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It was six years ago that I first made my acquaintance with Russia, and I still have a vivid picture in my head of that difficult day when I was suddenly and dramatically transferred from the middle-class niceties of Leicester to an eighth-floor flat in one of St. Petersburg's gigantic and rather ugly housing estates. However, I've barely looked back since and am glad of that day as it has changed my life in a lot of ways. Russia is one of the top destinations for EFL teachers and there are many opportunities for work here. When people think of Russia, they automatically think of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the majority of the work is in these cities. It is worth noting, however, that there is also plenty of work across Siberia, where ex-pats and western influence are not as evident as in the bigger centres, and also in the south, where the climate is very favourable (almost as good as Greece). A teaching qualification was not necessary a few years ago in Russia, but as schools develop they are becoming mandatory. Wages vary, but almost always provide a comfortable local standard of living. In most cases schools provide accommodation in a Russian flat. These are generally clean, but not particularly comfortable by western standards. If you are after luxury, then Russia is best avoided.
As with much EFL teaching, the majority of work in schools is either early morning or in the evening, with little in between. Business English is becoming more and more popular, and wages are generally better for those working exclusively in-company. There is also a great demand for private lessons with native English speakers, the most lucrative way to make a living here.
It is perfectly possible to live happily and safely in Russia, something which seems to come as something of a shock to many who think that it is a country overrun with Mafia, corruption and hatred of the West (Russian people are, on the whole, very friendly towards foreigners). Perhaps the most difficult adaptation to make is coping with the weather - winters are harsh, and temperatures drop as low as minus thirty in the west and minus fifty across Siberia. Bring plenty of warm clothes if you'll be here between November and March! The language barrier can also present problems for non-Russian speakers to combat this, most schools offer inexpensive Russian lessons.
Entertainment and culture is not in short supply, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg which both have plenty to offer in terms of cinema, theatre, museums, religion, sport, history etc. St. Petersburg in particular is a beautiful city; walking along its canals and river embankments is a stunning experience. I cannot say enough good about life in Russia once you've got used to the little inconveniences (and the weather), you surprise yourself with how enjoyable and rewarding life is and how inaccurate the western stereotypes are.
I have spent a total of two and a half years teaching in Togliatti and Samara and can fully attest to the the comments by Saul Pope that teaching in Russia is a very rewarding experience. I found the people very friendly and am still in contact with a number of friends I made there. It is true that the accommodation is not always as good as one may hope for. It was, however, adequate and since it and all utilities were provided free of charge I don't think that one can complain too much. My wife and I were able to live fairly well on a single wage. The culture is amazing and everywhere. There are some challenges to life. It does get cold in winter, so do rug up! The bureaucracy and regulations can be annoying, e.g. postal rates doubling overnight and not even the local post office staff seem to be aware of it until you start getting the mail back as underpaid! Mind you this doesn't happen everyday. Russia is the only place I ever feel homesick for.
We suggest one of these courses for this country: