|I know of
many teachers who have been working here for many years, one teacher I
know of has been working at a school for five years, another I know worked
at a school for three years and now work at another school. So I know that
a lot of teachers are doing just the same as I did. I plan on working
here a couple of years then either going back to the US or to another country
That is the
easiest way to go about coming here to Russia to live and work and the
way that the majority of teachers from the US coming to Russia do it. I
would recommend that you do it that way, because it not only is easy, but
also a lot less trouble and saves you time, aggravation, and expense. You
will most likely have to sign a contract good for three months during summer
on up to a year for full time teaching and that could limit your options
and freedom somewhat. You just have to negotiate a contract that
suites you and meets you expectations. Some schools offer good contracts
that only require that you do not accept any of the schoolís students as
clients on your own, other schools offer very bad contracts that limit
what a teacher can and can not do. No contact outside of class with
students, no outside work allowed by the teacher, you can not turn down
classes at bad hours, no help with travel, few or no benefits, low pay
and no help with rent or living accommodations. By law, a contract
must be in both Russian and English to be enforceable in a Russian court.
you choose to go about coming here to Russia to work, there are several
things you should bring to Russia with you when you come. These documents
will come in handy and it is better to have them and not need them, than
need them and not have them with you. All documents should not only be
notarized by a licensed notary in your hometown, but also have an Apostille
placed on it. An Apostille is an international recognized notary seal.
In my home state of Georgia, only the Georgia State Superior Court Clerk
can place an Apostille seal on a document or copy of a document.
An Apostille is a notary seal recognized in other countries. Before a notary
here in Russia will notarize a translation of a document, it must have
an Apostille, no ifs ands or buts about it. If a translation or document
can not be notarized in Russia, then it will not be accepted by the police
in charge of visas, and residencies visas. The school you will be teaching
for or business you will be working for should advise you on which documents
you will need to bring with you.
The first thing
you will need is an invitation from a Russian citizen or licensed business
here in Russia before a visa will be issued. There are many ways
to get an invitation to come to Russia. The school or business
you are interested in working for, a friend you might know, the hotel
you will stay at, there are even businesses here that will get you a tourist
or business visa for a price here. A tourist visa is good for a month
and a personal home stay visa is good for three months, a business visa
is good for three months on up to a year. I would recommend that
you get an invitation from a school or other employer, it will be good
for three months on up to a year. But you have to consider your reasons
and options before deciding on the way to go.
You may need
a notarized letter with an Apostille from your local police department,
or sheriff stating that you have never been in prison and have no arrest
record. I am not sure if you need this if you accept a formal job
with a school or not, they should advise you if you do. You will
find it easier if you already have this document with you before you come
here to work. I had to get this letter myself when I applied for
temporary residence and know it would have been easier if I had it before
coming. You can not count on any help from the US embassies US Citizenís
Service as they only make excuses. Funny since they demand that all
Russians applying for US visas must provide such letters themselves from
the Russian Embassy, but that is another story.
If you are
going to stay here in Russia for more than three months, you have to have
several medical tests done. I have heard that some teachers had these
tests done in the US before they left, but I think it is better to have
the tests done here because it saves not only time, but the expense of
translation and notarized here in Russia. Plus I believe that the
Russian governmental officials prefer, if not require these tests to be
done here. You will need an AIDS/HIV, TB, VD and drug tests done.
Next, I know
if you apply for temporary residence, you should have a letter from your
bank stating the amount of your bank account, to prove that you are able
to support yourself until temporary residence is granted. You are
not a Russian citizen, therefore you will not be entitled to receive things
like free medical care, pensions, food, housing and what not. This
is only to prove that you are able to provide for yourself and those with
you. I would recommend opening another bank account either here in
Russia or in the US and deposit $1000.00 if you are coming here alone,
that is good enough to satisfy the governmental officials. Whether
or not this is required for those coming to work here under contract with
some school or business, I can not say. I do not think it is since
you have a job you are coming for, but you should ask the school if you
would need this before coming just to make sure.
also bring copies of important documents notarized that will come in handy,
things such as degrees you have, certificates, military discharge, letters
of reference, things that would help you find a job in the US will be just
as handy here also. Only notarized copies of important documents
such as diplomas, discharges, certificates such as your TEFL/TESL certificate
should have an Apostille on them. (Leave important one of a kind
papers and documents at home, just bring notarized copies with Apostille
stamp on them) Certain documents such as birth certificates, marriage
certificates, degrees and certificates like your TEFL certificate, must
be the original, notarized and have an Apostille seal, no copies will be
accepted by governmental offices, only the original. I say this because
you never know when you may need such documents and it is better to have
what you need and not need it than need a document and not have it.
Better safe than sorry.
Once you get
here to Russia and decide that you want to stay, you will have to get all
your documents translated into Russian and notarized by a Russian notary.
There are many translation businesses here, that is their only business,
to translate and notarize documents. The costs vary, depend on how
soon you need it to be done and where the translation office is located
(the closer to the center of the city the more expensive it is).
I know because I work for a couple of them on the side sometimes myself.
to Russia to live and work is not easy. You have to be willing to
work hard, and deal with various governmental rules and laws. But
believe me, if you hang in there and do not get discouraged and give up,
you will have a wonderful one of a kind adventure here in Russia awaiting
you, not to mention a good job also if you choose. I have met and
worked with some wonderful and interesting people here in Russia, Russians,
even worked with an African American and Native American teacher, a teacher
from Greece, not to mention my students whom I have learned as much from
if not more than what they learned from me. I think that most Americans
are the same as I am, grew up during the cold war period and was taught
that Russians were evil atheists that wanted to take over the world.
But coming here, I have seen nothing like that. You will find churches
every where, both new churches and old churches, some as old as 800 years.
The Russians are no different that people in the US.
This is the
process in brief is as follows depending on whether or not you come on
a business invitation that a school issues or on a personal invitation.
It is mainly the process that I myself went through, but since you
will most likely come by invitation of a school, the process maybe different,
but it will give you an idea of what to expect.
school will send you an invitation to visit Russia, plus round trip plane
tickets, and paperwork for your visa. You will have to send your passport,
copies of plane tickets and insurance policy and paper work the school
sent you to the Russian Embassy, the school should advise you on what to
send make sure you know and follow their instructions exactly. If
you are doing this on your own, send the invitation you received from an
acquaintance or business in Russia, copies of your round trip tickets,
proof of medical insurance, your passport and a money order for the required
fee. When I did it, the fee was $85.00 for a three-month visa last
year when I applied.
you arrive in Russia a school representative should meet you at the airport,
and take care of the registration process. If you are coming on your
own, either your hotel will register you with the police, or whoever invites
you will have to do it. You have to keep your passport and papers in order
just in case the police stop you, I never been stopped myself, but I have
seen others stopped and their papers checked. The school or business
you are working for should handle this, or if you are on your own, you
have to handle this process yourself. MAKE SURE YOU OBEY THE LAW!
you are doing this on your own, you will have to go to the local police
station in your district and get the forms and find out what tests you
will need, what forms you will need if you apply for temporary residence.
Be prepared to wait in a long line of other people doing the exact same
thing. One of the reasons why it is best to let the school you are
working for to handle all of this.
am not sure if you will be required to have medical tests done for accepting
work with a school, I am sure you will have to, so the school should arrange
all medical appointments and pay for the tests. If youíre on your
own and want to apply for temporary residence, then you will have to go
to three or four different clinics and have, TB, VD, AIDS/HIV, and a drug
you get all the medical tests done, you have to take the results back to
the local police station and let the officer handling your application
review them. If you are lucky, every thing will be in order and they
will carry them to the main police station. If your application is
approved, you will be sent a letter telling you when you should come and
be finger printed. They say it takes six months for an application
for temporary residence to be either approved or denied, but from my experience
and from talking with others in line at the police, it is rare that it
is done in six months. This is the main reason why I say it is better
to let the school or company you are working for to handle all this.
In my opinion most people are better off just accepting work for a year,
then reapplying for a business visa each year, or having the school renew
your contract or letting another school you might wish to work with handle
it. That way, you get a free trip back home and another free trip
back to Russia, if the school renews your contract or hires you.
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.
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 60ís. 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 50ís and 60ís.
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.
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.
As some of
you may have heard, Chechen terrorists are now claiming that they sabotaged
and crashed two Russian airliners last week. Yesterday another terrorist
blew herself up outside of a subway station and today a group of Chechen
terrorists took over a school in the south of Russia. I feel as safe here
in Moscow if not safer than I did in most cities in the US. Terrorists
can strike anywhere at any time, even in the US. You have to be careful
here in Moscow, just as you do anywhere else in the world. Sometimes,
keep a low profile, do not speak loudly in English, and be aware of whatís
going on around you, but generally, Moscow is a very safe city, security
is tight almost every where now, most buildings you can not get into without
a pass. Most buildings have security and cameras, police patrol just
like in the US. Police check the papers and from all I have seen,
security is a lot better here than in the US. That does not mean
you can act foolish and do something stupid that is only asking for
trouble. But you never can tell when you will be in the wrong place
at the wrong time, just like in the US as well as in any country.
You can stay home inside your locked home and never go anywhere is just
what terrorists want you to do. Of course I could go to the Middle
East and teach English and make a few hundred thousand dollars per lesson,
but I would never be able to go anywhere, just like living in a prison.
Just be careful and always aware of things. I have heard that because
of the terrorists acts by Chechen terrorists and their allays, Russia is
fixing to make getting Russian visas even harder. So these things
and terrorist acts and the results will be something you will have to take
into consideration if you want to come to Russia to work, just as you would
with any other country an American might wish to go to. Even though
the world is an interesting place, it can also be a very dangerous place,
especially if you act carelessly. Moscow in my opinion is not as
dangerous as the average large city in the US. You will find animals
in every country that has no respect for human life, that is a sad fact
of life. Just be careful and watch yourself. If you are teaching,
then do not accept private clients unless you know who they are.
Just be careful and watch yourself always, no matter where you live, even
in the US.
is Jon's first article for the magazine:
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