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My first blog from Russia!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my first blog from Russia! Where I have just begun working as a the head teacher at a private kindergarten in the city of Kazan. It`s been quite the two weeks as I have traveled to Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine and finally onto Russia in that time span.

There`s so much to say! For the sake of this blog I`ll keep focus mainly on health and fitness as I now experience it here....but I welcome your questions.

There`s no doubt in my mind that I am going to lose some serious weight here. Is it because I am walking more? No, I am afraid not...the streets are like ice rinks and one can barely walk let alone workout outside; but rather I am eating extremely tempting junk around the house and because now my body is demanding I be light on my feet (chasing kids!) I naturally want to eat very small portions. I always tried to follow the Japanese rule of eating until 80% full now that is becoming the rule.

Life here in Kazan is very, very, very different than what one in North America, western Europe or Australia is used to. Besides the outdoors being particular dangerous (ice) the sun doesn`t rise until 9:30 AM and sets at 4:00 PM and to think I start work at 9 and end at 6! I have always been an early riser and now my body is having a hard time adjusting to the overall lack of sun.

A day after arriving in Kazan I began working out and it has made all the difference! Despite the cold, the changes in language, climate and culture etc I am in great health at the moment because of the choices to eat extremely healthy, workout and try to keep a sense of humour about everything! I am fortunate to have made four or five fellow expat friends already and there are two things we all agree on: you got to stay healthy for your kids (nannies and teachers) and Russia is NOT for the first time expat.

Russia marks country number 18 visited for me and country five lived in for me and let me tell you---it`s unlike anywhere else in the world: there`s buracracy like none other, huge differences in social class, a sense of adventure but a sense of paranoia. In Moscow the sheer number of police everywhere was interesting. It`s impotant to remember the Russia I live in is only 20 years old....when I was a child people were afraid of this place and now I feely live here. People here in Tataristan are very kind but honestly... cannot be said for Moscow at large, learning to read Russian takes pracice and few speak English.

The women I work with...all very not speak English. I was not expecting this but lunch is prepared for staff at my school which is a good thing because I am eating Russia/Tatar food I would not probably try otherwise; it all is quite nutrious too e.g borscht.

There are challenges ahead in the coming weeks. My school though well stocked and beautiful hasn`t got the first clue about curriculum development or class room management and though they have no set expecations for me...have actually granted me more power and control than I ever thought I would have this early in my career, I cannot help but to put pressure on myelf. I have already re-writen my lesson plans twice! I have met most of my kids and they are cute as buttons but teaching them (most have no English language exposure) will be hard at first.

Losing weight is important (dropped a pants size already!) but staying healthy and always working hard is number one. As two of close expat girl friends here have noted this is crucial and so is having something to look forward to as life is hard here. One is going to Brazil in April and I will be going to a concert in Moscow next month. HEEEEEEEEE I am going to see the band Rammstein for the second time in my life (the first time when I was 14) on the 11th and I am so excited!! This band is especially popular in Russia and getting lost in Moscow for six damn hours in order to get the ticket was trying....but I did it!!! At the moment the concert is motivating me to stay healthy, positive and learn the Russian alphabet fully.


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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What an amazing experience! That you for sharing your adventure with us. I look forward to hearing more about your teaching in Russia.
    3335 days ago
    Thank you for your fascinating blog. It took me back to my childhood when we were in a very frightening (to me as a youngster) Cold War with Russia. I am always gratified when the world awakens to peace and we are able to understand our unique cultures. What fun for you to be able to travel and use your abundant skills around the world.
    I am a special ed teacher of 35 years. I admire your enthusiasm and dedication.
    Good luck on your travels and adventures.
    Leslie in California
    3336 days ago
    What an adventure! You're doing great staying healthy and making good choices!
    3336 days ago
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    Loved your Blog and your sense of adventure !
    I am sure you will make such a difference to all your pupils and staff . Glad you are eating well and loving your job !!
    keep the blogs up... we want to know all about how you are going and what the country and people are like !!
    Love and Hugs Susie emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3336 days ago
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