Another thing you might wish to consider before taking a trip here is to learn a little Russian. You will find that being able to speak, read and write in Russian will not only help you get around and deal with the day to day things, but will also open doors for you that would remain shut as far as teaching goes. I did not bother with learning Russian, but I know that it would have been of a great benefit to you if you learn at least enough Russian to be polite and respectful.
Coming here to Russia to teach will be a choice I will never regret making, I will never forget all the things I have seen and done here. In the US, I would have never been able to afford to see a Paul McCartney, and Rolling Stones concert or watched Patrick Swazey making a movie as it was being filmed in Red Square last month. There is always something going on here, just about every weekend there is a festival of some sort going on in one of the parks. I always see something new on my way to classes.
Because I am a teacher, I have been able to go into old mansions and buildings that the general public can not go into because of the businesses located in these mansions and buildings had contracts with the school I taught at for English lessons. In the US, the only police I ever saw with machine guns were Swat officers I would see on TV, here, it is common to see police with machine guns, plus some of the buildings I have taught at had police with machine guns. Security is pretty tight here in Moscow because of terrorists from Chechnya that like to cause trouble every now and then, but as far as safety goes Moscow is as safe or safer than most US cities.
What do I like best about living here in Moscow? That Moscow is so much like stepping back in time. To watch people in the parks reminds me so much of when I was growing up in the 60’s. I walked to school just like children do here, people can go out at night here, children can play in the park alone or go to the store for a soda or sweets alone. Women can go to work and go shopping alone without worry. Not to mention the outdoor advertising that is done here reminds me so much of the ads you would see in the 50’s and 60’s.
It would take me writing a book before I could tell you all the things I have done, seen, and the people I have met. All the boat tours, tours, the museums, galleries, the parks and my favorite, the walking tours you take on your own for free. I guess because I come from Albany, Georgia with a population of 160,000 people, a city as large and old as Moscow, with something new to do and see every day kind of puts me in owe. To be able to say that I have taught English, history and business in one of the oldest, largest world capital cities makes me feel good.
And to meet some of the nicest people I have ever met, I met right here in Moscow. They have never failed to help me in every way if they could. You can stop somebody on the street for directions and they will gladly help you if they can. One very special person, a young lady, Victoria, I met about four years ago has helped me in many ways, both her and her mother and father.
Yes, getting all the paper work to be able to teach and work in Russia is not easy, if you do it on your own, but it is well worth the trouble and aggravation. Plus, you can always let the school that is interested in hiring you handle all the government paper work. I will never regret coming here to teach. Russia is a country that is changing, after many years of communist rule, there now is a free market economy taking hold here. Some changes come slowly, and some changes are coming quickly. I bet Lenin rolls over in his grave a million times per week from all the Mercedes, BMWs, and Ferraris the new upper and middle class now drives. I think that exemplifies the changes going on here now. It is exciting to be here in the middle of these changes. Never let all the aggravation persuade to give up on your dreams. It is not easy, but well worth the trouble if you like excitement, seeing and experiencing new things, and meeting new people. Money can be made here in Moscow if you know how. There are people getting rich here every day here. Nothing worth having is ever easy to get, if there is a will, there is a way. So come to Russia, the land of mystery to most Americans, but a land that will welcome you.
Excerpted from "How To Prepare For Living And Working In Russia" in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 62.