A market for educational necessities.. And that doesn’t mean books.

A lack in writing results from a change in mentality.
I suppose things have just changed around here. It seems that things that weren’t typical have now become typical, or that perhaps I have simply learned to just deal with certain things. I’m tired; I’m worn out. Regardless of a churning desire to leave immediately, I already clearly understand that upon leaving I will greatly miss this place – the horribly wonderful paradox that is Russia, and by Russia I mean non-Piter, non-Moscow Russia, because after living here I’ve realized how big the difference is and how wide the distance from reality.

While things are winding up, the work is still piling up. I took up an editing gig for the director of the Department of Foreign Languages. I am editing a 70 page text on the Kremlins of Russia: Pskov, Uglich, and Astrakhan. Needless to say, whoever did the Russian to English translation was really lazy, and I’m only on page four.

Things have almost ended completely at the university, even though according to some (mainly colleagues), we still have lots of time left. However the halls are bare, over twenty students have already taken their exams and many have left for home or America on work-study. I’ve been holding a lot more casual lessons. I’ve shown most of my students Jazz Chants and played Apples to Apples – a huge hit.

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Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of personal issues with the university system. This is a system based on personal likes, dislikes, and desires, where regardless of how much students do or do not work, their fate is determined by higher authorities. I’m quite sick of teachers sitting in the faculty room, gossiping about students, whom I know well and whom I know have a lot of potentional but are brought down by this stifling system and its teachers, who are not here to encourage learning, but rather to force what they think is best for the student.

Its quite common for students to be able to buy their diplomas, exams, papers, pay off teachers for grades, etc. There is one student in the dorm who joked that he can’t write his own diploma because he’s too busy writing others’. There was some market today at our university and we joked about the ability to buy there all the exams, teachers, etc that you may need at the end of your year. But that’s the reality of Russia and there have been countless examples of teachers not liking students and giving them bad grades just to get money from them.

Unfortunately, my department is not such. I say unfortunately because I’ve recently learned the necessity to be able to buy these things. Sometimes you just can’t control who likes you. One of my favorite students had this problem and now he doesn’t know if he’ll return back to the university, or even Russia. He planned to go to America for work and travel this summer. He had his flight, visa, everything. He asked to take his exams early and one of my colleagues wouldn’t let him. Why? Because she doesn’t like him. This happened literally three days before he was supposed to leave. She controlled everything; if she didn’t allow him, then no one else would. And she didn’t. So what was he to do? He couldn’t bribe her, and bribing anyone else would do no good. If he didn’t take his exams then upon returning next year he would have to join the army or enroll in another department. Conceptually, I got so mad about this situation. He’s one of my mot talented students. Not that he gets good grades necessarily, he has average grades, but he has the actual passion for English and American culture and he has the ability to think, which so many students lack here. Perhaps it’s for the better that this happened… He can just stay in America; if only it was that easy..

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