Scott and I finally signed up for Russian lessons today. There is a woman who arranges private lessons with people who are interested and comes to the university on a predetermined schedule. Our class meets late Sunday morning and Thursday evening. We'll have to study and do some homework in between sessions.
This is probably a necessary expenditure of time at this point. Very little English is spoken here outside the university. We need help completing all but the very simplest transactions around here. Even trying to arrange fun activities is difficult.
But…we are not sure where we are going to find the time.
We had been optimistic about having more time for research here. Really, though, we are finding that bureaucracy takes up most of the extra time we have. Last week, none of my students could access the websites that accompany their textbooks. This led to me testing the websites out in different locations to see if the problem was with the websites or the university (it was the university), contacting IT to see what the problem was and when it might be fixed (they did ultimately fix it, but they were quite vague on the schedule), and not being able to complete my lesson plans in my office because I needed to be able to reference said websites.
Also last week, the powers that be decided to stop providing free, but unreliable internet service in our apartments. That would have been fine, except that they shut off their service before the paid service guys could come around and set everyone up. This led to our not being able to work at home for several days, a lengthy email exchange between Scott and the manager of our building, and me having to rush home after teaching, only to sit around for an hour and a half, unable to work, waiting for the internet guy to arrive.
I would also be remiss to not mention the latest trip to customs. I wrote here about our last trip there, which was lengthy and tiring, but at least resulted in the acquisition of more of our belongings. Scott went again on Friday with a university employee. They spent a couple of hours there, only to be told in the end that the computer system was down there, and that they'd have to come back again.
So, at this point, I don't know what to think. Stay tuned--will we learn any Russian, or will our attempts be subsumed in teaching/meetings/customs visits/internet woes?