Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
Is Ken from the Philippines.
Guys! This is the most special episode that we’ve ever had, well, except for the first one maybe. Why? Because this is our 100th episode! Can you imagine?
So and we are, we are very excited about it, we can’t, you know, hide our emotions and our excitement. But you know what? You can make us even happier. How? Well, you can celebrate it together with us by subscribing to our pages on Apple, Yandex, Soundcloud, Google, Vk – anywhere!
And let us know what you think about our show! Tell us – how long have you been with us? How many episodes do you think you’ve listened to? Rate and review our podcast, give us stars, leave comments, ask questions!
And feel free to send your ideas about our next episodes. So that we become even better! The sky’s the limit! Woohoohoo! So and you know what? I think, I think, it would be great to kinda, you know…
Throw down the memory lane.
Exactly. And remember the previous episodes and I think that Ken here is the veteran of the podcast because you have been there recording the very first episode.
So what was it like? How did it feel? What did you think about when you were recording the very first one?
Well, to start off, let me say that first, it was an idea that initially came to the mind of Sam, because he was my partner in the very first episode of the podcast. And to be honest with you, when he brought it up to me, I was kind of hesitant, because it’s something that I hadn’t done before.
And I thought to myself oh my god, podcast, how am I gonna sound? And I was kinda worried, because, to be honest with you, I’m a bit self-conscious, like, I wouldn’t want to make a caricature of myself whenever I make mistakes, cause, you know, as a teacher, I wouldn’t want to put myself in a position out there where people could judge me.
Because I might say something that may be disagreeable to other people. So when he brought it up to me, I thought okay, are you sure that you want to carry it with me, because maybe you would want other, you know, teachers.
And he said no no no, I like you, so let’s have this conversation, please, join me. And I said okay, why not? So the very first day actually, before that we thought about which topics to talk about and then…
So we decided to have the UK first to talk about, culture, you know, the language et cetera, about where he comes from, the first two episodes. Followed by the 3rd and 4th episode focusing on my country, the Philippines. And actually we did it on a couch, not like our set-up today, so we’ve gone a long way, cause now we have a real I would say a studio.
For a podcast, yes. But back then we were just sitting on a couch, recording on a phone with the small…
On a phone? Are you kidding me? Really?
Booth, yeah, okay, it looked so weird, yeah… What was it? It was like two chairs and then we had this like Styrofoam.
Oh my goodness, can you believe it? But the very first one, at least the first few episodes, we were just sitting on a couch, and so there was this small microphone that we had to share.
Oh you had one, so you kinda had to pass it?
Well, it’s fixed on one place and then eventually we had two like separate small microphones. And I remember while doing it I was actually really nervous.
That was my very first time and I thought oh my god, okay. Here we go, here we go. And then when he started… Of course, initially in whatever activity we do, we feel nervous at the beginning, but as it, you know, at is goes by, eventually you get the hang of it, you feel more comfortable.
Oh my god, cause I joined way later when recording on a couch has been replaced by recording in a little…
And then from then on I mut say that I felt more and more confident, and what else? We moved on from basically introducing ourselves and what this podcast is all about to talking about many different topis. We talked about music, animals, our own experiences here in Russia.
Actually, that was one of the, one of my most favorite episodes. Even though the quality of the sound was not that good, let’s be fair, but I just loved hearing your stories about mother Russia. You know, it was so fun. Yeah I think it was like the fifth or the sixth, at the beginning, yeah.
Oh god, that was so cool. And yeah, I think we should point out that the name of the podcast is What’s the craic.
Right. Okay, I just want to explain that, because when we were thinking about the name, so he was thinking of something else, and then I told him, anyway, because you are the one who brought this up, why don’t we just call it What’s the craic?
Because basically that’s how, you know, they greet each other or ask each other in Northern Ireland and the craic is spelled like c-r-a-i-c, so it’s like how are you? Or what’s happening? And then he said that’s actually cool. So we can adopt it.
Oh so it wasn’t Sam who came up with the name?
No, but then again, it’s alright, because he’s like the main host. By the way, it moved from me being his like partner in the early stages to him having of course other guests or teachers. But it was just fun to do it, you know, with him from the very beginning. And to see how this has grown because now we have our own studio with fancy microphones.
Oh my god! And he got all the credit! Look at him!
Yeah, if you, listeners, follow us on Instagram, you might have seen this, cause we have posted the pictures of us recording on our Insta stories, of us sitting with three professional mics just so you understand…
You know, with the sound, what is it, like?
Sound absorbing curtains, so yeah. And if you haven’t seen this, well, follow us on Instagram to see, you know. Yeah. I remember there have been so many guests. Some of them are no longer here with us at BigAppleSchool cause they’ve moved back. I remember Ryno, Ian, Mike. Oh my god there have been so many.
And you know what? It used to be just like foreign teachers, but then it moved on to having a combination of the native speaker and then you had the Russian teacher. And then you have the podcast where basically you have the local teachers, the Russian teachers, talking about many different things, so now it has expanded and it has become bigger.
Absolutely. It started as only native speakers, then Sam had some guests who were Russian speakers, and then actually I remember that as an experiment we had episodes with only Russian teachers in Russian. And if I’m not mistaken Inga, you recorded some of them, haven’t you?
I recorded with Natasha, Natalya, with Nina, with the teacher of children, children’s teacher at BigAppleSchool. We spoke in Russian, we discussed teenager problems, how to have classes how to help them to study English.
We spoke about parents, that parents shouldn’t help their children because children should come to school with their mistakes, so that’s why we have to correct their mistakes, to see their mistakes to correct them.
So it was really interesting and important topic I guess. And it’s really important for parents to listen to. I strongly recommends parents of children to listen to these podcasts. So we have a lot of podcasts, different podcasts, different topics about traveling…
Yes. About different countries. I’d like to mention about South Africa, the UK, the USA of course. Armenia, of course!
Oh yeah there were several episodes actually! About food, about Armenia…
Culture, traditions, right. It was just, I was so excited to speak about my native country.
Oh, I loved that episode, yeah. I had to google a lot of things though, especially, you know, names.
Yes, yes-yes-yes! Cause I don’t know much, well, I didn’t, at that point, know much about…
Names. Like, even though I could imagine what it looks like, but yeah. And we had two special episodes with, so these episodes were also in Russian with our special guest Yulia Speroff from Seattle, and we got… Again, these must’ve been my favorite episodes, really, to record. Cause we discussed West Coast vs East Coast, cause I lived on the East Coast.
Oh god, it was like east coast’s better, she was like West Coast’s better! And yeah, it was so much fun. And then the second one that recorded together with her was about the difference between the US and Russia.
So we talked about culture shock, dogs in the US, absolutely everything. So yeah. And what about you actually? What are your favorite episodes? What do you think?
I guess about favorite music, influence on our life and why we need it actually. About Cambridge exams, I guess it will help children, teenagers, to….
Yeah, that was very useful.
Yeah, that was very useful. About teenagers of course, it was my topic, to help them, how to behave.
You just love teens, let’s be fair.
I like the fact that he… I mean that she is a motherly figure and I can see that in the relations.
I really like working with them, really.
I can mention as well social networks, we are addicted to them or not, so, what to do.
Can you see the diversity of the episodes we’ve got? I sometimes forget about how diverse our topic are. Ken, what about your favorite episodes?
You know, I don’t think there is anything in particular because usually it’s more about the topic that’s, you know, being discussed, but if I have to mention one. The one that I had with Natalya where we talked about social problems. I know it’s a bit like, you know, depressing to talk about problems.
Yeah, cause you talked about homelessness, drug problems.
Exactly. Alcoholism. But for some reason I kinda enjoyed it because, you know, I’m the type of person who wants to talk about life. Life that is, you know, more relatable to people, because, I mean, let’s face it – we live in this life and we encounter so many different problems.
And for me it was a great venue to talk about these things, because I thought they were relevant, so I would say that’s one of my favorites. Although I can also say that the earliest episodes with Sam, I also enjoyed them.
Not just for the topics that we have discussed, but because of our friendship, because he’s really, like, very-very close to me. We could just, I don’t know for those of you who have been listening to us from the very beginning, there were always laughs, because, you know…
He loves interrupting me. But I also made fun of him, so yeah. At the earliest episodes.
Yeah I remember in one of them Sam was constantly interrupting you, you were like just let me speak! Will you?
Oh god, yeah. That, yeah. But we’re growing. Well, we’re not saying of course that now we are not fun to listen to, I hope we are, still are. We should throw a party to celebrate our 100th episode!
00:13:21 K: Party!
Funny I should mention this, because this is actually our topic for today. So, parties and gifts. So tell me, are you guys party animals? Have you ever been one?
Well, allow me to say that in my younger days, I talk as if I’m really old now, but no. If we talk about, let’s say, in my early 20s, well, it started when I was a teenager. In my late teens to early 20s, yeah. And mid-20s as well. I would say that I was a party animal and by party animal of course, not just…
I don’t know what the… what associations of party is, but for me when you say like a party, it’s not limited to birthday party that people think. Because you can be called a party animal if you like going to clubs or bars.
And I must say that, oh god, back in those days I was really a party animal. And by that I meant I loved attending huge events, and if we talk about, say for example, evening activities, like going to bars or clubs, there’s a lot of dancing, singing, even though my voice is terrible.
And I remember you told us that you like karaoke, so.
Absolutely. And I’m sorry to say this, but also a bit of drinking, maybe not just a bit, but a lot of it.
Again, we remember the episode about drinking, so, come on. Everything has been said already.
So basically, yeah, I can say that I was once a party animal, but nowadays… How do I put it? Maybe I have, I’m more tamed now. It’s not because I’m getting old, or maybe partly because of that. But maybe I’m more serous about life. I don’t know, it’s like…
I think it’s a totally expected maybe change in behavior, when you are in your early 20s. This is exactly the time to party, to do crazy stuff, you know. But once you get older, you kinda calm down. I think this is only natural.
I just wanted to celebrate life, because I was young, wild and free at the time. It’s not that I’m already tied down and you know, I have a family, but for some reason, I’ve just… Maybe I’ve just matured.
I love that, I love that. Alright, and Inga, what about you?
I don’t know, maybe unfortunately or fortunately, I’m not a party animal, because so I like having guests at my place. I like cooking, I like just treat my guests, but I don’t like to go to the parties.
But wait. Cause actually, in my mind, if you have a gathering, so people come over, let’s say, you cook something, you maybe play…
Well, I don’t know about you, but let’s say sometimes board games. In my mind it still can be considered as a party. Cause you have gathering, you have people, you prepare for it.
I’m really a sociable person, I like, I have a lot of friends. So we gather together, we buy some sweets, cakes, I don’t know. A lot of tasty food or maybe cook something and invite friends to my place. And but I don’t like going to the parties to the clubs, to restaurants. Something like that. And actually that’s why I’m not a party animal I’d say.
So you like parties as long as it’s quiet parties at home.
What I’m getting from her is like she’s a homey kind of party animal, like in a homy way.
It’s rather more, I would say, gentle, more peaceful. Not much of the craziness that I did when I was younger.
Which is also good, you know, which mean you don’t lose yourself because sometimes if we talk about like wild parties, I’m sure our listeners do understand that with some kind of alcohol you could really go crazy. Because with the help of alcohol, you know, you become crazy and you just do stupid crazy things.
The strange thing that springs to my mind when I hear the word party, it’s just loud music, a lot of people, champagne.
That’s typical association.
Exactly. I think this is exactly what it is – a stereotype. So we all have this picture of like wild dancing, lots of alcohol and whatnot, especially from all those American movies, that’s true. But it’s not usually like that. Not always like that.
Well, Katya, before we go there, I mean, discussing about the stereotypes. What about you? I mean are you a party animal?
I don’t think I am. And you know, when I was at school and a lot of school kids, well, when we were like 16-17 maybe.
Yeah, so they rally loved, you know, going to a club. I’ve never been a fan of clubs, so honestly I think I’ve been to a club like 5-6 times in my life, that’s it. Sometimes, but now, like not in my teenage years surprisingly.
Cause I wanted to dance, that’s what I wanted to do. And I was approached by a person who said oh my god, you really don’t know how to dance, do you? I was like excuse you now? But you know, even though you try not to give a damn about it, you can’t but do that.
My parents are lucky actually, you know what? When I was a teen, I never wanted to go to these crazy parties with lots of alcohol, whatever. Or go to a club or something, no. I was very quiet, sitting at home, reading my books, playing my computer games. So, things like that, so yeah.
You know, just to be clear, you are not missing out in life, because come on, you know.
And the only reason why I became a party animal it’s because of the circle that I had back then.
Yeah we are very often influenced by the people that surround us.
But I would say that I have only got to love not clubs per se, but dancing, when I moved to the US. There is a reason for that actually. Because I remember once going to a club in Novosibirsk and I was enjoying myself, I was just dancing.
So but then when I moved to the US I kinda realized that everyone is so supportive, no one gives a damn about what you do. So yeah, and I just started to enjoy myself, so that’s why sometimes, usually like once every 4 or 5 months, sometimes more often, my friend and I would just go to dance. So to dance and also at a place that we go to there is air hockey, you know this thing?
And I love that. So two things, you know, what’s there not to love? Air hockey and dancing.
But not, yeah, but I can’t say that I’m like a huge fan of that, so it’s not that I’m going out every week. Nah.
So even now, you don’t go to the clubs.
No. Well now nobody goes to clubs, you know since last year, since 2020 nobody does. But yeah, sometimes I think I want to go dance, but that’s it, not you know, have anything wild. Nothing like that. But yeah, so why don’t we talk about these stereotypes actually? So from movies and from whatever. So we picture it as something wild. So what do we picture? Like, lots of people?
Right, lots of people, loud music, champagne. I don’t know why, not vodka.
Well, because it’s American movies, you know.
And a pool, big swimming pool.
Parents are away, teenagers out…
Oh my god, this sounds like a crazy house party when you invite your friends over. And it’s not just the variety of music, but oh my god, loud music that it can be disturbing even to neighbors. Well, sadly, that’s the effect of it and it can be really, you know, inconvenient or uncomfortable for your neighbors. But if we talk about crazy parties, that’s how it normally goes.
But I wanna ask you. So, we can talk about actually 4 different countries right now. So what about Philippines, Armenia, Russia, and the US? So are parties like that common? Especially if we talk about teenagers? Do they actually do that? Do they throw crazy parties while their parents are away?
Well actually, yes. Cause I’ve been to such parties about several times when I was a teenager. However, we tried to make sure, as much as possible, whenever we were still okay, by okay I mean sober, to not to make it too loud. Because, you know, you never know if you’ve hit the jackpot and the neighbor…
Comes knocking on your door and call the police? So we try to in sort of control ourselves. But then, yeah, it happened. And for the most part I would say that parties like that, especially with teenagers, with their parents being away, yeah, it happens.
There is loud music. There are games also, lots of food. And when it comes to the food, it’s not just the host who invited the guests, who prepared the food. But including the guests themselves, can also bring in some food.
So yeah, it’s like potluck I think we call that.
When you basically bring whatever you can to the pot as yeah, as they call it. Usually snacks. But you know, mentioning the police. Technically if we think about it, what’s the worst that the police can do in this situation? They’re gonna you know, uh-uh-uh…
Yeah, no more than a warning. Because usually, you know, nobody writes a fine or, you know, goes to jail for this.
You know, yeah, I’ve never heard, at least, from my experience or from what I’ve heard, I’ve never heard of anyone who was arrested, unless there’s, you know… Okay, cause it’s another thing when somebody, for example, causes a serious crime, and by crime I mean, you know… I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, like, stabbing or, you know what I mean.
Yeah, yeah. And, I mean, if you, I do not know, are rude to a police officer, of course, you can get locked up for like a day or something, but yeah, other than that it’s usually a warning, cause everyone understands that that’s teens.
Oh, we have parties of course. Family parties generally. So we have there a lot of people actually, a lot of children. Children, it’s a family party, of course. But of course we go to the clubs, to the clubs, to restaurants.
So I can remember my 20th anniversary, we went with my friends, we went to the café and danced up to 12 o’clock at midnight. So it was amazing. We didn’t drink alcohol, we just had a lot of food on the table, we had a big cake, big cake. We had barbecue, but we danced a lot, I remember up to now. So it was amazing.
So it’s not common for the teenagers then to throw, you know, these crazy parties?
I think in Russia it’s not too common when you’re a teenager, but it can be common if you’re a student and you rent an apartment. And I think this is exactly what is happening in my case with my neighbor. May she live long and peaceful life.
Yeah. Cause she’s, I think she’s like around 21-22 and if generally she’s not loud and everything, but sometimes during the weekend there is, you know, loud music. And once actually, so I woke up at 2am cause there was loud music, loud conversations.
Then I heard them going to the balcony, we have a shared balcony basically, everything that surrounds us is a wall. And they stepped outside to have a smoke apparently, so I went outside and I was like leaning and said “Are you…” Am I allowed to swear?
Am I allowed to swear? Cause you know, I feel like I should, but restrictions. I was like are you out of your mind? It’s 3am, get quieter. They were like oh sorry, sorry. And then they actually did become quieter, not quiet enough for me to fall back asleep, but still.
And I’ve just realized that if that ever happens, I’m just gonna call the cops. Cause she lives in a one-room apartment, so her only room is, you know, my bedroom, so we share the wall, so yeah. God, and they’re so loud sometimes.
But the thig is that you can’t really call the cops if people are just shouting at each other. Cause what are you gonna say? They’re shouting at each other! The police is gonna say so what?
And I’m like… I have released that now I love, I kinda love parties, but not in a way of like gathering of a lot of people, but this small, you know, little gatherings with friends, with snacks, maybe baking something. A bottle of wine and board games. So, something like that.
So, yeah, not you know, like, crazy dancing, but more like hey, let’s play board games or watch some tv shows. And we just, you know, so I have several board games and we just put them, you know, on the floor, sit on the floor with snacks around. So.
It sounds more wholesome and homy in a way. Not the wild party that, well, not the wild parties that I used to engage in.
But I… While I was at college, I mean, teaching at college, and I remember mentioning it during our episode about alcohol. So I saw these wild parties. So college actually helped organize some of them. So there was like an open party on a kind of a…
Not a field, but we have this hill, so the college hired a dj and everything, they allowed students from MIT to come. But god, since I was living in a dorm that time, I could hear all the pre-game going on. So the students were kinda like drinking before the party. That was wild!
The music was on until midnight, cause that was the policy of the college – we allow you to do this until midnight. But if I’m not mistaken, two girls were taken to hospital by an ambulance cause they got too drunk. Young and stupid!
But let’s talk about… Well, maybe not parties, but celebration of certain events. So, what about birthday? So, how is birthday usually celebrated, let’s say, in your country? And how do you celebrate it now?
Well, if we talk about children’s party, the funny thing is there’s always… It’s almost like a rule that there has to be a clown, cause the clown is basically the one to entertain all the kids. And there’s always, like you know, balloons, party hats, spaghetti will always be there.
Yeah, really. It’s funny because it’s not from the Philippines. But in every party there should be spaghetti, if we talk about Filipino parties, birthday parties. That’s when you know somebody’s celebrating his or her birthday.
I don’t know why, but it has become a part of our, you know, party culture.
I’ve never heard about it. Spaghetti for a party!
And, of course, lots of games, because, you know, it’s a children’s party. And sometimes party might be invited too to have some games that parents could join, could actually join. But if we talk about other parties, for adults, yeah, it’s mostly with a bit of karaoke, because, you know, Filipinos love singing. So lots of music as well and I’m sorry to mention drinking again.
That’s part of our life, so what’s there to be ashamed of? That’s just part of parties.
So, lots of singing, dancing, drinking, eating of course. And, what else? There could be games as well. Although, the focus is more on, you know, it’s more like a musical party cause there’ll be lots of singing. And if you have karaoke at home, it’s even better. Cause everybody will want to sing.
Yeah. Oh my god. Inga, what about Armenia?
I can’t say about singing, we dance, we dance a lot of Armenian dancew. We dance a lot. Armenian barbecue, of course, of course. So during the children’s party we have the clown as well, a lot of balloons. Parents are there.
We go to cafés. For teenagers, we go to the restaurants. We celebrate an anniversary, or maybe we celebrate it at home, just with parents or maybe parents leave us and we have dance, dance, dance, dance, dancing. So a lot.
Dancing nation. It’s so cool. You know, I think a lot of Russian people would agree right now that when we were kids somehow our birthday was never really our birthday.
Exactly. So you can imagine – you have a birthday, so it’s your family, your relatives. Usually your adult relatives, who kinda, you know, start drinking and talking and you’re like okay, why do I have to see all these faces? You know, on my birthday.
What about celebrating me? Me? That’s my birthday! But no. They bring gifts of course, there’s always cake. But other than that it’s more of an adult event, it becomes an adult event. I, I’m not sure about now, cause, you know, things change of course. So I believe that let’s say my generation so we, who have kids now, we wouldn’t do it this way. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be different, but I’m not sure. So, yeah.
And by the way, while we’re still at it, because we’re talking about birthdays and part of your question is how do we celebrate…
How do you celebrate it now? I was gonna, you know, remind you of that. What about now? How do you celebrate your birthday now? Nowadays.
Okay, before I talk about how I celebrate it nowadays, just to give you an idea. Before I was… How will I put it in a nice way? Anyway, the first thing that comes to me is I was a bit self… I’m too hard on myself to say this, but anyway. I was so obsessed with myself. I felt like if… Whenever I celebrated my birthday, it’s my day. It’s a special day.
That’s called self-love hon.
Okay, yeah, that’s better than being self-obsessed. Anyway, so I felt that I had the right to be treated special on that day. And you know, I really had some expectations like there should be some kind of surprises, you know, things like that.
And I really enjoyed huge parties, like even when I started working and I was earning my own money, then I would treat my friends to go to, say, for example, a restaurant or club and pay for everyone, cause this is my birthday. So everybody should be happy and we’re gonna have fun.
And I even wanted people to know that it was actually my birthday on that day. I would expect messages, phone calls, things like that. But it’s funny because right now, if I can be really honest, I don’t even want people to know that it’s my birthday.
I don’t want to celebrate it. If I celebrate it, I want to celebrate it only with one person or maybe maximum two, with me, yeah. In some quiet place, in a restaurant, you know.
Values change, I think. That’s fine.
And I don’t even care if people don’t remember my birthday, because to be honest with you, here’ the thing, I feel guilty whenever people greet me on my birthday. But when it’s their birthday, like, huh? It’s your birthday? Today? Oh, okay. Really, that’s why now when people don’t know or forget about my birthday, cool. It’s okay. I wouldn’t be offended, I wouldn’t be upset.
Well, luckily social media don’t let us forget about birthdays. Thank you Facebook.
You didn’t even wait for us to celebrate, to congratulate you on your birthday, remember?
Did you run away before being…?
No-no-no-no, he was in the room and we opened it like Happy Birthday, just sang a song.
Not expecting anything at all. Yeah.
Interesting. So now you don’t really celebrate it.
Oh I like my birthday, really. So my old teenagers, my students, I don’t know why, they remember this day. Their parents remember it. Two years ago if I’m not mistaken I got a cake special cake, covered with the picture of BigAppleSchool, can you imagine? It was amazing.
Oh yeah, I think I remember that! At least a picture of that.
It is so sweet. So I get a lot of cards, a lot of presents, flowers. So their parents call me and celebrate, it’s so cute, I really like it. So, like, not for presents, but I like for attention, for… They remember this day, they try to just celebrate me. It’s really nice.
How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you?
Actually I do it at home, with my relatives, with my family.
That’s lovely, that’s lovely. And I… It’s kinda difficult to answer this question now, because I’ve been living on and off in Russia and in the US for the last 3years, 3-4 years, so it’s kinda difficult, because 2, well… Yeah, 3 years ago I spent 2 birthdays in the US.
Last year I was here, but was I under quarantine? No, I wasn’t. So it wasn’t much, just, you know, we just spent some time, had a dinner with my parents. So this year I really… I love my birthday, let me be fair, I really love it. And I am one of those annoying people who are like my birthday’s in a week! My birthday’s in a week!
Oh I’m the same, I’m the same.
I don’t know, I really love it. And this year… My birthday’s in a month, and I have decided to have a celebration. So the thing is that in Novosibirsk there is this culinary school kinda that organizes some kind of workshops or lessons, so I’m getting my best friends and we are having a lesson kinda, so where we are taught how to cook something.
So it’s a huge kitchen, you all get your own set of ingredients, so you follow the chef’s instructions. If you want, you can have a glass of wine while you’re doing it, so you know. And you can choose and make both an entrée and a dessert. And I’m like oh, I love that. For this birthday celebration we’re gonna be cooking.
Yeah, and under the supervision of a professional chef. So I like these things, you know, experiences.
I wanted to have a tradition, actually, of spending my birthday weekend in New York city, but, well, Covid is a bitch who ruined my plans, I’m sorry. So, yeah. But that’s about birthday. Now, what about graduation, when you leave school. Is that celebrated anyhow?
That’s actually one of the biggest events. And it’s I would say a must celebrated event. In the Philippines, as far as we’re concerned, because for us that is a life achievement and you know, not everyone can go to school and to even finish one’s education.
So that is, that’s always a big celebration. And it’s always a source of pride for the parents that they were able to, you know, have their children graduate from school. And so there is always a huge party.
And it’s almost like it’s announced to the community that hey, we have a son or a daughter who’s finishing or is having a graduation this weekend, so hey. If you wanna come to our house, you’re invited.
So, is this graduation party a family party? I mean, because let’s say in Russia when you graduate there’s a huge party of the whole year that celebrates it. So for example you have three classes, so I’s like 90 people-100 people, and it’s a big celebration of all of them.
So usually some kind of a restaurant is rented, you know. There are MC, so the music, everything like that. But it’s not that common to celebrate it in a family, cause, you know. The kids are gonna celebrate it all together, all 100 of them. So but in the Philippines…
It’s more of a family thing because it’s a source of the parents’ pride. But not the way you celebrate it here, like the whole, I don’t know, graduating batch, no. After the ceremony itself we leave individually, each family on its own to have their own celebration.
Wow. That’s so different, but so interesting. Yeah. Oh, I’ve just realized I should ask my friends about the US cause I have no idea, but yeah, in Russia it’s big, you know. And everyone’s crazy, why?
Because usually girls, you know, have some kind of dresses for the ceremony when they get, you know, the certificate or whatever. And then they usually change to even a… even a more fancy dress.
Fancy dressed, right, to go to the restaurant.
And then they go to a restaurant, you know, to show off, to party.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. So what about Armenia actually?
We have a big celebration of course, so relatives come to congratulate, bring a lot of presents. But family, actually, the family of this kid, of this teenager, presents a piece of jewelry. A ring for girls and something unusual for boys, it can be a necklace or something like that, or bracelet.
I don’t know. So girls get a ring, gold ring. So it is really amazing. And it’s something like a new life begins with a new piece of jewelry. So we celebrate it, we rent a restaurant, children go to restaurant. And parents, relatives gather together at home maybe or they go to another restaurant, not to…
Let the kids have their own party, you know.
Without supervision. Oh, and what about weddings? Oh Inga’s gonna shine right now.
Everybody knows about Armenian weddings, they are really big, really big. I had a separate car, a separate podcast about Armenian weddings, traditions. So we have a lot of guests, 200-300 guests at a restaurant.
Everybody dances, dances, dances. Sure. So everybody’s happy, so everyone dances there. So, children, adults, it doesn’t matter. And of course they bring gift cards, actually. Just generally they present gift cards. So relatives present jewelry, pieces of jewelry. So but neighbors, maybe friends, they present some gift cards with some sum of money.
I think that’s actually, you know, convenient.
It’s convenient to buy whatever you want to buy, you need to buy, so it’s really convenient I guess.
You know, weddings in my country, it depends on the budget. Of course for those who are more modest, they would prefer to have what you call a civil wedding, which actually happens in like a government building and then you know, the signing of the documents basically.
And they would just either go to a just a small restaurant if they want it to be more private. Or just to go straight home and, you know, do the celebration there with just a few guests, mainly family and relatives. But if we talk about those who can really afford and let’s say…
Not just really afford, but if we talk about traditional Filipino weddings, we picture it happening in a church. Firstly, let me say that the Philippines is a predominantly Roman catholic country as influenced by the Spaniards. So we want…
And our view of marriage, this is holy, it’s, you know, God puts you together and it has to be a huge celebration. And it has to be done, first, in the church where you exchange your vows, where there is a priest.
Yeah, with all that ‘till death do us part’.
Exactly. And it’s… Oh my god, the church itself is well-decorated. There is this long red carpet in the middle and then lots of guests, well-wishers as well. And then after that we go to the reception, depending on what they would want it to be held. Say for example, on the beach.
I remember my friend, she had it in Boracay, this is, you know, a huge beautiful island in the Philippines. So lots of guests, lots of activities, again, I’m sorry for mentioning, drinking again.
Oh yeah, it’s like the biggest part of a Russian wedding, you know.
I don’t know parties without any kind of alcohol I guess.
Oh well. And if we talk about the old old tradition where we would dance to a music and then each one, each of the guests, they will have to pin some bills, like money, onto the dress of the bride. And the groom as well. Actually, both.
Oh my goodness, I’m gonna google it, you know.
Yeah, really. But you know, it’s kind of like, how will I put it? Embarrassing at times, if you just, you know, pin in a small amount of money, because it’s public, everyone can see it.
Yeah, everyone can see it, yeah. Oh my goodness, oh god.
I don’t know, thank God I don’t live in that generation where it’s really somewhat required. But nowadays, if we talk about modern weddings, I would… Well, I haven’t seen that for a long while, so I suppose we’re not really strictly observing this tradition anymore.
I think traditional Russian wedding is a, I’m sorry, but it’s a nightmare to my opinion, to my mind.
Well, because you know, a traditional wedding used to be, and maybe it’s the way it is now, you know, you have a lot of people and then thing is that everyone sits at a designated place, so you can’t really move. Lots of food, then the bride and the groom they sit at the…
At a certain part of the room, at the middle of the table. Then you have a horrible MC, a master of ceremonies, who would make, you know, the cheesiest jokes ever. Some kind of contests.
I don’t like the contests.
I hate them! Everybody does! And then a lot of alcohol and most people get drunk and, no! So I’m kinda planning my wedding right now, and I’m like we are not having any of that stuff! It’s gonna be maybe some kind of an arch, 5-6 people max.
Well, given that it’s gonna be in another country, I do think that it’s gonna be 5-6 people max. Maybe some, you know, not snacks, but some kind of meals that are easy to grab and go. Just circulate and talk to people.
Maybe, okay, maybe some signature drinks, you know, something like that. But that’s it. Not a huge gathering, nothing like that, just cute ceremony, that’s…
Yeah, but I mean. You know, now I think that it’s always better to keep it quiet, keep it small, but then maybe go travel.
Why not? To save some money.
Exactly. Like, to have a honeymoon for example.
I actually like that idea. And if I were to be married some day, I would want it to be like that, cause I don’t know. You know, it’s fun because now I have become more private and I don’t like big group anymore.
Especially, you know, it’s your special day, so why invite people who you don’t maybe know really well. And with spending a lot of money. I have chosen my dress already. I mean, yeah. I know that it’s like a year before the event, but. And I’m like I’m not spending more than a $150, that’s the max. No, you know, these crazy thousand of dollars dresses or whatever.
Exactly. You just wear it once. I have chosen the one that I can kinda, you know, cut later and wear it in the summer. Pragmatic, pragmatic.
So there were a lot of people on my wedding day, I don’t see them, I didn’t know about them, it’s something crazy. I don’t see them, never, never.
So in Armenia then it’s gift cards that are gifted to the newly-weds.
In the Philippines it’s money?
Well, used to be. Well, if we talk about modern weddings, now we can give something in kind. It can be… Mostly, things are needed in the house.
I think in Russia nowadays it’s mostly money. Which is, again, convenient. I know that in the US, you know, some people don’t want to give money, they want something more physical maybe. So in this case the couple has a registry.
So they go to a website of a shop, create a special weblist, wish list, sorry, that is called like a registry. And then people choose what they want to present on this website. So that other…
According to their budget.
Exactly. And other guests can actually see what is already taken, so they don’t buy it too. And usually when you create this registry, you put, you know, some minor things, some big things, you know, depending on the budget. Some people might cooperate maybe.
And in the end you get what you want, exactly, you know, what you want, even the color. Cause everything is on the wish list. I think it’s smart.
You should have this list Kate.
Yeah. So, well, for my 5 people that are coming to my wedding? Yeah. So and what about other types of parties, cause we’ve mentioned birthday, wedding, graduation. Now, what about these strange modern parties that are like gender-reveal parties or baby showers. What’s your attitude to them?
We have these kind of parties, gender reveal parties.
Right, yes. I didn’t have it, but my friend had it, so. Their doctor just wrote down the gender on a piece of paper and put it into an envelope and pass it to the confectioner to make a cake, with the filling, with the flavor of, I don’t know, blue for boys, pink for girls.
So at the party there were a lot of balloons, pink and blue. There were a lot of people, relatives, all of them were waiting to cut the cake. Then see the gender, so. It was a boy actually, so they were really happy, because Armenians like boys, I don’t know why.
I think now people, you know, take it into another level. It’s not always the cake, some people have, you know, balloons and have a needle to pick at it…
Then it pops, then you have something inside. So yeah, there are so many ways to do that now.
You know, I find this interesting, because I don’t think we have such a thing traditionally, because it was never the case that we would want to reveal the gender of our, you know, child in a very public way such that there has to be a party.
But I would say that it’s a recent thing I guess that has entered our culture because little by little I would see videos on Youtube. Filipino families who would have such parties, but if we’re gonna be strict and, you know, go back in time, I don’t even think it existed before.
Well, I think it’s a very recent trend that has come from the US I think, yeah.
Well now that we all have social media, you know, we kinda see the ideas that exist somewhere else. Cause I only saw this on Instagram, you know. I’m like oh, what’s that? Oh that’s what it is. Alright. And what about bachelor or bachelorette party? Have you ever been to one?
I wish I’d been to one, but well, obviously I haven’t. But you know, if any of my friends would invite me, well, why not? I’d be happy to attend one.
So I’ve never been again, so like Ken.
None of us has! Neither have I! If anyone’s getting married soon, please invite us, we ant to see what it’s like. Alright, so we kinda have touched upon it, so, well, one of the biggest attributes of a party. Gifts! So we’ve talked about wedding gifts, but what about birthday gifts actually? So is it common? Do you need to bring a gift to a b-day party? And what do you usually present?
You know, I think it is like an unwritten rule that if somebody celebrates his or her birthday and you’re invited to some kind of a party then you ought to take with you some presents. And in my country normally we just bring something that we will be of use to the person.
Although we also have the option of giving him or her money. But as far as we’re concerned, if you give money, I’m sorry to say this, but it looks a bit lazy.
Like you haven’t’ put any thought into it?
Exactly. And that’s why it would mean more to us if you actually, you know, gave us something that is… probably something that we really like, say for example, as simple as a notebook with a color that we prefer.
Or it could be a pen, it could be a perfume, something that we really like. But if it’s money, it’s not like it’s not appreciated, it’s just okay, money, sure, thanks. At least you bothered to give something as a present.
Interesting! So is it the same in Armenia?
Actually, relatives know what to present. So they know what you need. So of course my husband knows what I want to have. So it is… He always gives me what I want, what I need, but the others try to guess what you need. So they don’t bring money, no, they just try to choose something.
Never money, no. Nowadays, I don’t know. Nowadays maybe something has changed in Armenia, I don’t know. In particular in our family it’s something just, not money.
I think, well, again, I think in Russia it varies from family to family. Like in my family my parents usually presented me some money. But my sister? Never. Never. She’s like uh-uh, I’m gonna choose something.
But then it’s interesting that in the US, you know, it’s not expected of you to bring a gift if you have a birthday party actually. So you can bring booze, so a bottle of wine or something like that, but you’re not expected to bring a gift, which is shocking to my Russian heart and soul, you know. Like, how come that you are coming to a birthday party?
Exactly! And I remember when my partner had a birthday and they invited, you know, people. Only us Russians actually brought, you know, gifts. Everyone was like let us guess, these three gifts are from the Russians, cause nobody else brought a gift. And I was so surprised, like, how? But it’s a birthday! You should celebrate a person! Put some effort! Yeah, no.
Strange. Strange, but true.
I mean, if I get money as a present, I’m totally fine, cause I always know what I want to get, so I’ll get it anyway.
The color, the shape, the size, of course.
By the way, just to be clear, I’m also okay with money.
To anyone listening, I’m okay with money. Donations are accepted at this…
What I said earlier was just the general thing with us Filipinos, that we prefer something in kind instead of money. But you know, I can accept cash.
Cash and direct deposits always welcome.
I can give you my bank account. No, I’m kidding.
Well, you know what, it might be a joke, but last year, when it was quarantine time, that’s exactly what I did. So I couldn’t organize a party, so I’m like hey, that’s my birthday, if anyone wants to make me a little bit happier, here’s the number of my card.
Jokes on you, I bought 19 books for that money. So, I mean, why not? If people can’t, they won’t. But if people want to make you happy, but don’t know how, you know, why not? The art of asking.
Exactly. But I really wanna ask you now. What has been your best, well, first, best gift you’ve ever received?
I think that was a gasp of surprise rather than ‘I have a story!’.
I don’t know how to answer this question, I don’t actually remember my first gift. First gift when, Kate?
I should have the sound effect of like crickets chirping.
I think I really like this bracelet, the bracelet that you can see, it’s just gold bracelet from my husband on our tenth anniversary of marriage. So it was surprise, he knew that I wanted to have this one. And I didn’t know that he was going to present, s it was. So on this day… So it was late in the evening, he presented flowers.
He waited until late in the evening?
He presented only flowers and nothing. So I was oh, okay. Flowers, okay. So late at night, when the jeweler brought, so it was ordered, brought this bracelet, he said congratulations! I was like oh god.
I’m just wearing it always, every day. It’s really the best one I can remember right now.
Okay, I guess it’s my turn. Oh my goodness. Well, the only thing that I can say that I was really-really surprised, that I was very pleased to receive was when I was a child, and I said in of our episodes before. It was like basically a furniture, table and chairs for my action figures, for Spiderman, Batman, et cetera.
That was the best present that I received as a child. Now, as an adult, because the, to be honest with you, for me it’s the thought that counts. So of course I do appreciate presents, but I don’t… How will I put it?
I don’t give much value to them, but it would be nice, well, it is always a pleasant feeling if someone remembers to even, you know, give you something on your birthday. But because, you know, I have changed, I have matured, I don’t even drink anymore. So. I’m not a party animal anymore.
So I think, so if you remember it, even though I don’t remember your birthday day for example, if we talk about friends. I can appreciate it with or without a present. I don’t know, I have changed.
I think in my case there are two best gifts that are totally different. So one of them was three years ago when my partner at the time took me to New York city for my birthday. I was like oh my god are you for real? So yeah, and it was actually, it was also my first time in New York city.
So it was fantastic. Even though we didn’t get to see much cause we, instead of 4 hours of driving, we spent almost 7 hours of driving because of traffic. So but, yeah, it was just fantastic to see all the skyscrapers with your own eyes, you know.
It mut have been really special.
It was, it was. The weather was horrible I gotta say, but I didn’t care, I’m like I finally saw that! And then the second gift. So the thing is that I have no idea who I got it from, cause we… 5 years ago we had secret Santa with one of the groups that I was teaching and my Secret Santa got me a five-year notebook.
So basically it has 365 pages, each page – a question. So and you answer it every year. So and the thing is that it’s not a big deal, basically, but I now… I’m now in my 5th year of that notebook and I can re-read the answers, see what changed. How my opinions on things have changed.
Sometimes I answer the same way 5 years in a row. But some of the questions I see how much I have changed. So and it’s just so precious, you know. This little thing that you didn’t think would be, you know, something valuable. But now it has a lot of emotional value I would say.
So I wanna keep it. And now I kinda wanna find something like that, because 2021 is the last year that I’m keeping it. So I wanna get something like that, so that I can keep track of how I have changed and what things have happened, so yeah.
It’s a very special present.
Right? I have no clue who, out of my students, was my Secret Santa, so if you’re listening, Secret Santa, thank you! See, this is one of the best gifts I’ve ever had in my entire life. And I’ve one last question actually. So, what do you think about recycling gifts? So recycling gifts is when you get a gift, you don’t like it, so you give it to somebody else. So, what is your opinion on that?
Well, personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Okay, I know people might, you know, think that it’s a bit maybe disrespectful in a way, because that present was given to you for you and probably was made for you.
Okay, here’s my thing. I appreciate presents, because it was made… It’s a product of someone’s thoughtfulness and maybe they care about you because they want you to feel special on your birthday. Or it could be Christmas or whatever occasion. But okay, instead of getting rid of the present.
When I say get rid, simply throw it away or to not use it, which is even worse for me, because, you know, what’s the point if you’re not gonna use it? Then I might as well give it away to someone who may need it.
So personally and please don’t judge me, I am open to the idea of recycling presents. And to be honest with you, I’ve done it before. But of course I made sure that, you know, that I gave it to someone that this person who gave the present to me, didn’t know.
Yeah, because even though it’s okay, you know, yeah, you may feel guilty.
If they find out about it, they would be… Oh yeah, you can just imagine.
Inga, what’s your opinion?
Sometimes I think it’s offensive. Ut sometimes when I know that I have got the same one, the same color, size.
And my friend needs it, I can share it of course, why not. But even I know that… So it’s just something valuable and this person wants me to have it, of course I have it, even if I don’t use it, but I have it, I keep it.
Well, yeah, it depends on what it is and who it’s from.
Once I got beautiful silver earrings from my grandma but it was something not for teenager, for adult. My mom liked it a lot, so I said okay, you can wear them if you want.
My grandmother, oh my god, you didn’t like my earrings, so why don’t wear them? So I said my mom is wearing, so. For some time, so I can take them later maybe when I grow up. So it happened, I gave it to my mom. But still there are some things that you don’t like color, shape, so it was even you have had already. It’s okay.
That’ why I like the American tradition kinda, the American way of doing it. So they present gifts with a gift receipt. On a gift receipt you don’t see the sum on money, but if you don’t like it, you can take it back to the store and exchange it for something.
And then in there, only at the store, when you say I wanna exchange it, you choose something else and then they say okay, you need to pay, let’s say, $20 more or you still have some value left. But you can’t exchange it back for money.
Okay. That is something amazing.
It is. Because for example I remember I had a new year gift, and it was a dress and a sweater. But the dress was way too big, so I kinda couldn’t wear it. But there was a gift receipt, so I went to the store, got the same very dress, but in a smaller size, ta-dam!
Yeah. There are so many things we could’ve talked about, you know, but so, I would like to ask you one last maybe question. So I don’t really want to mention what we’ve discussed, cause listeners know already, but hat is the main idea that you have got from this episode? Maybe the most surprising thing? So what are you going to remember this episode by?
Traditions or traditions from the Philippines.
Oh, of course, about Armenia, Russia, when it comes to weddings or celebrating parties. Those things, yeah.
A lot of new things, I guess, new information.
I think the main thing I’m gonna get from this podcast is that 1) recycling gifts is totally fine, don’t be offended by it.
And 2) spaghetti on a Filipino birthday party! That’s gonna stick in my head, really.
Or maybe 200 or 300 people at wedding, Armenian wedding.
Yeah, I’ve been surprised about that since the previous episode.
For me it’s the dances! I don’t know that your culture is so much into dancing. That’s really…
We’re into music, dances. And everyone dances. And I can confess, I dance really well.
Well, I hope our listeners also have found something, you know, interesting and learned something new. Let us know what it was! What surprised you most about today’s episode? And what do you think about gifts and parties? Are you a party animal? Let us know!
Maybe we can throw a party together. You never know! So, alright! So that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and I would like to thank you for listening. And remember if you struggle to understand our conversation, you are always welcome to our website which is BigAppleSchool.com/podcast.
You can find full scripts of each episode there, so you can listen and read and it’s very helpful. Also if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on social media, such as Instagram, as I’ve mentioned, Vk, Youtube, Telegram. Just search our name BigAppleSchool. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see around!