On Friday, October 7th I visited the Moscow Museums of Oriental Art. You can call and make reservations to have private ceremonies with your very own tea Shaman. Okay, he wasn't really called a tea Shaman, but he took me on a spiritual tea journey I will never forget. For 90 minutes, our tea guide introduced our small group of 4 to the wonders of Chinese tea ceremony. While we sipped cup after cup of delicious teas, he explained the history and characteristics of each blend we sampled. I learned how to really smell tea, and the beauty that exists in the art of tea ceremony. It was interesting for me to compare Chinese and Japanese tea ceremony. The most striking difference was that we didn't apologize to our neighbors for receiving or drinking tea before each other. Japanese ceremonies love to add honorifics and apologies to anything formal.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. I recommend taking a walk around the museum afterwards if you haven't yet been. There are lots of interesting exhibits and artifacts from different areas of the east: Pakistan, India, China, Korea, Japan, and more.
Whether or not you like the coffee in Moscow depends... What kind of coffee do you like? Europeans mostly drink espresso and espresso drinks, which is mostly what you can find here. The standard menu in Moscow includes espresso, americano, and latte.
But what about drip coffee????? I know, right. There are a FEW coffee bars and specialty shops that offer drip, hario, french press, aeropress, or some combination of the former brew methods for all you coffee snobs.
As it turns out, almost all of those shops turned out for the Moscow coffee festival this Sunday at FLACON.
Some of the main names there were:
WEST 4 - (personally, my favorite)
KOF. - pretty delicious pour over, I bought
some beans from them as well
PRAVDA Coffee (Gave me a free bag of beans- WHAT?)
If you're on the hunt for good coffee, you might also try Red. Espresso bar near Barrikadnaya.
I like the pour over at Coffee Bean (near Chisty Prudy, Suharevskaya) and you can buy filters there, but I've heard mixed reviews from coffee lovers more snobbish than I.
If you have checked out some of these cafes, or have more pour over recommendations to include, write 'em in a comment!
It's not as simple as 1, 2, 3. First, you need a visa in order to be allowed to teach in Russia. Looking for visa support is how a lot of foreigners get tricked into signing up with the most accessible, and in often cases, least desirable companies. It's important to know that there are a variety of teaching positions available and you can get visa support through many of them. Allow me to shed light on a few...
If you want to work with very young learners and, well, babies, this is the route for you. Some of these set ups are pretty sweet for native speakers. They pair you with a Russian speaking TA, and you're basically just expected to be present and play with the children. In some nurseries, the hours are long and grueling (8-5, for instance), because there's a rule about Russian nurseries needing to be open a certain number of hours per day. You can often negotiate your salary in euros or dollars (an enormous plus!), but again you're contracted to the company's hours and schedule. Pro: Good for those who like consistent working hours in the same place. Con: Often long work days, conditions realllly depend on the nursery in question. Tip: Talk to someone who currently or previously worked for the nursery in question
2) After-school kids' learning centers-
Don't be fooled by the name. There are often classes scheduled in the mornings and evenings. These centers usually charge lots and pay pennies. And because of the split work days, you can end up spending 11 or 12 hours at the facility. Unless you live really close, but what can you really accomplish during the middle off the day knowing you need to go back to work in a couple hours? Pro: If you're lucky, you won't have to travel too much. Con: Everything else. This is my least favorite kind of English teaching job in Moscow.
3) General language schools-
There are lots of sub categories under this umbrella. There are conversation clubs, adult learning classes, business classes in-house and travelling, individuals lessons, etc. These can also be the parent companies of kids' learning centers (like Language Link). I also include Big Ben, Speak Up, and English First into this category. You will probably teach group or individuals within company facilities. You will most likely be asked to sign an hourly contract per week, which means they can fill your schedule up to 35 hours or X amount of teaching hours per week.
4) Contracting companies-
These companies hire you out to Russian state schools. You often have to travel to a different school every day of the week, but you may only work 4 or 5 hours a day. The work hours are often in the afternoons. You will probably have big classes with as many students crammed into each class as they can get. Pros: Probably shorter working days, can't negotiate how many days per week Cons: Travel time, big classes with little oversight and no TAs
5) Nanny agencies-
Working as a nanny is unique because you are working with the same one or two children all day every day, Your hours are completely dependent on the schedules of the family and their needs. If they are very young children, you may work during the days until the parents come home. If the kids go to school, you may be expected to take care of them, play with them, and/or teach them in post-school hours. Some families provide housing within their own facilities. Others have nearby apartments for staff. It really depends case by case. Pros: Often pay quite well, and you should definitely negotiate in a foreign currency. Con: May be lonely and if the family decides to stop working with you, you're in a tight spot.
6) Tutoring companies-
This is a broad category and there may be some overlap with big companies like EF. For this category, I am solely referring to the ones that hire out tutors on a mostly individual basis. These companies usually hire fewer tutors and are not actively advertised, so they can be considered off the grid. There are high range ones and low range ones. They are often run by expats themselves. Pay is usually by the hour rather than a weekly or monthly rate. You can decide if this is a plus or minus for you. You will probably find yourself becoming a new expert in a number of school subjects/ English profiency exams, Pro: Flexible work conditions Con: Less regulars work hours, travel time to students' houses
7) International schools-
These are highly coveted positions! You probably need proper teaching credentials and teaching experience in your native country to be considered for one of these school. If you were hired without either of these, lucky you.
As I mentioned, pretty much all of these schools offer visa support. Plenty of companies within each category offer company housing or to help find you housing. If you want to make friends with your colleagues, go ahead. However, there are many reasons to not want to live with your colleagues or in an apartment under contract by your company. But you don't need my help to think of what those complications could be.
I hope that after reading these little blurbs, you may have a better idea of what options are out there and where you could see yourself fitting in, schedule and responsibility-wise.
I hope you didn't think that the fun ended at applying for your English teaching job :) You're going to be asked to supply a whole lot of useless documents.
HIV test results
Medical Book for teachers*
DNA sample (Jk, but who knows..)
I'm sure I'm forgetting something
*Don't know what this is? Wait for my next post...
The writer of Not Home Syndrome can be seen wandering around Moscow, searching for pour-over coffee