It's very difficult to know where to begin. It probably does conjure up some definite images in your mind, probably depressing and intimidating. Dispel these myths! After ten months here, I can safely say I've never had so much fun, been so amused and entertained, and never, ever bored. There is always something to do in town, something to see, a new place to eat, drink, club, play whatever sports, or just wander up mysterious side streets, finding all sorts of spectacular architecture. I came to Russia on another teacher's recommendation, and she was right.
Language Link arranges your visas, reimburses your airfare, and then meets you at the airport and takes you into town. You go to your flat, which LL has found and pays for, with easily enough space, full facilities, telephone and short distances from metro stations. They even leave you provisions until you've settled in. There is nothing left to do but go to the office, where you receive your monthly metro passes and medical insurance cards (both provided by LL again).
The office has a very well stocked library of books, tapes and other materials compiled by the teachers. Photocopier, e-mail on a state of the art computer (for our use), fax links, all in all a well-served and very pleasant working environment! This is reflected on the teachers, a diverse and talented group, who I have always found more than willing to help or contribute an idea for a lesson. Many a time have I been stuck, and another has said, "There is a way, a BRILLIANT way…"and lo and behold, there was.
On the computer front, I began an Open University course in Moscow, and needed a machine. Despite being unrelated to Language Link in any way, the programs I needed to run were very generously accommodated into the computer, whilst when I had problems with something, Sergei, the System Administrator, was loaned to help out, although he really did have more pressing work to do! This was unprecedented in its value, and I am incredibly grateful for the assistance I had with this, and is another mark in the company's favour.
Then to the classroom, spacious and light, where you meet and teach people from the most varied and interesting backgrounds you could possibly get in one room.
In you go for tea, coffee or to microwave your food. Speaking of which, food is not a problem. If you want it, you can get it. Indeed, in summer there is just too much. Whether it's from street sellers or from the growing number of supermarkets, it is available, all year, whatever! If need be, you can always go to McDonalds, Pizza Hut or Dunkin Donuts, etc.
What do you want to do? Everything you did at home, with Russian extras besides? Then you can, from playing pool to concerts, to clubbing, to museums, even a few English cinemas. Or you can leave and go to the multitude of sights that surround Moscow, beautiful little towns that are stunning in winter and so relaxed in summer. You can also join the British Council and be privy to a great library and daily newspapers from the UK, if you're desperate for something written intelligibly. The Rough Guide tome is proof of the activities available, so read that, as I haven't got the space.
As said before, flats and flights are reimbursed, which only leaves you to spend the very competitive salary that comes every two weeks. Careful that it doesn't all go on your phone bill.
I don't know what else to say, obviously speaking, Russian might be a bonus, but I've got away with knowing about three words in all this time. In all, it's a great place all round, with that element of excitement and difference that is impossible to get across in words. Just put your name down and come out, see for yourself.
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