While some things were expected, missing the metro, it's efficiency, the ease of transportation as well as extremely affordable cost, there are some things I didn't expect to miss about Moscow. Number one being the weather. While I like winter, it often seemed to drag on and on, but now that fall and the leaves changing still hasn't even close to hit Ulsan, I'm starting to realize that I miss putting on layer upon layer and walking out into the brisk Moscow air, pollution or no.
Of course, I miss students. I miss the level of proficiency and how many of my teens had already adjusted to me and my teaching style. A new school, let alone a new culture and country would have been a bit difficult. While I really can't compare too much because I taught mainly teens and adults in Russia and in Korea I teach children and teens, if I dare make the comparison, Russians seem more adventuresome. More willing to make fools of themselves. Of course, there were occasional classes of shy students. Students who were scared to make mistakes, and perhaps it's the classroom set up or the different sense of humor or the different levels, but Koreans on the whole seem shier. They are not as willing to just pull me aside and ask a hundred questions about where I'm from or why I'm here. They just accept that I'm a foreigner, move on, and leave it at that.
While Koreans on the whole seem friendlier, I think Russians on the whole were more interested in getting to know me, establishing a friendship or comradery, while in Korea, because of the culture and the hierarchy, I assume, many students put a distance between teacher and student. I would like to break this down, but it seems as soon as I think I'm establishing a friendship, where I can rely on the student to back me up in class because we are "friendly" they turn. Peer pressure or shyness or culture or something takes over, and they revert back to refusing to speak English and refusing to work with other students. While Russians may not have liked it, they nearly always followed directions. They put an effort into the mingle activities I organized, were willing to make fools of themselves and so was I, but Koreans sometimes won't even give it a try, which in turn makes me more reserved at times. They are used to being allowed to "opt out" perhaps ... whatever the case, it makes things frustrating because as soon as one student "opts out" the rest of the group feels uncomfortable.
I need to just have a talk with them. When speaking a new language, you are going to feel like a fool at times ...