I arrived in Bishkek almost a week ago and things have been great so far. To be honest, I haven’t been up to much because I arrived on Saturday morning and had to wait until Wednesday for classes to start because the long holiday for Eid Mubarak (ending of Ramadan). I’ve had two days of classes under my belt, but I want to hold off on sharing too much when I don’t really feel like I have a good feel of the place. There are a few things I’d like to share though…
London School is a real place.
From their website, they don’t seem like a real place. Based on their website alone, it appears they were operational at least up to approximately 2003 and might of gone out of business but never took the website down. I can assure you its a real school with nice staff and great teachers. There are approximately 20 foreign students studying there this summer. There is a large group of Americans coming with a State Dept grant to study Russian through Texas A&M University who are there for just the summer. The rest are all here for an odd array of reasons, but most seem to be here for the long term. Many students are planning to stay 6-9 months or already stayed that long with the summer short terms being an exception to the rule. I am one of the shorter if not the shortest stay.
Homestays are fun
I arrived early Saturday morning and a London School staff member met me at the airport and drove me to my home stay family. I slept most of the first morning and managed to get acquainted with my family in the afternoon. We live in a small apartment on the 9th floor of a 10 floor building just a few blocks from London School. There is a mom, dad, and four sons. The two eldest sons are 17 and 15 and both speak English pretty well, and the younger sons are 3 and 5. The 5 year old likes to laugh at me whenever I speak in Russian and the 3 year old just likes to stare at me in amazement. He comes into the doorway of my room and just stares, awestruck. With that many people in a small apartment, it gets pretty busy.
The first couple of days I honestly did nothing. I rested, hung around the house, and went on a walk to see some of the parks in the city but not much more than that. I did, however, eat a lot. I haven’t quite made up my mind on Kyrgyz food yet. Its good, but its also so bad. After a year in Thailand, I guess I am not used to all the milk and cheese so yeah.. its been pretty bad. Bread is the essential staple of their food and is eaten with every meal, and black tea, or chai as they call it, is drank with every meal. Much of the food is homemade, and by this I mean not made at our home, but made by locals nearby and then sold. The grandparents live a little outside the city and many people out there make their own jams and butter and sell them to the grandparents who then give it to us.
Russian is hard
I’ve had only two days of classes so far, but they have been extremely intense. I have one on one lessons for 6 hours a day, and when I finish for the day, I honestly have a headache. Russian has so many rules, and its a huge pain to memorize all of them, but I am working at it. Even after a couple days though, I have noticed a significant difference in my ability.
I have 3 hours of grammar in the mornings with my 1st teacher, and then 1 1/2 hours of reading and writing with another teacher, and lastly 1 1/2 hours of conversation with a teacher that knows no English. The last class is probably the most difficult, but I am really glad this Krygyz lady is my teacher. Learning with only Russian really forces me to focus.
I am so glad I spent the time learning to read and building my vocabulary before I came here. It probably save me at least 2-3 weeks. I am moving through the curriculum and material quite quickly which is good because I am understanding it, but difficult because there is a lot to be memorized.
That’s all for now. I gotta get to bed for class in the morning 😉