However, things are slowly getting better. I've slowly been making friends the closest being my friend, Renat, who has showed my different parts of the city and has a interesting fact or story to go along with every thing. He's also been pushing me to learn Russian, which I've struggled to do. Some of my classes have been getting better. I have a group of intermediate adults and they are awesome. It helps that they can speak English better, but they are just so willing to participate in the activities and discussions. One of my problems is that I am so hard on myself so if things go wrong I take it personally when I teach. I feel like there is a lot of pressure on me to have awesome lessons because I am a certified teacher, but I'm slowly shedding that belief because everyone needs practice doing something and I haven't really had my own classes before.
Sometimes when I walk around I feel like people know that I'm not Russian or that I'm not from here. Maybe it's the way I look but I feel like things happen to me, especially when public transportation is involved, that doesn't happen to other people. Here are four stories from the Russian bus system:
- Last Monday I got off the bus and was waiting to cross the street. This young guy was standing next to me and started talking to me. I told him, in Russian, that I didn't speak Russian. He still tried to talk to me in Russian and broken English and continued to walk with me. He said something about "sexy." He also asked if I wanted to hold his hand like the couple in front of us and if I had kids or a boyfriend. He was nice and it makes from an interesting story I guess.
- A day later I was on the bus and some guy starts talking to me. I think he had some kind of disability, like tourettes or something else. I told him, again in Russian, that I didn't speak Russian, so he starts talking in English, but just kind of says the same phrases over and over after he says something like "Have a good day" or "yeah okay."
- On Wednesday I was at a new bus stop waiting for a bus. I was standing there a long time and these two old guys, I think they might have been homeless, started talking to me. I told them I didn't speak Russian, but they didn't care. They just kept talking to me. I was trying to understand, but I couldn't. Eventually, a girl leans over and asks in English if I need help. I told her no, I was just waiting for a bus but that the guys were talking to me and I didn't understand them. She starts translating some of the stuff and they said I was very beautiful. Then the one guy was telling me he fought in Afghanistan. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say to that. I eventually just walked home because the girl told me it wasn't that far.
- On Friday I was in the shuttle bus and the bus driver stops at a bus stop. He starts talking and a girl by me answers and he keeps talking and I look over and realize he is talking to me. I told him I didn't speak Russian and the girl laughed so I thought they were going to play some kind of joke on me. So he asks what language I speak. He then motions for me to come out and get in the front seat next to him saying "Please." I was confused, but I just did what he said. I should probably be more assertive and say "no" to men. Haha. He ends up asking me questions through Google translate about me and why I'm there. (He's from Uzbekistan). He was actually a really nice guy.
I think the moral of all these stories is that I need to learn Russian.
On Saturday my new roommate, Patrick, and I met up to talk about the new living situation. He took me to a park where the Salavat Yulaev Monument is. This is probably one of the most famous spots in the city, and you can even see the monument from the high way. There were awesome views of the city and river as well. I must say, Russia is beautiful in fall.