It's true. I swear the Russians DO NOT believe in garbage cans, and it's really starting to drive me bonkers. There is ONE garbage can in my entire house! In public places you have to look for one for nearly 10 minutes before seeing one 100 yards away. It's ridiculous.
Other than that though...
Russia is still awesome :D This week was my first full week of teaching my primary and elementary kids. It started out really rough, but I think I'm getting the hang of things and my lessons are starting to go much smoother. It's just a matter of changing your mindset into that of a teacher and buckling under and just doing it! At this point, I'd like to tribute my mother: Mom- I find that especially in my Level 5 class, I just have to pretend to be you and things go much smoother. As weird as that sounds, I'll forever be grateful for the opportunity of having you as my teacher and for all the times I got to watch you teach. It is truly amazing to me that you do this everyday for 3/4ths of the year and are still sane! I'm loving this, but it has definitely made clear to me that teaching is not a career option for me. But thinking of how you handle situations in the classroom definitely helps me handle the kids in my classes. Thanks. :)
Anyway, my Level 5 kids are great. Today our class had 7, 10 year old boys. They are wild and crazy, but they love to speak English and as long as the activity is engaging, they are fairly well behaved. Mostly we struggle getting them to speak English the entire 2 and 1/2 hours, but things will get better. They are all great kids and I look forward to getting to know their personalities better throughout the semester.
My primary kids are adorable! I have a harder time getting them to speak as much English though, lots of times they just look at me confused, haha. But again, things are getting better and hopefully I can get them to understand me and a little more fun!
My host family is still amazing, my mom always interrogates me at the end of the day, making sure I'm eating enough. And she always packs me a snack to take to school each day. She is just adorable! As Yurislav learns more English, he also warms up to having me in the house more. Yesterday when I got home he came running up to me to show me a little card with his name written in Latin letters. This is a huge improvement from him just shyly smiling at me and then running out of the room :) Again, hopefully things get better there. My dad is so funny, he doesn't speak much English, but he's always nice to me and has a smile. He loves to say hello and goodbye, and to pull out his computer and show me pictures of the family's dacha (essentially their weekend getaway house) He showed me a picture of him there, mowing the lawn, and proudly announced to me: "Look! I do like American!" I nearly died laughing!
Last Saturday we went further into St. Petersburg to explore. We saw the Church on Spilled Blood and also the Hermitage. This Saturday we plan on going into the Hermitage and I am so excited! It's going to be amazing, and I can't wait. On Sunday we got to go to church. We searched for the building for nearly two hours, and just as we were about to give up, three of the volunteers called saying they had found it! How grateful I was that they did. Church has never been such an amazing experience for me. Three missionaries sat on the row behind our group and translated all of Sacrament meeting for us. On top of hearing all the wonderful testimonies, I especially loved how everyone there actually smiled at us. It was amazing to see these people, who are usually so quiet, stern, and private, open up to us and share smiles and handshakes with us all. It was such an incredible feeling that touched all our hearts and has kept me going all this week. I sincerely can't wait to go back this coming Sunday again.
We also started our Russian classes on Tuesday. Our teacher, Stass, is very... interesting. Perhaps more details later. Thankfully though, he speaks excellent English and is a fantastic Russian teacher. I've learned the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet and can now read and pronounce most of the signs I see on the street. Too bad I still don't know what any of it means! A lot of the words sound almost exactly like the English words, which is great. Hopefully I continue to learn more at a fairly quick pace. My host family loves it when I try to use my limited Russian, they laugh and smile and tell me "Haroshow" (sp?) which means good. Which is a great confidence boost to me, I'm lovin' it! I've also got my numbers 1-10 down (go me!) and each time I'm in the elevator by myself I practice the numbers as I pass each floor. Don't make fun, it works :)
So that's life from the motherland! Still on cloud nine :D