Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 7, 2012

As it has become a rule by now, I ran out of money in my Internet account and had no connection this morning. It was just as well as I needed to be at the Russian Slavonic University School of Economics at 10:00 to observe two classes. I got off the marshrutka a block earlier than necessary and so Olga and Galina had to come and rescue me. They gave me a tour of this building, but it wasn’t necessary since it was the same run-down sort of structure I’ve come to expect from all universities here.

They did treat me to coffee and biscuits in their small department’s office and then I left with Galina to observe her class. I failed to ask her for a copy of her lesson plan ahead of time and she just launched her lesson by writing five words on the board with no definition or any other context. There were only eight students here and it became obvious that they usually sat with their best friend as the gossiping and laughing went on throughout the entire class. I didn’t realize the class would be 80 minutes instead of the usual 50.

Galina kept saying “tak” after every comment and had no idea what it meant in Russian. The students were asked to translate sentences from Russian into English and vice versa for no apparent reason. The subject was films, and more specifically, Hollywood-made films, but I had no idea if this was a new topic or the continuation of a unit. At the end of the lesson, I told Galina that the lesson should have been conducted entirely in English and her response was that that was the way lessons were taught at this university because students would be required to translate during their exams. I hated to sound so negative, but I had seen no signs of communicative teaching here at all.

Olga’s class had ten students but I missed the beginning of the lesson because I had been giving Galina feedback and had to leave early as Willoughby was waiting for me at Lingua to finish the work needed on the newsletter. I apologize to the class and Olga and promised to come back another time so I could stay for all 80 minutes although I had already seen the same emphasis on translation during the short time I had been there.

I got on the right marshrutka and it deposited me in front of Lingua. Willoughby hadn’t had lunch, so I invited her to go with me to the Halal Kitchen place and she ordered an omelet which came with an ample side order of vegetables. I had order my usual fried lagman and a fresh salad that never arrived, so she shared her salad with me. The tea was very hot and strong, so we drank our share. She presented me with a corkscrew she had found at a bazaar and hoped wouldn’t break before I opened at least one bottle of wine.

Back at Lingua, I showed Willoughby what I had been able to do the night before and convinced her we should be able to knock it off in just about two hours. Despite a few setbacks with the photos, and MS Word freezing on us too, we were done by four and then proceeded to import the list of contacts from the website to the new Gmail account and sent that baby to Elvira and Gulnara for approval. I gave Willoughby a hug and felt immensely relieved not to have that task pending anymore. Gulnara replied congratulating us and giving us the green light to send it to everyone else.

Willoughby needed to go to the Beta Stores to buy some kitchenware and I needed to exchange some money, so we rode together to that destination. She had mentioned that she liked using her debit card at this location and I tried to use mine for the first time, but after going through the entire transaction, I was told my card was not valid. I’ll have to write to my sister to contact the bank as I’ll be running out of cash pretty soon.

I bought a few things for myself, said goodbye to Willoughby and walked home. I tried the corkscrew when I got home, and even though the cork broke, I was able to enjoy a glass of Georgian wine before heading to bed. It had been another exhausting day. 

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