Those of you who know me, and the shoes I wear when pressed to wear shoes, know that these do not look like my feet!!! But they are. On my first day of class walking the 1/2 hour along the main street of town to meet with students, I grew self conscious about my bare toes, clad as they have been for about 20 years with a couple of toe rings. I realized that none of the professional women I had seen at the University or anywhere wore open toed shoes!! So I stopped into one of the MILLIONS of shoe stores in town....
Digression: Russian women are passionate about shoes! Nata has an entire cupboard with 4 shelves, I think, lined with shoes. Its like the movie "the devil wears Prada! And the heels! I have never seen so many pairs of 3 to 4 inch heels, every diameter, worn on so many feet. I find that as I walk I am so fascinated by the women in these heel, many stilettos (Sp?) that I walk looking at feet. The population is about 2/3 female it seems so there are lots of shoes to see.
The shoe store was a fun experience... after I got done explaining to the two salesgirls that I had mnogo nogo ( which is translated as 'many feet') and was corrected to Bolshoi nogo (which is the correct thing and means large feet :-)) They worked very hard to get me a medium heel in all the few pairs of shoes they had that were in my size. As a rule, Russian women can be tall and one would expect big feet, but here in the Altai, the people are much smaller due to the fact that Altaian folks are not very tall. So finding larger sizes can be challenging. We also found out that the European size we take in shoes in Russia is about 2 European sizes smaller than the same sizing in the States.(Elsa got a great pair of short boots made in Switzerland the other day and her size was smaller too).. Go figure? And they aren't all made in Russia.
So these shoes have a heel, and to me it is huge.... But in my first meeting with students I thought I shouldn't stretch the envelope too far:-) I, of course, did tell them that I bought the shoes just for them and that I was not used to them. Frankly I felt like a really big girl when I wore them.. it was fun and they will live in our office closet so that I can wear them when I am at school and not risk breaking an ankle on my walk there!!!
My students were lovely and wanted to ask questions. My challenge is to deliver Ecology content that is general and interesting but to do it in such a way that the students improve their skills in English speaking and reading. So Ive spent lots of time on thinking about the basics. The last week has allowed me to really evaluate the content that is important to deliver and the delivery. On Monday we just talked and I passed out a syllabus and tried to make them comfortable. I think I succeeded. Natalia expects more for my first lecture tomorrow. More on how it went and some pictures next blog post.... stay tuned!!!!