I am still kicking myself for not returning to this blog in January, for the latter half of my time in Piter. Really, the last few months were sort of a blur and my friends and I feel into a routine expat life. I suppose it was, at the same time, a bit more boring and a bit more fun.
However, I am now back for the next leg of my journey. In April I received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant to Russia. I was definitely astounded to have received this opportunity and since April its been quite the process both mentally and physically.
In May, I found out I will be teaching in Astrakhan, Russia at Astrakhan State University. My love for this location is steadily growing, and increasing my excitement to visit. Astrakhan is located in the southern part of Russia, on the bank of the Volga River, near where it meets the Caspian Sea. Situated between Kazakhstan and the Caucasus, its locations is quite interesting. I’m very excited to do some (safe!) traveling to these areas and really get to know the people. Furthermore, being so close to Kazakhstan is great, as I will dive into Central Asia next year at Georgetown. Really, I must thank Fulbright for placing me here, as I think it will most beneficial to my studies and fits my general interests.
In July I attended orientation in Washington D.C. We were put up in this great hotel near Chinatown, and spent most of our time there. The ETA’s arrived on Monday, and were there three days earlier than the Students and Scholars. For three days we were essentially taught how to teach English by this really energetic woman. In reflection the program was decently interesting and stimulating, a lot of which was facilitated by participation. However, we also learned that we really shouldn’t prepare to much, in terms of school work, and rather prepare for random changes and uncertainties prevalent in the Russian educational system. While this was a bit nerve-racking, we were also quite relieved that no real planning was necessary.
Spending this summer in Bloomington, IN also really helped. Not only did I really enjoy the company of others also studying languages, but it helped me stay active in Russian. Furthermore, I was able to write a paper and create a presentation on Astrakhan, which made me even more excited to live there! Astrakhan is famous for its black caviar and watermelons.
My time in the states is running out — I have received my visa and depart on the 24th. I’ll spend two days in St. Petersburg seeing some great friends before heading to Astrakhan. I’m extremely lucky, as Dr. Chamberlain’s wife (he’s head of the Honors College at GVSU) is actually from Astrakhan and has family there. Even better – she’s currently in Astrakhan with her daughter and will be meeting me at the airport. It will be great to see a friendly face!