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From Russia with love

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by nedkelly, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. What is it about this place that makes it so intriguing? Is it the climate, the culture, it's most turbulent and provocative history, its wealth, scientific and military prowess, the sometimes spectacular natural environment, its many nefarious and covert secrets, its debased political process, or is it those beautiful and captivating Slavic women?

    The source of inspiration for many an Ian Fleming novel and even sung about by the Beatles and Sting, these days of course, since perestroika, Russia has gradually and progressively unmasked itself on the World stage. The country now promises an extraordinary experience for those more adventurous souls willing to seize the initiative, and take on a teaching post with a difference. Churchill once referred to Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, and in many ways this statement still holds some truth today, and therein lies and accentuates its attraction as a destination worthy of consideration.

    There are international schools scattered throughout the vast country, and a review of the ISR reveals many seem to compare favourably with analogous schools elsewhere. So how many of you have actually taught in the Russian Federation, and would be prepared to share your experiences here on this forum?
     
  2. I would love to ... but a major reason for teaching abroad was to ESCAPE the cold so there is no way I would live in Russia for months on end. I simply could not cope. Otherwise, it definitely merits a visit at some point. It is on my list of places to visit.
     
  3. Liking vodka doesn't mean I could live on it.
    Agree with maja; the cold!
     
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Established commenter Community helper

    As Mrs Hippo is a Russian lady, of course I agree with all of the above comments about sexy Russian females. Vipim zo prikrasni dam! It's my favourite Russian toast and, roughly translated, it means "Let us drink to beautiful ladies."
    By the way, Russians never mix vodka with tonic or anything like that. They also think that it is terribly bad manners to drink without any food on the table, so you drink your voditcha neat, well chilled, from little glasses with your zakuski (hors d'oeuvres or starters).
    Next, I am sure that Mainwaring will enlighten us on the subject of Spanish senoritas and how we should drink tequila.
     
  5. Oh for fruits' sake Neddy!
     
  6. My only 'memory' of the former USSR is that I live near where some scenes from Dr Zhivago were shot, The locals still talk about how scandalous Geraldine Chaplin was driving up and down the main street in a red convertible.
    There is my mother's memory, of course, about her days in Cambridge with all the intelligentsia and we know who they were and what they did.
    OOOps here I go again talking about me.
     
  7. Yes Hippo, Russian women are incredibly beautiful...and I wonder if it is due to environmental factors or is it genetic...or both?
    But as a country of intrigue, I would like to relate the following experience. I remember walking in Red Square, visiting Lenin's tomb and those incredible museums of antiquity inside the Kremlin, and then enjoying a coffee at a franchised American restaurant , all within 100 metres of each other. In the same area one could walk past possibly some of the most exclusive and expensive restaurants in the World, all fully booked, chauffeur driven limousines waiting on hand, and then witness the Police moving on the street beggars, homeless women and children, waiting just outside. Visit the Bolshoi theatre, and enjoy some of the finest ballet you will ever see, only to later feel despondent on learning how little the state pays their excessively talented , premium dancers.
    A city of..and dare I say, a country of.. contrasts, and contradictions.. only now more apparent since glasnost!!
     
  8. the evil tokoloshe

    the evil tokoloshe New commenter

    As with the rest of the former Eastern bloc no doubt. Certainly from my travels in a few of the countries that were not Russian, there was still a lot of resentment for the way that people had been subjugated (spelling?) by the Communist regime. Always an interesting topic of conversation and despite a lot of the inherent difficulties of changing the systems in some of these countries, nobody really wanted to go back. That's why I bought all the little tin badges I could!
     
  9. the evil tokoloshe

    the evil tokoloshe New commenter

    Mmmmmm....... ice cold slightly viscous vodka coating the back of your throat then slowly warming through followed by a piece of dark bread, a pickle or a piece of dried fish - delicious.
     
  10. ..yes ET, this is true certainly among the former satellites such as Poland and Lativa. Ukraine is different. In the west of the country there still resides much resentment against their former masters. In the east of the country though, and certainlly in the Crimea, many people are very much pro-Russian and there are still strong ties with the former motherland. Sadly, many people look back on those days as part of the USSR with considerable fondness. Ask why the old days were better, and they will tell you without hesitation- job security and no unemployment, almost free housing for everyone, free health care, ultra cheap holidays to such places as Turkey, Eygypt etc... and NO crime in the streets!!
     
  11. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Occasional commenter

    I have news for you, young pachyderm. Tequila isn't Spanish. There IS in fact a company here that distils a rough spirit from agave. I'd hesitate to drink it but I'm told that Big Frank occasionally sprinkles it on his chipolata with a muttered prayer to St Jude Thaddeus (patron saint of lost causes).
     
  12. the version i like ...
    First cow asks "Why are you not worried?"
    "Because I'm a teapot".


     
  13. Not Jersey then...
     
  14. .....A Google search reveals about 12 international schools scattered throughout Russia. Most are situated in Moscow , though there are two schools in St Petersburg, and at least one in Vladivostok. The three reviewed in the ISR seem to be OK on balance, and certainly no worse than many of those situated in other countries. ......so who teaches/ has taught in this country? ....it would be good to hear from someone that does/has!!
     
  15. Hello, nedkelly. Yes, I taught at the 'british' one in Moscow which was a rather terrible experience. The name itself is a misnomer as it has absolutely no connections to anything British whatsoever and is owned and run by a millionare Russian woman who sees everthing in terms of the rouble- including kids themselves. The place (secondary) is a tiny building in the far south of the city: even the website picture is a lie as the building complex on the left has nothing to do with it (that's another school all together) so the entire 'secondary' place looks like a few untidily piled matchboxes. The accommodation one is offered- which, of course, one has to accept as there's nothing else- was the worst, in many years of international teaching, I've ever stayed in: filthy, stinking, packed with broken furniture and, of course, completely at the mercy of rapacious landlords. One also pays through the nose for it (perhaps as much as half one's salary) and the school offers no help at all once one has moved in. For more on this school, have a look at expat.ru (click on 'education') where one can read the thoughts and comments of others.


     
  16. ..thanks for the input stpaul. Maybe you should post this on the ISR? The existing reviews are quite glowing by comparison!!
     
  17. Not a member, although, as I said, expat.ru has a plethora of comments about the place by staff, parents and, last time I looked, some kids as well. The ISR comments were probably written by either primary teachers ( I know little about the primary conditions) or, more likely, 'management' in the secondary division, whose vested interest should clearly not be trusted. The place is run for profit plain and simple and keeps going due to backhanders from the owner to the dark and brooding powers of the Russian government. To get work visas, for example, one takes an over-night train to Riga (very dodgy), reports to the Russian Embassy (ditto), and then returns to Moscow a day after. All very Burgess-esque. Anyway, have a look at the aforementioned website for a more expansive overview.
     
  18. ...yes it appears to be the the norm in any part of the former Union. I remember travelling overnight by train to Warsaw in order to obtain a work permit at the Ukraine embassy. Now that was an experience! Although almost empty on departure, many people would choose to board the train at the last stop before the border, and after a brief time start removing panels from walls and ceilings in order to conceal the contraband (mostly cigarettes) they would smuggle to Poland. The guards on duty of course knew aboard this apparently common practice, but would do nothing- being paid for their blindness!
    I also recall stopping at the border for over 3 hours while the train axles were changed in order to fit the broader gauge polish line!
    Memories yes, but not so sweet!!

     
  19. Well...yes, teachers may be working on a three month visa which requires them to leave the country and travel somewhere in order to get a new visa (usually the UK for Brits). A pain perhaps, but it's hardly the stuff of Ian Fleming, and it does get you a tax free salary!
     

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