Why I Have a Job: the slavic studies major who gets paid to do nothing most days

This is what people do when their building does not turn on the electricity.

This is what happens in Russia during winter.

Every week, I coerce employed friends into giving job advice.

Name: Sasha

Major: Slavic Studies

What I do all day: I teach English at university in St. Petersburg, Russia, so mostly I try to talk very slowly and clearly about different kinds of transportation and national holidays, field questions about McDonald’s and why American women are “too independent” and navigate a totally dysfunctional educational institution. [Editor’s note: read more about Sasha’s misadventures in Russia here.]

What I would rather be doing all day: At this point, tough to say. Definitely working somewhere that allowed me to escape the atmosphere of a mental institution, perhaps somewhere with a working heating system and a reliable source of electricity, which, strangely, my school lacks.

Where I found this job: It’s a position offered by a study abroad program I did.

Why they hired me as opposed to hundreds of other overqualified Ivy league grads: They actually told me why. It was my GPA. If that sounds like I’m bragging, believe me I was also dismayed when the guy who hired me went around mentioning it to other people who didn’t get the job.

Best part about being employed: I get paid very well for where I live, and I work very little. And, I get to live in Russia. Often, none of my students will show up for class, so I am literally paid to do nothing. However when the students do show up, they are usually pretty cool and have all kinds of hilarious opinions about American life to share with me (all American women get plastic surgery starting at age 16, 90% of Americans have twitter accounts, etc.).

Worst part about being employed: I don’t know if this is the worst of all, but it’s really surreal. In one of my classes, none of the sixteen students came for six weeks in a row and no one, not even the other teacher with whom I was co-teaching the course, did anything but laugh it off. For those six weeks I was literally paid to do nothing. Is that cool? Yes, for a while. It’s also like, what the fuck is going on here? Thankfully, we were able to reschedule that class, so I have two students per week now. Teaching is so rewarding!

Heartfelt advice to your jobless friends who may have been freeloading off of you for months: Question your sanity before you move abroad to escape your unemployment, not after. It will save you the cost of a plane ticket!

If you would like to be featured in the weekly Why I have a Job column or know someone who would, holla.

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