Saturday, February 5, 2011

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

Even though its Saturday, Colleen, Stuart and I all worked today. We collectively gathered in our dim little kitchen after wrapping up our lessons at 6pm, in order to complain about and laugh at our students, the get the idea. Now it's Saturday evening and the true weekend is finally here - no more English lessons until 12:30pm Monday! Yay! My brain is about to explode. (On a side note, I wonder what I'm going to be like when I return to Canada in the summer. I've noticed that I speak slowly, grading my language, all the time now and that I do A LOT of "hand talking." You know - "Today I had a big breakfast," I'll say, enunciating each and every word while gesturing wildly with my hands to illustrate BIG, and then miming an egg-frying action. Friends and family whose first language is English, please be patient with me while I adapt to talking like a regular person once more!)

Anyways, I've been meaning to write a post about my birthday, which was last Saturday, and some of the things that I got up to over that weekend. On Friday, I took the afternoon off work and went into Moscow, where I met a film crew from the CBC. They were filming a documentary about winter, with their thesis being that Canadians have turned into wimps when it comes to the cold! (Canadians out there: do you agree??) They came to Moscow to showcase the mighty, stoic Russians who fearlessly face down the harsh Russian winter, and I got to be a part of it! The crew filmed me walking through one of the many outdoor markets in Moscow, talking to some locals and buying produce. Then one of the producers, Josh, asked me some questions about my experience with winter here so far. I shared my story about how one time I asked my Russian friends what they do when it gets REALLY cold, and how they just shrugged and laughed, "Drink more vodka!" Like, duh you silly Canadian!

It was a really fun experience and I loved getting to meet up with some fellow Canadians. Look for my big movie debut next December which is when they said the documentary will be coming out! :)

On Saturday, my actual birthday, I woke up feeling old and kinda blah. 23. When did that happen?! I went for a swim because I figured my joints are probably getting too old for a run and I should stick to some low-impact cardio from now on... ;) I also got some lovely emails from friends and family that truly made my day - thank you!

That night, we had a joint birthday party/Burns Night with a bunch of our friends coming from Moscow. Burns Night is a Scottish excuse for a party (like they need one! After all, what's the difference between a Scottish wedding and a Scottish funeral? There's one less drunk at the funeral) where they celebrate the life of their national poet, Robbie Burns. Stu and Colleen brought back some tinned haggis and whisky and we prepared a feast for everyone!

The haggis, stuffed inside a chicken, wrapped in bacon.
Colleen made about 8 chicken breasts, then cut them up
into smaller pieces for everyone (about 16 people)

Stuart and I with the tinned haggis!

It was a great night, full of friends and food (what more could you want?). Then on Sunday, I topped off what was an awesome weekend with another KHL game. And we won again! I'm beginning to think I'm good luck :) It was a super game - a little slow at first but it culminated in a shoot-out that was very exciting!

At the arena: the first word on the left is unity, I'm not
sure about the second but think it's something to do about fighting,
and the last is victory.

I'm not sure if this link will work for everyone, but here's a video of us at the game during the national anthem (and just to clarify, I don't normally talk during the anthem, but Colleen and I were trying to figure out a word in the anthem!)

My birthday continued on Monday when I walked into my class of upper-intermediate adults and saw that they had baked a cake for me! They had also all chipped in to buy me a mobile (I've been resisting buying one for months, but I have to admit I've missed having one...even just having one for an alarm in the mornings beats my crappy little clock I was using!) and one of my students had knitted me some tapachki, or slippers. It was so sweet and thoughtful! I was blown away by everyone's kindness and reminded, once again, of just how warm and welcoming everyone has been to me. I am so lucky!

Anyways, that was my birthday weekend in Russia - one that I'll always remember! Since then, I've been pretty busy with work, and haven't really done anything super interesting. On Wednesday, I went to the Wasteland as per my usual lesson with Lebron. My walk from the highway to his mansion is usually pretty deserted, but occasionally I will see signs of life besides the odd half-eaten carcass of an animal. Sometimes I'll even see other children -gasp! (I have to walk past his school) But on that particular day, there was no one...and I soon discovered the reason.

"I have no school right now," Lebron informed me as I stepped inside, shaking the snow off my earmuffs.

"Oh, do you have a holiday?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Nope, my school do you say? Under quarantine!" he said brightly.

"Uhhh..." I started to back away from him, visions of swine flu dancing in my head. "Why is it under quarantine? Are YOU ok??"

"Oh yes, yes!" He reassured me. "It's just the grippe (flu), a common winter illness." Whew. I approached him with less trepidation. But it turns out almost ALL the schools in the Moscow region have been closed and put under indefinite quarantine right now. They're even selling pocket masks in the shops again, a throwback to the days of the heatwave in August. It's an interesting solution to the health problem that plagues schools every winter, I think. Schools are a breeding ground for illnesses, so I guess it makes sense to close the schools, but I wonder how long this is going to last and the kids are going to be out of school.

And another thing I'm wondering...are they going to close MY school??? Cuz a holiday of undetermined length would be pretty awesome for me too, just sayin'.


  1. Hey, Katie. My nationality is Russian and I live in Moscow. I visited the USA a couple of times. I stayed there for a fair amount of time, and I want to say that it was one of the best(if not the best) experienes of my life. That was back in 2005/2006. The US is not Canada of course, but they have much more in common with each other than with Russia(btw, I even saw Canada's soil from the US's lol). Anyway. I lived a traveler's life for a short period of time, the life you (expats) have now. I immersed into the Western lifestyle and that was truly awesome. I liked that time a lot, and now I want to bring back the feeling I was having back then. So the whole reason for writing this is I want this thing to happen: whenever you guys(expats) have some sort of event or meeting or whatever can I please come and hang around/spend some time:)? Believe me this will make my day( am I saying 'day', the word should be 'year'!). Im a guy just turned 25, not looking for relationship(I like Russian girls lol), very interesed in British, American, Canadian, Irish, Aussie, and so on companies, who just wants to have some nostalgia and fun. P.S. Maybe I used some slang to make my message fancier, maybe I said someting that doesn't make sense, if you dont like that please forgive me, and best wishes! P.P.S I had actually written this before I read this post, so I want to say "Happy Birthday!".

  2. good luck with them closing the school for anything short of all out nuclear war and even then, it'd be a toss up haha. Anyways, Happy Birthday, it sounds like it was fun.

    PS the word in the middle is 'struggle,' which, while kind of a weird word for an inspirational poster, is maybe appropriate for Atlant sometimes haha

  3. I just love that this post ended with "just sayin'"

  4. Thanks Tom for the translation!! hahaha yeah the past two games I've gone to there has definitely been some struggling for Atlant, but they've prevailed by the end :) and no kidding about the school not closing for ANYTHING. They made us teach by candlelight a few months ago.