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 Café 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!
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!!