ride we sprinted to the ballet. Btw, people are always walking fast here. It’s exhausting. I’m like I am not in shape for this crap. But, its all good. The ballet was inside the Kremlin in this BEAUTIFUL building with so many windows its not even funny! The theater is amazing and the backgrounds were the best I have ever seen. There are tons of boys in the ballets here. Mom, you would have loved it. The ballet we saw was about a Russian fairy tale. It was amazing. Most of my group fell asleep because they didn’t know how to follow a ballet. Good thing I had all that practice with mom and Lins! After the ballet it was so late and I just wanted to go home and sleep, so we did just that!
Sunday we met the senior missionaries at the metro at 7:45 am. Church is about an hour away and with such a large group we have to give ourselves plenty of time to get there. The senior missionary couple have been here for about a year, Brother and Sister Nagley from Utah. They were very sweet and showed us how to get there. It’s kinda complicated because we have to change lines on the train, but hopefully we will be able to find our way back this Sunday. On the way there on one of the trains I had these boys around my age stand by me, and when I say stand by me I mean like at one point one was like 4 inches from my face. I swear Russians have no bubbles. They were so cute and kept looking at me, but I had to keep telling myself that I can look, but I can’t touch. Stupid rules. We went to an international branch which was probably the best ward I have ever had. We met with our bishop, got records transferred, and some of us got callings all on the first day. I haven’t gotten one yet, but I was told I would and that I would be given a talk. So on top of being a new country, learning the language, and teaching, I will have a calling! Its going to be a very busy four months! I love the ward. The most amazing people are there. I was disappointed at all, because we also have 2 elders in my ward and you guys know how I love elders! One is named Elder Potter from England. I’m pretty sure he might be Harry Potter, just saying…. Everyone talked to us and told us how much they need us and how they have been praying for us to come. We have a lot of guys in the ward from Africa. Their accents are SWEET! Aldridge talked to me forever about Russia and how long it took him to get used to it. He is so funny and animated. There is no RS president right now because she moved away, I’m praying I don’t get a calling in that, but you guys know my luck. The current second consoler is great. She is so funny! She is from America and married a Russian and they moved here for awhile because it was a transfer for their company. She hates Russia so much! She seriously can’t wait to go home. I get it. If I had to actually live here for years I don’t think I could to it. Sorry, but there is just nothing like America. My friend Carter who is serving his mission in Russia wrote me and all he talked about the whole time was America. He was like I can’t wait to be back, I miss it so much. I love it here, but I get what they are saying.
Overall church was great! We left and all went back to our houses. I slept on and off the rest of the day. It was bliss. On Sundays are kinda hard. I miss you guys a lot because I actually have time to think. I wish y’all were here to experience everything with me. It’s so amazing here. The city has so much culture and history, and the people are just so much fun to watch. You guys would love it. I already feel like I belong here. Two of the girls in our RS class did the same program I’m doing here like 15 years ago. One of them went home and married a Russian she met at BYU and now they live here. She was like “So don’t think it can’t happen to you too!” I just shook my head, don’t be putting that voodoo on me!
Monday was probably one of my favorite days so far (not that that’s saying a lot). We had training meetings in the morning and afternoon. Everyone was working on lesson plans because school for some of us started on Wednesday. I on the other hand am a freaking genius and flew through my lesson plans, so I was done long before I ever came to the meetings. We had pizza for lunch which is pretty  good, but nothing compared to American or Italian. They have Papa Johns here btw! But I doubt that it tastes right. Apparently no one can follow a freaking recipe in this country because the things you taste like American candy, American soda or snacks or anything we have home does not taste the same. Somebody needs to go back to culinary school, just saying.
Anywho, after we did all our training stuff we headed into down town Moscow to Red Square. First off Red Square is probably the sweetest place ever. You have the Kremlin, St. Basils, Lenin’s dead body, the Gym which is a ritzy mall, and all these other way cool buildings. In the center of it they had set up tons of bleachers for the military band thing. Before the show started we just hung around Red Square and looked at the different bands. The countries that were there were Russia (duh), China, Italy, Germany, Scotland, Poland, Czech Republic, Singapore,  France, and China. Actually there might have been a few others, but I don’t remember. Those were the coolest. Okay so when I got tickets for this I was like yeah that looks pretty cool, but I had no idea how fantastic it would be. So we get in our seats and I sat by Emily and Jake and April. The show starts with Russia taking it off. Let me tell you a little bit more about how it was set up so you can get the full picture. So they set up 3 things of bleachers. Which would have made a square if there was another side, but the other side was left open for the bands to enter. The floor is just the cobbled bricks that Red Square has all over. Nothing crazy or closed off. Only the people that had tickets were let into Red Square that day so no one could just stand in watch. So Russian boys run out to start the show. They are dressed in traditional Russian clothes that the dancers wear and they start dancing, girls join them and they do this way cool dance. Almost looked like something out of Pride and Prejudice. I got a few videos so I can show you guys eventually. After their dance out came soldiers dressed in red with skeleton masks on, and soldiers on horses that had these red overlays on them. It’s hard to explain but it was awesome. The men all circled around the women to protect them and they kinda do this dance thing and then left. After that the Russian military came and did their band thing. They play songs and do cool things with swords and guns. After they were done they get in a circle facing us and start throwing there guns around in perfect harmony. It was sweet. Then at the end they point the guns at the audience and shoot!!! I freaked and took for cover! I don’t know exactly how it worked but it even had like a burst of fire come out! It was awesome! After that each country came out and did a routine! China’s was AWESOME! They brought dancers and they started off doing this dance with what looked like flowers and lily pads and then bam the flowers turned into dragons. It was amazing! Some bands had small fire crackers or puffs  of light go with their routine. It always scared me! A lot of the bands would play Russian folk songs and everyone would join in and sing. It was really cool because everyone felt united. I swear they are vodka drinking songs! After the show they had a fire work show go on for about 10 minutes. The fireworks went off right by St. Basils! It was beautiful! You guys will have to look at the pictures on the real. I wish you all could have seen it, it was amazing. After the show we just went home and crashed because we didn’t get home until like 12.
Tuesday wasn’t crazy exciting. There are 2 new schools opening this year and they don’t have supplies for their school so we had to go to another supplies room and get what we wanted for our schools. It was boring and long and annoying, but its over now and I never have to do it again. The supplies room was outside of Moscow in the country. It was beautiful! There are actual houses and lakes and this cool military museum. It was gorgeous. I forgot to tell you guys how green it is here. There are so many trees! They are tall with white trunks and branches going off about ¾ of the way up. I can’t wait for fall because the city is going to be beautiful. Mom, I almost filmed the trees just for you ;) After we were done we had to walk to the school in the rain! I was soaked because I had a hood and another girl didn’t so I gave her my umbrella.
When we got to the school I joined the other teachers that were preparing to teach. I don’t teach this week at the Institute until Friday and at my new school we aren’t sure when we start. So I am hanging out and in comes Gulya and starts talking to the teachers that are teaching. She say’s Connie’s name and Connie is like oh I’m not teaching today. Well guess what? Connie was teaching and guess how much of her lesson plan she had done for her 3 hour class? Zero. So who comes to the rescue? Me! I had done my lesson plans for my level four and because she teaches a level class too I knew how it worked so with 20 minutes until class, completely drenched, I grabbed her classes books and threw a lesson together. Her kids were about 5-7 and so cute! Guys, I seriously loved it! Have no idea what I’m doing but the kids were so cute! They already speak so well and they have only been in the program for 3 years! It’s absolutely amazing! I took lots of pictures with them. I wish you could hear them talk with their accents, it is so adorable! Steven was my favorite. Connie taught the last 25 minutes of class and read them a book and Steven was having a hard time listening so I asked if I could sit by him. He scooted over in his chair and as soon as I sat down he molded to my body. “Ms. Hailey, what time does your watch say in Russian?” is what he always asks me. They go by military time here so I had to convert it for him. When class was over the kids ran down to their parents and kind strutted up to them and said “Our teachers are cool!” It made me so happy! It is so rewarding to watch them learn and blossom so fast! They are able to tell me in full sentences what happens in books we read. Sometimes they have to think a little bit about what they are saying, but they really know so much. How about you guys just come over and watch me teach for a bit? Maybe we can do a skype session while I’m teaching and you guys can meet the kids! When class was done and Connie told them I won’t be there next time, Steven took my hand and looked at me so perplexed. He said “I don’t want you to leave!” I told him that I would make sure to stop by the next time he had class. To sum it up, my I’m sold, my heart belongs to Steven.
Today (Wednesday) I don’t teach at all so I have spent the whole day at my apartment being lazy! It has been great! I have been reading a lot so that is a good and bad thing. Good because I am hooked on phonics right now, and bad because my Amazon  account that I buy my books for my Kindle is hooked to mom and dad’s bank account. Sorry Mom and Dad! Gulya had a meeting at the kindergarten (our new school) and afterwards she met me at the metro and showed me around the kindergarten. THEY HAVE INTERNET! I am so excited! So I was able to send out this incredibly long email! I know not all of you made it this far, but I know that Mom did! Thanks for being my number one fan Mom! I love all of you and miss you like crazy, although I do get what it’s like for missionaries now. It actually becomes much easier to be away then you thought because you don’t have the constant reminder of what or who you left behind. When I get your emails or read y’alls statis I miss you guess because it reminds me of everything I am missing, but when I am here and busy I don’t have much time to miss anything (not even American food). And it almost gets easier to stop talking to someone or to be reminded of them because it hurts to think of everything it’s missing. I have only 4 months, I can’t imagine 2 years. I see why they get distant or their letters grow short, but no worries guys, I am WAY too much of a talker for that. So I with that tad bit of info I leave you guys! I love you!
Love,
Me