Friday, March 31, 2017

Eating My Weight in Food and Too Many Bathroom Pictures

Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia
If you've been following my blog since last year, you'll remember this post about the international seminar. It was one of my favorite moments from last year because I love conferences. Tuesday and Wednesday were this year's seminar. Unlike last year, this one was two days long which meant lots of food was involved. I was kind of confused on how it would work this year because my director told us it was two days, but that we would only present once.

The first day took place at the pedagogical university. I arrived pretty early, so, per usual, I told the security guards I didn't speak English and they let me in anyways. I love how people just don't want to deal with me because I don't speak Russian. I wasn't exactly sure where to go so I just headed to the auditorium we were in last year. When I got there I tried asking if anyone spoke English to make sure I was in the right place, but no one did. Luckily, I saw my schools logo and took a seat. Now, before you say, "Why didn't you just ask them in Russian?" I'll tell you that when I'm nervous all my Russian knowledge goes out the window, so I ask questions in English.

Finally, my director showed up and introduced me to Vera, one of the presenters from Moscow. We chatted a bit until the presentations started. We noted how everyone in the audience looked very young, which was surprising to me because last year everyone looked like they were in their 30s and older. Later, we found out that the seminar on Tuesday was for university students. Vera and Jeremy, my colleague at ABIC, were the first to present, and their presentations were amazing. The other two spoke in Russian, but from what everyone told me they weren't that interesting. When the first four presentations were finished we, the presenters, went to have some tea before lunch.
For lunch my director took us all to Gastro Gallery. I had been there once before but only to drink beer. I wasn't sure what to expect because I heard their steak was amazing but the rest of their food wasn't that good. Like every meal in Russia we started out with a salad. After the salad we ate soup and after the soup we had our main dish of steak and potatoes. All the while there were vegetables and bread on the table as well. We finished with tea and some kind of dessert (pictured above). I have to tell you, I am not a meat eater, but this steak was AMAZING. I don't know what they did to it but it was so gosh-darned good. The potatoes were great as well. I'm salivating just writing about it.

Right before we left I went into the bathroom and took way too many photos. It was beautiful! Did you ever think someone would say that about a bathroom?! See for yourself though. I couldn't help it.
After lunch I had to go to work for two classes. I thought we were only supposed to take Wednesday off so I told my partner teacher she didn't need to cover for me. Only a few days earlier did I learn that most of the festivities would take place on Tuesday, so I missed the tour of Ufa and the beginning of dinner. At first I wasn't that upset about missing the tour because it wasn't that great last year, but I heard it was better this year so I regretted working. Plus, our group of presenters this year was a lot more fun and we all seemed to get along very well so I wish I had spent more time with them.

I arrived to dinner an hour late, around 7 pm, but I didn't miss much. Again, there was so much food and three courses of salad, soup, and a main dish. I ate so much kiwi and caviar that I thought I was going to explode. I'm also someone who usually eats everything if it's sitting in front of me but I ate so much throughout the day that I couldn't even finish all my potatoes.
Like last year, the evening was periodically interrupted, in a good way, by different performers from the school. At one point everyone got up and started dancing with the three girls. I stayed back because I had on 6 inch heels (they were my only waterproof shoes) and after wearing them all day my feet were killing me. We had tea and we gave toasts to the seminar and to each other. Sometime after 9 we all decided it was getting late and we should go home because we had to be up in the morning.
Wednesday was the seminar for the teachers in the republic. Last year it was at the pedagogical university, but this year it was at Gymnasium #3. Wow, this school was amazing! It reminded me of some kind of elite prep school. I tried to find more pictures online because I wish you could see it for yourself, but I was unsuccessful. There were chandeliers everywhere and a large staircase that made you feel like you were on the Titanic. It was absolutely stunning. The attendees were even greeted by violinists!
The event started out with preliminary presentations, some being more interesting than others. After we went to the cafeteria for a coffee break. After the coffee break we went back to the auditorium for more presentations and then started our own master classes. Elizabeth and I were paired up together, and we did our presentation on using film in the classroom. Ours focused on how you can use film to assess speaking, writing, and grammar. Last year we only had to present once so it gave us an opportunity to go to all the other presentations. Unfortunately, this year, we had to present five times. We did split the last two so we could each visit another presentation. I really enjoy professional developments because I like to learn and get new ideas. If university education was free in the USA I don't think I'd ever stop being a student.
The seminar ended with a performance by students and a passing out of certificates to the attendees. The two days were long, but they were so much fun and we were working with a great group of people. It's kind of sad that I won't be here next year for it, but I told my director I wouldn't be mad if he paid for me to attend.
The last two photos are from Vera. The first one was just a funny one of my director and his time cards for the presenters. The day before the some of the presenters went over the allotted time, so I think he learned his lesson. Also, we had so much packed in one day that we needed to stay on a schedule so we could end on time since Vera and Kore were flying back to Moscow right after. The last picture I included to give you an idea of the amount of people attending. I think there were about 130 people in all which is great and I know they learned a lot.


  1. Looks like such a memorable time and sooo much good food! Why won't you be around for it next year?
    I have the same experience with people not wanting to deal with me when they find out I don't speak Czech - hah! Well, at least it's made things easier ;)

    1. I plan on moving back to the USA or another part of Russia. Still trying to figure that out.

      I'm interested now... do a lot of people speak English there? Where I live very few people speak English, especially in restaurants and markets. I guess I never really thought about the Czech Republic because I figured they had a lot of foreign tourism.

  2. Replies
    1. It was... and free food is always a good time!

  3. Great pictures! I love the beautiful traditional costumes! Also, that bathroom is cute as heck!

    1. Thank you! And yes, they were beautiful costumes!


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