Alex Norris: Evaluation
Before coming to Krasnodar, I felt very nervous. I was worried about living alone in a foreign city, being so far away from home, and having to use my less-than-mediocre Russian skills to get by. All of these concerns however, turned out to be completely unfounded. From the moment I arrived in Krasnodar, everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome and happy. Everyone at Pleaides has been amazing and all the people I have met in Krasnodar have been equally kind.
Krasnodar is a really brilliant place to live. Although it is unmistakably Russian, in some ways it doesn't feel too different from home. There are restaurants and shops which can be found on any British high street all over the place and plenty of cinemas, museums, theatres and sports venues to keep anyone entertained for hours. And even as a vegetarian, I've found plenty of places to eat (so many pizza places here) and I've been surprised at the huge variety the city has to offer. I've never been bored in Krasnodar – I've always found something interesting to do, be it seeing Swan Lake at the ballet, visiting an art gallery or exploring the huge Galereya shopping centre.
Working at Pleiades has also been a great experience. Everyone at the office went out of their way to make me feel welcome and I never felt out of my depth or unvalued. The hours have been very reasonable (I have mostly worked in the afternoon or the evening). Pleiades provides good English textbooks but I also chose to make some worksheets myself and bring a few pieces from home to show my students. All of my students have been great, they've shown a real interest in English and have all made good progress.
Being a foreigner in Krasnodar is a little like being a minor celebrity. When people find out I'm English, they take a big interest in me and ask me lots of questions about our culture and life. On the flip side, living in a city where there aren't many native English speakers can sometimes feel isolating. However there are several English clubs which you can go to in order to meet other natives and Russians who speak great English. At one of these meetings, I met a guy who's a student at the university here, and a few weeks later, despite hardly knowing me at all, he invited me to take a trip with him and his friends into the Mezmai region not far from Krasnodar. It was an incredible journey and I met some amazing people, both Russian and American. I would definitely recommend trying to find friends at the university.
The two months I spent in Krasnodar have been unforgettable. I will never forget how welcome I was made to feel and all of the amazing people I have met and things I have seen. I am so grateful to Yulia for all her help and everyone at Pleiades for their support.
If you have any questions about living in Krasnodar or working at Pleiades, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Bowman: Evaluation
I really enjoyed teaching at Pleades as I had a wide range of students from the age of 3 to perhaps 53. Most of my students were really lovely and they often wanted to show me life in Krasnodar, which resulted in some trips to the mountains and seaside. I hadn't taught English before so I was thrown in at the deep end, but I really enjoyed getting to grips with teaching on an individual and group level. It was great to see the progress of students who were normally really keen to be there.
Most of my hours were after children finished school and the group lessons were after people finished work so I normally worked from 4/5pm until about 10pm. This left plenty of time to explore the city. Krasnodar is generally a nice city and much less European than Moscow and Petersburg, offering a more 'Russian experience'. Because it is small there isn't that much to do but it does mean that there aren't many foreigners so you will have a good chance to use your Russian. There are however plenty of parks, cinemas and theatres to fill in your time. It was lovely to spend time in the different parks once it got to the summer when it was such nice weather. Food and transport is cheap in Krasnodar.
The most positive aspect of working at Pleades is that they organise your accomodation for you so it saves a lot of worrying. I lived with a Russian lady and by the end of my 9 months I really felt like part of the family. She helped me improve my Russian and give me an insight into the reality of Russian life. She gave me the opportunity to learn how to cook Russian food, to go to her dacha and celebrate all of the Russian holidays with her family. The opportunity to have such immersion in the Russian language and Russian life really made the whole experience.