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!
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,