It’s been a month since I moved to Moscow – the leaves have transitioned from green to amber and are nestled in the thick sludge teased out of the ground by the autumnal rain. What better way to commemorate the start of autumn in Moscow than with a picture of a белка (squirrel)? A word that seems to pop up everywhere recently. My students at one of my schools wanted to know how to say this word, it seems that this is their school logo and when congratulating them on not speaking Russian for a whole lesson (seriously, if you can say it in English, say it in English), I noticed that the sweets that I handed out were called белочка – ‘little squirrel’.
Every day this city gets friendlier and more welcoming. I finally have my timetable (I think, it is always subject to change), and for a rather nervous person, I crave the stability of knowing that I have two 4-hour slots to teach at a neighbouring city (Zelenograd) and two 1.5-hour slots at a kindergarten within the city every week. Although it is bitterly cold and I look at my friends’ photos of Spain and grimace at the fact that they are in shorts in October, I only have to take a short trip on the metro to remind myself why I chose Moscow: it truly is a beautiful city. I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon.
I would like to say I have been sleeping well and eating healthily, but that would be a horrible lie, and I can’t seem to shake the sleepless nights or the cheap bowls of гречка (buckwheat) padded out by my weekly sushi-splurges at Нияма with my friend Nicole. Already we’re laying plans to go on the Trans-Mongolian train either this summer coming or the summer next year, and it’s amazing to think that I’ve only visited a small slice of Russia – there’s still the East to explore, and the trip would go through Mongolia and cover places like Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Ulan-Bator, before ending up at our final destination – Beijing. Of course, this is an incredibly expensive trip and we are just playing with ideas (plus, this girl needs a summer job), but it is an experience I must have before I’m 30. I’ve got 5 years, I reckon I can squeeze it in somewhere.
There’s another reason I want to travel around Russia – I have bought myself a sketchbook where I document my daily life in Moscow. So far, I have sketched out a metro car and the park near to where I live – I sort of need to do more.
What’s great about living in a capital city like Moscow is that there is so much to do. The other week I was feeling sort of glum, and so took myself off to visit the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts – which was incredibly cheap for the fact that I could skulk the corridors and pretend to know what art is all about for hours on end. I just like pictures, okay? I have no idea what any of them mean. That’s why they have the handy explanations next to them.
My Russian is coming along excellently – in fact I’ve had my nails done twice here and the nail technician – Нонна – complimented me on the fact that I’ve vastly improved since the first time I presented her with my claws and hurriedly said да to everything she offered – making a 1,200р manicure at least double in price. I know now, though, and have a handy list of vocabulary to use in these situations – such as “more glitter please” and “I really like what you’ve done – but I’d like forest green this time – it’s more wintery, y’know?”
Well, I suppose I should get dressed and look mildly presentable for my first time teaching adult learners in Moscow, however I will hopefully settle into a better routine soon and be able to update this blog more with what it’s like to actually teach English here and fill you in on more cultural excursions.
(Oh, by the way, Mum if you’re reading this: you’ll be proud. I bought an iron and ironing water. Being almost-25 has hit me like a high-speed train.)