Q: How did you come across the vacancy with us?
A: I was looking for teaching work, both in my area and overseas
Q: Did you know about these kinds of opportunities before? Would you ever have thought of actively searching for a job like this?
A: No. I probably would have kept teaching in schools.
Q: What made you want to work with us and come to Russia after you saw the vacancy?
A: I wanted to speak to someone from the Agency to get more information. That is all I wanted to do at the time, just get information about the work involved.
Q: After finding out what was involved in doing this job did you consider doing the same thing in other countries?
A: No. It was just Moscow. After speaking to Bonne International it eased some of my anxiety about coming to Moscow. But I didn’t consider doing this in another country.
Q: After deciding that this is a good opportunity, what were your assumptions about Moscow? Was it something of a drawback or something you wanted to explore?
A: Initially I thought it would not be a nice place to live. I thought it was one of the drawbacks to earning the salary that was being offered. That was my initial thoughts until I researched Moscow itself and found out that it was different to what I thought it was. This was confirmed when I came to Moscow the first time.
Q: So you were wary of Moscow but the advantages of the salary outweighed this?
Q: What was your first impression of Moscow, the family and the Agency?
A: My first impression of Moscow was that it was a concrete jungle. But again, that was just the surface of Moscow. Now I have found out about all these lovely places in Moscow, my view is different. My impression of the family was very positive, I thought they were very nice people, down to earth. I didn’t know what to expect from Russian people as I had never met anyone from Russia before. They reminded me of people back home, in their mannerisms, what’s important to them which is family and the family unit. I picked this up straight away and thought this was very important. Their children are very important to them. I thought they were very friendly, very welcoming. We discussed different parts of the job, they listened to my opinion which I thought was very good. They were interested in my opinion on what was best for their child.
Q: So your professional opinion was valued?
Q: What was your first impression of the Agency?
A: Very very good. Right from day one. Right from when I spoke to a consultant from the office about the work. There’s a lot of paperwork to go through on my side, if you’ve never applied for visas before it can be daunting. I felt that I could pick up the phone any time of the day and there would be someone there to talk me through it. You can pick up the phone, you can ask them. Extremely professional. It makes you feel very secure. This is very important if you’re far from home, that you feel that you have support from the Agency. It makes a big difference – it makes you want to stay.
Q: A few months into the job – what are your views of Moscow, the family and the Agency? Have your opinion of good or bad things changed the other way?
A: To be honest it has taken me about 4 weeks to initially settle. It’s a big culture shock – not a bad one, but it’s very different. If you go to Europe it takes you a couple of days to settle in. In Moscow it’s different. You have to be a lot more organized and plan ahead. You tend to spend a lot more time indoors as it’s very cold during the winter – especially in the middle of winter when I first arrived – it gets dark early, there’s not that many people outside, and you have to be ready for this. That’s something I’m still working on now.
Q: So if you know you are coming to Moscow, maybe you can plan to do an online course or something similar?
A: Yes, that would be a good idea.
Q: Would you prefer to live with another Nanny or Governess in Moscow?
A: In a way yes, but I would still prefer to have my own privacy.
Q: What about the family? Has your impression of them changed?
A: They’ve been very helpful. Anything I needed they’ve made sure it was there. But if something has been planned in their family that may affect you and your plans, sometimes you are only told at the last minute. So you need to be prepared at all times and be ready for any event. You shouldn’t assume that you will get a 2 day notice about something. I might get a telephone call that we’re going ice skating in 10 minutes or going to a different country at the end of the week. I make sure I am always ready just in case.
Q: How would you describe Russian families – the way they are with their children, the way they are generally?
A: I think they’re quite similar to where I grew up. The family unit is very important to them. The big difference is planning. An English family will plan ahead and inform you of their plans. Russian people don’t tend to do that.
Q: Would you want to stay for another year?
A: I’m not really sure. As far as the job, the family and the child is concerned I would have no problem staying another year. It would just be whether or not I would want to be away from home for another year.
Q: You are a teacher and you have always taught in schools. Why did you decide to work as a Governess?
A: Number 1 – there is very little teaching work where I live. Number 2 – when the Agency said that I would be required to teach English to this child I understood that I would still be teaching. I would still be doing my lesson plans, I would still be doing all the things I would be doing if I was in school. Whether you’re teaching 30 children or 1 child, it is the same process. I am still teaching English, Maths and all the subjects in the curriculum. I am still in ‘teacher mode’.
Q: Tell me some good and bad things about going from teaching work to Governess work.
A: Well obviously going from teaching – the salary is very good, it’s much higher. You get to travel, experience another country. The other good thing is the actual package – not having to pay rent, not having to pay your utility bills, not having that worry. Also in a way you are your own boss – whereas you’re not when you’re working in a school. You’re very much told what to do, what timeframe you have to work by. Here you work at your own pace, you can teach a child at their pace rather than the school’s pace where they tell you you have to be a certain stage by a certain date, which is not right for children. Bad things – I suppose being away from home and sometimes feeling lonely. Also feeling that you have to have specific results for this child.
Q: Because the family set you goals to achieve or because of things you’re assuming the parents want?
A: I’m assuming that they have paid all this money so that their child is going to speak English and experience the English culture. But that is something that is very difficult to teach a child who is only just learning their own language and culture. So that can be quite challenging.
Q: You came for an interview trip to Moscow for a few days before you signed anything with the family. Did that trip help or was it an unnecessary part of the process?
A: Definately not an unnecessary part. I think if I had not visited, if the interview trip was not available to me – I would not have come to work here.
Q: So it was important to come and meet everyone?
A: It was extremely important because of the fact that you have preconceived ideas about Moscow, the position, what is expected of you. If I had not had that trip I would not have signed a contract. There was too many negatives in my mind, not true negatives, but in my mind I was worried that ‘what if I get there, I’ve signed this contract, what if I don’t like Moscow, how do I get out of this?’. I wouldn’t have signed the contact otherwise. And therefore I would have just tried to find something at home. So without the interview trip, no, I wouldn’t have taken the job.
Q: When you came for the interview trip, were there any surpises that you weren’t expecting – good or bad.
A: I think the one thing that I found a little bit daunting was things like being driven by the driver. I didn’t know how to handle that situation. I was trying to help with unloading the car with my bags from the supermarket, I felt rude offering not to help, but then felt silly when I did offer to help as the driver was worried about me getting my coat dirty from the car. You just have to be open to new things if you haven’t done this before – and with things like going into the family’s home and how to act with them.
Q: Did any problems come up while you were working – with the child, the family, the accommodation?
A: The only issue is I never really knew what the family wanted and expected during the day to do with the child’s health and wellbeing. I found out recently that Russian families are very concerned with children eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, getting lots of fresh air and exercise outside, I wasn’t aware of that before. I think my worries would have been less if I knew what the child likes and doesn’t like to eat, how strict I can be – what the family and the child is used to.
Q: How did you find working with a child who didn’t speak English?
A: No problem at all. I think if you make an issue of it, then it will be an issue. You just talk and communication comes naturally.
Q: How did you find spending the majority of the day with just one child?
A: Initially it was quite daunting. I thought ‘what am I going to do with this child the whole day?’. You just have to plan your day. Sometimes we’re together the whole day and the doorbell suddenly rings and it’s time to stop. You never get to the point where you don’t know what to do. I am working on her independence and making sure she does things herself like getting her own pencil and putting things in the bin herself whereas she is used to people doing things for her. Now she takes responsibility.
Q: What do you do with the child the whole day? Is it like being in school?
A: Yes it is. Well first of all she has English lessons – what day is it today, we work on the alphabet – now we’re going through the Jolly Phonics – we do maths, cooking, arts and crafts. Then we have lunch, then continue our activity from the morning or start a new one, sometimes I give her a little break and I let her play with some of her toys as free play. We go for a walk for about an hour, depending on how she feels. Then all of a sudden the day is over!
Q:What did you notice more, what was more of an issue – the fact that she didn’t speak English or discipline?
A: Discipline. Most definitely. Speaking English is not an issue. Within 4-5 weeks she can communicate and tell me what she wants.
Q: How did you friends and family react to your move?
A: Initially worried that it was so far away and what was the accommodation going to be like. But now they know that the Agency is very supportive and I know that if I have any worries I can go to them. They think it’s great. One of my friends is telling everyone that I am in Moscow – she thinks it’s really cool!