About Rachael

I'm a Canadian who recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a BA in Cinema Studies and Russian Language and Literature. This is a pretty good indicator of my passions. I live for movies. Forget Christmas - give me Oscar Night. Away with a marketable major - I'm choosing the one where I can watch movies all day, every day. Academically, I regret nothing.

However, the more immediate influence on my life is my time as a Russian student. I started out college wanting to learn a new language (at the time I spoke French, and have since added German and Hebrew). I hesitated between German and Russian for weeks, but when it came down to it the Russian class was more convenient for my schedule. This happy accident led to one of the best experiences of my life. I never had a dud professor in my four years in the department. Furthermore, the material was always engrossing, from the centuries-dead Patriarch of Whatchamacallit to that sardonic and brilliant master known as Nabokov. I watched endless Cheburashka, puzzled over Lenin's speeches in Russian, and of course made plans.

Right before school ended, I got my TESOL/TESL/TEFL/partridge in a pear tree certificate. As soon as it was complete, I began to look for jobs. My placement service said Russia was a no-go. I looked elsewhere. Within a day, I had an interview. Within another, I had a job. At the end of August, I will travel to Moscow to teach English to kids and teenagers. It's a daunting prospect, but on the other hand it is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Whatever happens, it will be the biggest adventure of my life. Check this blog to follow my life in Russia and anything else that life chooses to bring.

As for what happens after...um? 


  1. Hi Rachael,

    My name is Jen Squibb and I'm a fellow Canadian who is thinking about teaching English in Russia come September! I found your blog when I was looking up teaching opportunities and I would love to ask you some more questions about your experience. In particular, it would be great to get your insight regarding employers (i.e. which schools to avoid and which to apply for) as well as how the current situation with Russia and Ukraine might affect English teachers.

    My email address is j_squibb@hotmail.com. I would really, really appreciate any advice or guidance that you could give!


    P.S. I am also a HUGE Tolstoy fan and I completely fangirled over your blog post about the Tolstoy museum. Do you have plans to go to Yasnaya Polyana yet?

  2. Hi Rachael,

    I just read your post about getting a work Visa for Russia (which was very helpful, by the way) and was wondering how you were able to submit your application without buying a plane ticket first, since they do ask on the form for your intended arrival date. Did you just approximate it? And was that sufficient for them (because I agree, buying a plane ticket first is really risky, but at the same time how do you dance around that issue with the embassy - especially since, from my own experience, they really aren't helpful or understanding in the least when it comes to these things)?

    Any advice or clarification you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Here's my e-mail: coljamesleck@hotmail.com

    Thanks very much,
    Chris Leckenby

    1. Hi Chris,

      My company told me to arrive on a certain day (August 25th, in my case), so that was the date I gave the visa people. It was also printed on my letter of invitation, which really helps. Then, after I had the visa, I simply booked a flight that would come into Moscow sometime on the 25th. I don't know how approximation would work, but your letter of invitation should say your intended date. Is your company providing visa support?

  3. Hi Rachael,

    I'm a student at Boston University, and I'm studying international management practices as part of my coursework. I'm part of a 3-person team working to develop a "training packet" to help teach American expats how to work with people in Russia (specifically Moscow). While doing research on the subject, I stumbled across your blog.

    I think your experience working in Moscow is fascinating and if you have time, it would be amazing if my team could chat with you about Russian culture for our project. Your help would be instrumental in completing this project!

    If this is something you can help us with, my email is: tpozz@bu.edu.

    Thanks again for your time, and I hope to speak with you soon!

    Best regards,

    Travis Pozzetta

  4. Hi Rachael,

    My name is Ira Yeap and I work for a morning radio show called Our City with Kirk Lapointe on Roundhouse Radio 98.3. I stumbled upon your website.

    Every morning, Kirk does a callout to expats living around the world about their experiences and influences they’ve taken away from Vancouver. We define an expat as anyone who has spent time in Vancouver, knows the city, and can compare the way of life here to the way of life elsewhere. We delve into issues that are top of mind in the place where the expat is now living. The interviewee functions like a casual, conversational correspondent, giving us a local's insight into how the news, or particular cultural events, are playing out in their area. For example, we might talk to someone in Washington D.C. about the American presidential race. We might talk with someone in Hong Kong about recent clashes in the streets with police. We might talk to someone in L.A. about the Oscars. The purpose of this segment is to take advantage of the collective insight of Vancouverites (or former Vancouverites) around the world & deepen the international dialogue on our show.

    If you are an Vancouver expatriate, please let me know and perhaps we can set up a time for a quick interview.

    Contact me at ira@roundhouseradio.com