Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Snapshots and travel plans

It's been a great month so far!

Кит says hi!

I'm finally feeling settled in at work. I've got a weekly schedule down and also picked up one of those really silly-sounding job titles: social media manager. (Like, what is that?) Working hours are mainly spent writing new English lessons with a little Facebook / Instagram / Twitter thrown in. I'd never used Twitter or Instagram before this, am still a little suspicious of Twitter. And once in a while we have a cast session to record audio or video with local actors. It was intimidating in the beginning, but these sessions are starting to be more enjoyable now.

Next month I'm going to be testing out the true definition of working remotely because... Russia!!! It's finally all come together- visa, plane tickets, and enrollment at a state university in Nizhny Novgorod :D

There's a one-month summer program for foreigners who are learning Russian. It's a Mon-Fri schedule of language classes + "cultural excursions". How fun does that sound?! D thinks it's the academic version of a tourist trap, but that's totally cool with me. Nizhny Novgorod looks like a fascinating city and reminds me a bit of Kharkiv- it seems to be all universities + IT industry.

Although that excitement is ahead, I try not to get too distracted by it. There's still a lot of stuff going on here. D's mom moved out to Hawaii and has been welcomed by the community of Russian-speakers who live out there. I'd been holding onto this gift bag from Ukraine, so we packed it up with a tropical weather outfit and sent it her way.

Everything is good with English classes and testing, but I'm a little bummed because one of the other volunteers is leaving soon. She's one of those really dependable people and she's always there, so it'll be tough without her. We've had a lot of new students coming in lately. Last week there were- I think?- eight new students for testing, including a man from Odessa and a woman from St Petersburg. I started teaching a class and there are sooo many different nationalities in it now. This picture is from a week with a small class-

Also, I started using a pedometer, trying to get 10,000 steps every day. Have you ever tried this? It's a nice way to see more of what's happening around the city.

Last weekend my friend and I went to the Japanese Garden. It's on a hilltop outside the city (10,000 steps achieved!) and right next door to the rose garden.

Then we stopped at the rose garden gift shop for this lemonade. It's amazing stuff- rose oil, ginger, lemon. If you ever see this in a store, definitely try it out!

And there were tacos later ;)

Walking down the hill from the gardens, we found an unusual bumper sticker! It says in Russian, "I'm not a spy." I wish we could have met the owner of this car.

Yesterday I put the pedometer back on and went out for a walk with a neighbor. We found an overwhelmingly green park-

and then went to the healing garden just before the rain returned.

A few weekends back I went to this little cafe with my parents. It was open music night, so people could show up with whatever instrument they played. One of the first musicians had a koto, which I'd never seen before. Beautiful!

In home news, a tea turned up (hooray!)-

I randomly found it in a box on D's desk. He'd brought it from his mom's place as she was packing up / decluttering for the move. I think it has a really funny name. Nostalgia for the days of the czars, I guess? Anyway, it's GOOD tea. I've been drinking this every morning.

Some interesting snail mail arrived: a long letter from a Macedonian artist penpal who lives in the desert, and this postcard from a former student.

Speaking of cats...

Кит is doing well. His favorite thing about summer is corn-on-the-cob. It's a weird choice for a cat, but he goes ballistic if he sees someone eating it. I don't understand why he likes it, but he meows and meows until someone gives him a few kernels. Perhaps he got some ideas from this Japanese dog?

My goals for the rest of the month are to work ahead as much as possible just in case there are some problems with the "remote work" plan (there's good wifi in Russia, right?) and keep hitting 10,000 steps a day. How about you? What are your goals for the next few weeks? :)


  1. 1. I am SO jealous you're going to Russia! We're looking at houses or otherwise I'd blow all my money on a trip back :)

    2. Do you have a fitbit for counting steps? I'm thinking about getting one because I can see myself getting really lazy this summer but I'm not sure if it's worth the price.

    1. I just bought a Fitbit flex off my friend, and it's worth every penny. I have small wrists so I thought it would look stupid on me. It may look stupid on me, but it's not as bothersome as I thought it would be. I would say if you just want it for counting steps just go with the Flex. Also tracks your sleep too.

    2. Polly, wow! Houses are cool :) Hope that all goes smoothly and you guys find an awesome base of operations. Yeah, the fitbit is what I've been using and I totally agree with what Jasilyn wrote. Mine (well, appropriated from husband) is the basic, non-fancy one and it's SO motivating. I think it psychically shouts threats when I'm not on target, haha. They say it syncs with a phone, but I don't even do that. I just obsessively push the "how many steps" button :p

  2. I didn't even get to the bottom, so I may comment again, but I might be going to Nizhny Novgorod next month too, but just to visit! I wish they had language lessons here. I really need them!

    1. I bought a Fitbit off my friend a few weeks ago, and it's making walk so much! I never take the bus anymore!

    2. Drop me a line if you end up there in July, Jasilyn! We should totally meet for tea, wine, or whatever people are drinking in NN in the summer.

    3. I will! It would be awesome if we could meet!

  3. Wait.... I missed something... Are you moving? To Russia???