Victor Olaya Ferrero
This is a little essay about the time I spent in Izhevsk hoping that it will be useful for all those who need a bit more of information before going there.
I decided to travel to Izhevsk because I had always liked Russia and its culture. Also, I had started learning some russian and wanted to improve it, so i thought it was a great idea to go to Izhevsk and work there as a volunteer. At first i didn?t feel sure about it, mainly because from the outside russia seems to be a rather dangerous country (definitely, it is not more dangerous than any european country I know, and living in a city such as Izhevsk is a hundred times safer than here in Madrid...), and also because it was my first experience teaching english, which is not my mother language... But, i decided to go there and now I?m glad i did it, and I hope i can do it next year and maybe stay a bit longer.
I must admit that i spoke in english most of the time, and rather seldom used my (rather poor) russian, so it did not improve a lot. However, passive learning is another good way of learning a language, and after being exposed to so much russian stuff, i discovered when I came back home that I was able to read russian quite better than before. Anyway, if your main aim is to improve your russian, you should better look for something different
I guess that it is quite useless to write here a detailed description of what I did there or what you can expect to find in Izhevsk if you decide to go, so I will just write a couple of recommendations, just the kind of thing that i missed when i was preparing my trip. If you need to know something else, read what other volunteers have written, or simply imagine it, imagine yourself living in a russian family, teaching people that is eager to learn english and also learn everything about yourself and your country, and will offer you the best they have. This is it.
Here are my recommendations:
First, have patience with the visa. Safe for some rare cases, you will get it, but it might take a loooong time. Consider this when planning your travel.
Before coming to Russia, I had travelled other countries, but most of them were more ?organized?. For that reason, I tried to arrange every single detail before leaving Spain, so as to avoid any kind of problem. Now i think it was not so necessary. Russian people is helpful with tourists, and you can ?improvise? a large part of your journey. Don?t be obsessed with arranging everything. From the outside Russia seems rather intimidating, but once you are there things are not so difficult, specially when you get out of Moscow.
Spend some time before going to Izhevsk, if you can. I just visitied Moscow and St Petersburg before heading to Izhevsk, but I wish I had seen some other cities. As a city, Izhevsk has nothing special, the good thing that you are going to find there are the people, so I reccomend you to visit other places and then go to Izhevsk and relax :-)
Adult classes can be quite boring at first, having to repeat dozens of times the same kind of phrases and answering the same questions: Where are your from? How is the weather in ? To avoid this, try to prepare some questions, don?t be afraid of asking them more ?personal? questions. This is not also good for you but also for them, since they can practice different vocabulary and talk about other subjects...
If you have any question, just send me an e-mail: email@example.com
Volunteered: September, 2004