Korolev, or what used to be called Kaliningrad, was especially designed and built for the Russian space industry and its employees and their families in the 1940s. As the space industry and its activities were considered top secret, the town was closed and out of bounds for foreigners…sorry 007! This changed some years ago and it is now possible to find Korolev on the more recent maps. As for its location and size, Korolev is in the Moscow Region and is 25 km north-east of Moscow. With a population of about 250,000, Korolev is quite a large town by Russian standards. View the photo gallery.
Language Link was started in Korolev in 1995 and is the only language school in the town to employ native speakers. The school moved to newly built premises, built in 2002, which are easy to reach. The classrooms are modem, well-designed, spacious, ideal for teaching and the teenagers have not started drawing on the new tables yet! Each classroom is equipped with a white board and CD player. Also, at school there is a teachers' room with a photocopier and a small, but adequate resource library.
Teaching is 30 academic hours per week, Monday to Friday. Usually, teaching is at the school from 3.50 p.m. to 8.50 p.m. with breaks in between the lessons and each teacher has five groups (maximum 12 students in a group). The levels range from beginner to upper-intermediate. However, some teachers may teach in-company clients, individual students or exam preparation classes (Cambridge First Certificate or Cambridge Advanced). As well as this, some teaching is done in a local school with young learners.
The students are very friendly, keen to learn English, kind and generous. Their ages range from 5 years old to adult. They are also very hospitable so do not be surprised, if some of the older students invite you for a drink or to their home for dinner.
Teachers live alone in one room flats or share with another Language Link teacher in two room flats. All flats are in the town and are close to school. Language Link pays the rent and all the bills, excluding telephone and internet. The flats are furnished and perfectly livable, though quite basic.
As already mentioned, each apartment has a telephone. A good idea is to buy one of the international phone cards, which can be bought locally, as it works out a lot cheaper. For the Internet, the school recently became equipped with internet access. It should be noted however, that while it is okay to check and write emails to your friends or family at home, there is only one computer with internet access for more than 5 teachers and this same computer is also used for teaching purposes. So, sharing is the norm! It is also possible to connect to the internet at your apartment through one of the numerous companies around. You can get a good connection for between 400-800 roubles per month depending on the speed of the connection. You will be responsible for paying for this yourself. There are several computer cafes or clubs in town. You can just walk in and use the Internet and it is quite cheap.
In Korolev, there are many small shops and some larger Western-style supermarkets, good if you want to avoid asking for a loaf of bread six times with beginner Russian and your phrase book. The most recent of these is a great supermarket called “Kovcheg.” “Kovcheg” is a huge store with not just a great selection of food but also kitchen supplies, and home supplies such as bed sheets and towels. Anything basic that you find yourself needing can be found here! Most of these stores are open 24 hours a day. In addition to these there are the numerous kiosks dotted all along the streets.
As well, there are a few local markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables, plus hundreds of other things ranging from old telephones and washing powder to children's toys and clothes. The markets are well worth visiting.
Naturally, there are all the other shops and services you need, a chemist's or drug store, post office, hairdresser's, stationer's, dry-cleaner's etc. An added bonus is as Korolev is in the suburbs; it is generally cheaper than Moscow.
One of the best ways to get around in the town is on foot, especially in the fine summer weather. Alternatively, and when it is not summer, public transport (bus, train and marshrutka, a mini-bus service similar to the bus) is regular, reliable and cheap. Using public transport to get to and from work may be necessary and is reimbursed with the salary towards the end of every month. Going to and from Moscow is just as easy by public transport. However, if you are coming back quite late at night, make sure you do not miss the last train or bus back, especially in winter!
Moscow is not far away and naturally as it is the Russian capital it has much more to offer than Korolev in terms of sightseeing, cinema, theatre, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes. It is perfectly possible to go into Moscow for the day or for an evening and come back, but just remember that last train or bus! Going out locally is an option and can be a great cultural experience and a good way to meet and get to know the Russians. In Korolev, there are several bars, restaurants and discos to suit most tastes and budgets.
A few places are:
- Uno Momento: This is a great little pizza café right on the main street of Korolev. They provide free WiFi internet access and the food is pretty good too! Sometimes on the weekends they offer music and dancing.
- Bravo: The most popular local disco, frequented by affluent young adults. It can be quite good fun there and the D.J, Yuri, speaks good English and he is normally happy to play a song, when we ask him.
- Expronto: A relatively new pizza place, similar to Pizza Hut, with reasonable priced pizzas. There are two locations in Korolev. One is near the school, so this is one of the places your students may take you after class.
- Viaggio: This is a brand new Italian restaurant that is located in the same shopping center as Kovcheg. They offer some great Italian dishes and pizza along with some wonderful wine. However, for some reason the wine is not very cheap! The dishes are reasonably priced and offer good portions. Some of the friendly waitresses will even try out some of their English on you.
- Kroshka Kartoshka: Like McDonald's, but instead of burgers and fries they do baked potatoes and pies.
There are a couple of swimming pools, the best one at Wimple - the local sports centre, gyms for weight lifting, shaping and aerobics and the local parks are good for jogging ... apparently. Also, there are a couple of places where you can shoot American pool or try your hand at Russian billiards, if you can ever figure out the rules, ….and the Russians say cricket is a complicated game!
In addition to everything in Moscow, in Korolev there is the World War II memorial, several churches and chapels, Lenin's country house, the statue of Korolev (the rocket scientist who the town is named after), the house of Maria Tsvetaeva (the well-known poet that I had never heard of!), the local history museum and if you enjoy walking, there is Losiniy Ostrov (Elk Island in English), a national park. Plus, not far from Korolev is the old monastery town of Sergiev Posad.
In Korolev you can get the best of both worlds, Moscow and everything there is there, plus all the benefits of living in a smaller, quieter suburb.
Language Link in Korolev, is a small and friendly school and for teaching there is the bonus of having a photocopier and resource library. Nina, the administrator, will try to make your stay as comfortable as possible and can speak some English. The students are just as friendly, hospitable and helpful. I have made many good friends here, students and non-students. Therefore, because of all these reasons one can feel very at home in Korolev.
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