Joined: 27 Nov 2006
|Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 12:39 pm Post subject: Impressions of a teacher living in Moscow
I am the senior teacher at one of English schools in Moscow, Russia. I've lived here for 10 months and can say that all our teachers enjoy Moscow. There’s no hiding the fact that the transport system is overloaded but there is something here for everyone ranging from casinos and night clubs to some of the best concert music and theatre in the world. Boredom is not an option here. The local economy may be best described as dollar-rouble. By this I mean we have native Muscovites earning no more than 1500 roubles a month (about 60 dollars) as well as natives and foreigners earning 1500$ a day! The life and leisure of most EFL teachers sits comfortably in the middle of these to extremes.
How far does the salary go?
We all live reasonably. None of us wants to eat in the most expensive restaurants every night – or throw away hard earned money through an addiction to gambling. But a top night out, no holes barred once a week is well within everybody’s pocket. The school pays for accommodation and offers a monthly travel ticket, which is key as the housing market here is hideously expensive. By contrast snacks, business lunches and good quality fast food (I don’t mean McDonald’s) are all ridiculously cheap.
Getting out and about.
The region is well worth exploring, as is the country as a whole – but it’s BIG. Locally, there are churches and monasteries, writers’ houses, parks, waterways and places of outstanding natural beauty. Further afield there are the artistic and architectural splendours of St Petersburg. The place is a bit too far away for a weekend trip unless you can still manage to cut the mustard in class on Monday morning having had poor quality sleep in the wagon coupe on the train the night before. In the summer holidays, there is also Ukraine: Kiev (9 hours away), Lwow and Odessa. British nationals need no visa for the country. I’ve done all this year.
Personal conduct on the streets and on the Metro.
The Police here have a not-undeserved reputation for truculence. However, I have never had any problem with them. On the few occasions I’ve been approached, I’ve always been in a position to conduct myself with sobriety and courtesy and have had courtesy extended to me in return. An obvious lack of either, especially the former, might get you into trouble. Always carry your passport. The Metro is, in terms of architecture and décor, an absolute delight. But it’s dog-eat-dog at rush hour times. Luckily, as teachers, our timetables mean that we largely don’t need to use the system when it’s operating at its busiest.
We are a family based school and family values govern the behaviour and management and administration. This makes for a very ‘Russian’ experience as far as the the British, North Americans, Australians and New Zealanders who work, or have worked, with us are concerned. On first impression, this might sound like a recipe for disorganization but mutual support at times of difficulty is always immediate and unconditional, and more beneficial to me professionally and personally than just about any other working environment I have enjoyed. We all argue a lot, but more as siblings than as egotistical colleagues. By the way, why don’t you call us with a view to joining us?