What I Learned During My Two Months Teaching English in Russia

Greenheart Traveler, Samuel Tew, at Red Square in Russia.

My recent opportunity to travel abroad to Russia and teach English as a part of the Greenheart Travel Homestay program was incredible, and it is hard to believe that it is already over. Perhaps time works differently in Russia, but it seemed to me that my two-month stay was more like two weeks.

Yet, the experience that I gained will have a long-term influence on my life. For me, living with a family abroad has shifted my perspective in a way that could not have been possible in a different situation. Living abroad exposed me to a new way of life, and this exposure allowed me to learn both about myself and others.

In the Kremlin at Izmailovo, Moscow

In the Kremlin at Izmailovo, Moscow

Much of what I learned can be found in my previous blog posts, so I want to use this post to reflect about the overall picture. I will not go into great detail, but rather give a sample of what I discovered.

Here’s what I experienced, and what you could possibly discover, while living abroad:

  • I learned the value of knowing a foreign language. It opens doors of communication that give insight into another people and culture like nothing else. I want to continue to improve my Russian as a result.
  • I learned that the most delicious breads, mayonnaise, and juices are found in Russia. At least the ones that I have tried thus far.
  • I learned that I know very little about Russian history. Before being exposed to Russian museums, I did not realize how brief the history of the United States is in comparison to the breadth of Russian history. I have gained a new desire to learn more about the mighty, rich history of the Russian people.
  • I learned that freedom does not have the same meaning for everyone.
WWII Remembrance Mural in Russia

WWII Remembrance Mural in Russia.

  • I learned that I do not like art museums, regardless of the country. I have nothing against art lovers, but even the inspiring brush strokes of Russian paintings have yet to inspire me. Perhaps I still have room for improvement.
  • I learned more about what I desire for my future family and how I want to raise my children. This insight came from living with another family, which exposed me to a home life different from my own upbringing.
  • I learned that I really like public transportation. Taking electric trains and the metro is much more enjoyable to me than sitting in traffic and paying for car expenses.
Ornate ceiling architecture inside Moscow's metro.

Inside the ornate metro of Moscow, Russia.

  • I learned that my love of nature is something that I have in common with most Russian people. Picking berries in the forest and cooking shashlik in the country have become some of my new favorite pastimes.
  • I learned that peace is much more important to normal, everyday people than establishing national might. For the most part, neither American nor Russian citizens desire any sort of conflict or enmity between our two nations.
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman Statue in Moscow, Russia.

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman Statue in Moscow, Russia.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to spend two months in Russia, and especially that I was able to live with a family I now consider close friends. When I chose this program for my summer, I did not know what to expect. I was just following a good feeling.

Now, reflecting on my experience, I am glad that I followed this feeling. I cannot imagine a more enjoyable or worthwhile way to have spent this past summer.

Moscow State University, Russia.

Moscow State University, Russia.

About the Author: Samuel Tew

I am a student at Florida State University studying International Affairs. I am a vocal musician and hiking enthusiast. I lived in Russia previously as a volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I am looking forward to learning more now as I live with a Russian family.

 

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