A pleasant surprise. I’m not sure where to begin, but if you’ve already read about Zelenograd on the Language Link (LL) website, I’ll try to put your mind at ease. Don’t let the introduction to Z-grad dissuade you (Home of the Brave: we few, we happy few…), no bravery is required to live in Z-grad. While we may all want to define ourselves by the “fine and pleasant miseries” we tolerate, that won’t be necessary in Z-grad.
Yes, Zelenograd is not Moscow, but getting together with Russian friends and adult students at teachers’ flats or bars/clubs is very common. For those who favor junk food, Z-grad has many fast food restaurants: McDonald’s, KFC (Rostiks in Russia), Central Pizza, Pizza Sole Mio, Church’s Chicken (Texas Chicken here), Pita Pita, Teremok (a crêperie that fills “bliny” with sweets, meats, and vegetables to order), Kroshka Kartoshka (similar idea, but “small potatoes” to order), etc. If you want to sit down for a meal out, you can go to Moo-Moo’s (home-style cafeteria chain restaurant), Pronto’s (best pizza in town - also a chain - with a full menu), Salt and Pepper, etc. Z-grad also offers two movie theaters with a combined five screens showing new releases.
As far as “living” goes, flats are accurately described on the LL website, except that no teacher of whom I know is without a washer – but you will have to hang-dry your laundry. I think most of us are set up with internet access at whatever speed we choose to afford. And, given the healthy exchange rate at which we’re paid, one can afford faster rather than slower. Everyone picks up a cell phone and they are the technology “du jour” for teens here as in the States – calling, texting, surfing the web. While supermarkets abound, most are smaller than the American definition of “super” but there are a couple in town that do fit that description. Point is, whatever you’re looking for is available but you may go to 2-3 stores for different things.
The real question becomes why come to Zelenograd instead of Moscow. I came to Russia for three reasons: to spend time with my adult son (who is returning next Fall to teach), to fulfill a 25-year-long dream to visit Russia, and to try my chops at a new career – TEFL. I don’t know that I could have asked for a better situation. Z-grad gives you the distance to focus on your teaching during the week without the potential distractions (to stay out too late and miss work the next day) that may tempt someone in Moscow, while offering the proximity to go into Moscow when needing/wanting to do things.
If anyone wonders why there are more and more vacancies in Zelenograd, the answer is simple - LL Z-grad is growing rapidly. There are packed classrooms (limited ≤12 students) every night of the week from 4:00 to 9:30pm, and corporate clients keep asking if LL Z-grad can accommodate more classes during the work day. The bottom line is that Z-grad has more business right now than its facilities and staff can readily accommodate, and is considering how to continue to grow.
And if you thought that I’d left out some important details, I haven’t. LL Zelenograd has an incredibly friendly administrative and teaching staff. Everyone understands the challenges that come with teaching all age groups and learning levels, and are willing to help each other out whenever and wherever needed. If you don’t know Russian, they will help you in any way possible to get set up and comfortable upon your arrival and throughout your time here. While living in a foreign country can have its challenges, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any of them among the people you’ll meet in Zelenograd.