Since I seem to have a lot of new readers who probably haven’t felt like reading every post since this one, I’m writing this to bring everyone up to speed and to have something fresh for the “Why Am I In Russia?” link under my photo.

I’ve been living in St. Petersburg since November 2004. This is my second stint here. I spent three months here in the summer of 2002. Back then, I had decided that after studying Russian off and on since the age of 13, it was time I saw Russia for myself. I quit my job in Washington, DC, flew here, took Russian for Foreigners at St. Petersburg State University, and lived in a student dormitory on the Gulf of Finland. It was an interesting, if not always enjoyable, experience that changed my perception of the world in innumerable ways. After exhausting my savings, I went back to Washington. I knew I’d return to Russia at some point, but thought that I might live in Moscow the next time around for a different experience.

In the summer of 2003, I went on a Scandinavian cruise with my extended family which docked in St. Petersburg for two days. This brief visit reminded me how I’d really become rather attached to this romantic, dirty city.

One day in summer 2004, I got a call from my Aunt Kelly. Her employer was offering her a year-long expatriate assignment in St. Petersburg. She said she’d consider it if I could come along with her. Of course I said yes. And so, once again, I packed up my life, quit my job, and came to St. Petersburg.

Since February I’ve been teaching English lessons and working at a British Kindergarten. The “kindergarten” is actually what Americans would call pre-school. I teach the youngest group, the two- and three-year-olds. The kids are mostly Russian, with affluent parents who want their kids to learn English from an early age. My group has 20 kids and I have three co-teachers. We speak to the kids in English as much as possible, and they understand quite well, though most of them don’t do much speaking.

I really like teaching, to my surprise. After years of working nonprofit office jobs, staring at a computer all day, it’s a great change of pace. Teaching runs in my family, so maybe it was inevitable.

Anyway, Aunt Kelly’s one-year assignment is likely to last a bit longer than that, and I’ve agreed to stay on at the kindergarten through June 2006, at which point I can decide about the following academic year. So, my time here is pretty much open-ended, which makes me happy. Russia certainly has its problems, but for now at least, I really like living here.

So that’s what I’m doing in Russia.

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