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 is Katya, I’m your host and today with me…
Guys! You know, we're doing our best to be as useful for you as possible and we would like to get some feedback about it. Subscribe to our pages on Apple, Yandex, Google, VK or other platforms, and let us know what you think about our show.
Rate and review our podcasts — give us stars, leave some comments, ask questions, and feel free to send your ideas about next episodes. It won't take much time or effort, right, but it will help us a lot to become even better! So and now we have a very special guest. Natasha, you are here for the first time.
So, tell us something about yourself!
So, actually, I am form Novosibirsk, I was born here and. I graduated from Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University, so I’ve been working in different countries as well as in Russia of course and yeah. I don’t know, what else can I say?
What do you like doing? What are your interests?
I love music obviously, it’s like one of my biggest interests I think, I like travelling, I like learning languages. I’ve tried learning so many languages, really. Yeah, I think that’s it.
I can also add that Natasha is a big coffeeholic, just like me.
That’s so true. Yeah, definitely.
Alright. So and our topic for today is living and working in another country, cause I know that all three of us have had this experience. So it will be very exciting to talk about it. So Ben, let’s start with you. Can you tell us – where have you lived, worked, studied maybe?
Yes, I was studying at quite a few places. So at university I did Italian and Russian at university, so during my year abroad at university I studied in Milan, in Italy. And I studied in Krasnodar, in South Russia. And additionally I worked in America for a while which was a fun experience which we’ll talk about later. And I’m originally from London, England.
I have a question not related to working and studying and whatever in different countries, but what made you choose Russia at university?
I bet you get tired of this.
Exactly, yeah. For example I was going to work every day. Usually actually my assistant, yeah, I had an assistant there, kind of a manager I could day.
Oh good that’s a really…. I think I just watched way too much James Bond when I was young. And now. It’s just… There was no one particular event that made me choose Russian, it’s just such a cool language, I live how it sounds. It’s just such a mysterious country, it’s huge, so many intelligent people here, and there’s so many beauties and tragedies, it’s an amazing place. I’m just fascinated by Russia.
I love asking this question to everyone who’s studying Russian. Cause everyone has their own reasons, so it’s fascinating to know about them. Alright, Natasha, what about you? Where have you worked, lived, studied?
So I’ve lived in Indonesia for a little bit, then was Thailand, China, France. And Scotland.
Can you tell us how long was that? Cause a little bit is, you know, a little bit vague.
Sure, sure, sure. So Indonesia was around 3 months, Thailand was for around a year, Scotland was for about 6 months, and France was just one month.
Was it Bali in Indonesia? Was it Bali?
No, it wasn’t, no, it’s too mainstream you know.
You’re like of course I could go there, but pff, you now, too mainstream.
No, I mean, it was a small city, just one million of population. It was called Padan, it was in West Sumatra. It was pretty nice actually.
Cool! I’ve never heard of that, that’s fascinating.
Yeah. So and there aren’t a lot of, I’d say, people with white skin. Yeah, and I was treated like a star, you know.
I don’t know, sometimes. Maybe.
Oh admit it, you enjoyed it.
Alright, and Ben and what were the time frames? How long have you spent in Italy and in…
So Italy I spent around 6 months there, I studied and taught English there.
Oh you taught English there?
Yeah, it was more on the side, it was not a full-time thing, but. So I did Italian at university as I’ve mentioned, and I did an art course there, so part of the… So part of my degree I had to go to Italy to study something as long as it was in Italian.
And on the side I did some tutoring in English. So yeah, I did tutoring for fellow 18-year-olds when I was 18 at the same time. So 6 months and there and I’ve spent 6 months or 5 months in Krasnodar.
So and what made you come there? I mean, was it an exchange student program? Or you decided just to go travel, to go explore?
So it was kind of an exchange student program? It was part of my degree in the UK. So I went to the university of Bristol, and it’s part of the 4 year language degree. You have to spend your third year in the countries of which you have the target language. Yeah, so I spent 6 or 5 months in Krasnodar learning at Cuban State University, so that was a hilarious experience, I loved it.
Hilarious? Oh I’m intrigued.
Spent some tie living in a dormitory, общежитие.
I can’t wait to talk about it in more detail, cause we have, you know, a separate question about accommodation. Oh guys, wait for it. So and then you worked somewhere, you worked in the US.
Yeah, I worked in Vegas for a couple of years and that was a fun experience to say the least.
What made you choose Vegas? Out of all places in the US. So, no, first, I’m sorry for interrupting myself all the time, but first, why the US? And second – why Vegas?
Alright, so I have a brother who lives in Los Angeles. So I’m originally from London, but my mom is American, so I’m really lucky I get to go to the states. And my brother lives in Los Angeles. And I visited him once and I was still figuring out what career should I do.
And I visited him and I just fell in love with the whole area, it was so much fun. He took me to a long drive to the Joshua Tree, which is this great national park. And I just loved driving on the highway out there, it was so much fun.
So that’s why you love the area, cause you can drive.
Yeah, you can drive and just the scenery is epic, it’s absolutely amazing. So I Just caught the bug and had to go out there.
That’s fantastic. Cause I’m not a driver, so I cannot drive, so for me going to LA would be impossible. Well, I mean, I could go there, but I wouldn’t be able to, you know, get around from places to places, that was a problem for me.
Well maybe I can ask you, cause your family’s from Yakutsk. Do they drive in Yakutsk and how do they start the car in such cold weather there?
Oh remind me to send you some pictures after the podcast, cause you know how in Siberia for example there are special blankets you put on the engine, so it’s like inside the car? So in there you have special blankets that are custom-made to cover the whole car.
Oh my god, that’s hilarious.
And then almost every single car has the system installed, so it automatically starts when it’s -18, -20, -25, you set it. So that it does not freeze overnight. And then also a lot of people have garages that are pretty warm, so. So, yeah, surprisingly but…
Cause I one saw a video of someone making a fire under their car to start the car because it was so cold.
I would not recommend doing that, definitely not.
People drive and I honestly admire people who do that because when it’s -45 and lower, the visibility, because of the fog, is around 10 meters, so it’s very difficult to see where you’re going. So it’s basically like milk is outside in the air, you see nothing.
When you were in Indonesia, did you ever drive on motorbikes?
Actually, I’m just like Kate, I don’t drive.
Well did you ride on a motorbike or…?
Yeah, I did actually. I don’t have a license actually, so it was kind of illegal, but I tried it. It’s exciting, it’s totally amazing.
You know this freedom when you ride a motorcycle, a motorbike I mean.
They’re the same thing, yeah.
And there’s this wind around you and you just go and you feel this freedom, this… I don’t know how to explain, you should just feel it, you know. It’s amazing.
So you told us what places you have lived in, but what made you go there? How did you end up there?
I think the first, I mean, I think it was France. But France was because I was learning French at the university, and that’s why I went to France. But my actual first kind of like travel was to Indonesia and I decided to go there because you know, it’s so exotic, it’s completely different from Russia. And I think it’s totally amazing – all the nature and the people are different.
And also it’s an Islamic country, so yeah. I’m gonna speak about it later a little bit. So yeah, actually, first I wanted to come to India. But all my relatives, all my friends were against that, because it’s kind of dangerous still for a girl especially, if you’re alone there, it might not really be safe.
So I decided to go to Indonesia, because safety is a little bit better there, so yeah, I decided to go there. It was amazing, totally.
What about Thailand? Was there a… cause you said you went to Thailand, so how was that for a lady going to Thailand?
Thailand is much safer actually than India or any other country I think.
So and what part of Thailand it was?
So it was Hat Yai so it’s South of Thailand and it’s right on the border with Malaysia. And it’s yeah, that’s it. And it’s pretty amazing again, like I said. And it was also… I was teaching there, so…
So you were teaching in all these… in all these countries?
Yeah except for France and Scotland obviously.
How did you end up in Scotland and what were you doing there?
Oh I just went there for holiday but then I had to stay there for half a year because of the coronavirus, because of this kind of pandemic, so yeah, it was just necessity I would say. But not such a bad location I would say.
Yeah let’s be fair, it’s better to, you know, be stuck in Scotland or somewhere else rather than, you know, in Yakutia for example.
Maybe. Especially in winter.
Well Yakutia is cool. I mean personally I would love to check out Yakutia, but…
Yeah, that’s true, me too.
I guess, it’s not everyone’s holiday destination.
A-ha. Well I mean it is beautiful, you have a lot of ice sculptures and everything, but very cold.
So ice is the whole year there. I mean…
Well, the snow melts by the end of April. The mid of April, the end of April, depends on the year. And then the snow falls, starts falling in October. But then….
So it’s pretty much the same as in Novosibirsk, more or less.
The only difference is that in there there is continuous permafrost which means that under ground it’s ice. So from 400m to 1 km in different areas of Yakutia. That’s why there will never be a subway, ever.
Yeah, I heard about this as well.
Alright. You know, compared to you guys I’m so boring…
Cause I have only lived and worked in the US, so only one country, only one state, Massachusetts, for 2.5 years on and off. So I spent an academic year there, 3 months in Russia, another academic year there, 7 months in Russia, and then another 3 months there.
And now I’m stuck in mother Russia for god knows how long. Not complaining, not complaining! But you know, would love to have some certainty in life. Alright, so and let’s talk a little bit about working – so we’ll discuss whole lot of things, but let’s talk about working.
So how is it different – working in these countries from working in your country? Well, for Natasha and I it’s Russia, for Ben it’s England. And let’s start with the difficulties and differences. So what can you think of?
So I think in China and Indonesia, as well as Thailand probably, so I was always feeling like, you know, a bit of an outlander probably, because there are huge cultural differences. So you can’t actually just you know, immerge in there. You feel a little bit outside of their usual, of all the other people.
So you can’t easily talk to them because most of them don’t speak English well, so and that’s kind of makes you a little bit stressed I would say. And the worst here was China I think, because people just don’t speak English there, so if you meet a person there who actually speaks good English, or any English, you are lucky.
So and at work it was the same I think. So not so many people spoke English. Even English teachers who are supposed to speak good English and teach English, they could never really understand me. And when I was like speaking to them, I was for example asking about my schedule or something like that, they would just look at me scared or confused.
Oh my goodness! How did you handle this? How did you go through this?
There were… There were some people who could speak English a little bit, and I managed to just communicate with them, again, using gestures, miming, smiling and so on.
Do you speak any Chinese?
Just a little bit. So I practiced a little bit, I learned Chinese for, I don’t know, a year or something like that, but that’s not enough. Like so you have to learn it for 6 or 7 years to actually speak it. And of course when I went to supermarket for example in China I could ask for example where is the water, or where can I buy something, and so how much it is.
For example, how much is this, I don’t know, something, okay. And they would understand me, but of course that’s not enough for communicating with people.
Did you ever come across someone who, in China someone who only spoke Russian instead of English?
Actually, yeah. I went to Shanghai and in the hotel, so a guy just talked to me in Russian, because he heard me, he heard that I was from Russia and he just talked in Russian with me. I was just oh my god. That’s completely, you know. You’re in the middle of China, and the person just speaks Russian to you, pretty good Russian actually.
That must’ve been amazing!
And I found out he was studying in Baku, so and he had to learn Russian as well. And that was funny experience.
I have another question to Natasha actually. Although, all three of us have taught in different countries. So have you noticed any difference in actually teaching, so the difference in how students behave maybe.
Yeah actually I think, I mean, both in Russia and in other countries I usually speak only English during classes. So I think there wasn’t like a lot of difference like in terms of actually teaching, yeah, the teaching process.
But what surprised me in Thailand was the respect and the politeness that the students had to their teachers. So, you know, they were always bowing to me, anywhere they met me. Like, slightly. And it was a bit confusing at first, but then it was also nice, I don’t know. Yeah. So yeah, this is, I think, the most, like, the biggest difference.
Cause the Eastern culture is much more regimented, it’s much more structured.
Exactly. And the teacher is always the figure that you have to respect.
Would you say in Russia that’s kinda like the semi-mix between European and Asian?
Because in here it’s quite regimented. But at least from what I’ve seen. Education’s very structured here.
Yeah, I would say it is a mix. What surprised me when I started teaching at university is that well, to me, it seems that students in the US are more hard-working, because they know the value of education. Well, also they pay hell of a lot of money. So they have no choice but to.
And in there, since you know, you have the GPA and if you don’t work hard enough your GPA is low enough, so then your future potential employer will ask you questions - why is your GPA like that? Didn’t you study well? Why?
So they want to be successful, so they know that it demands hard work. Whereas in Russia I see this attitude which is eh, I’ll go through this somehow. I’ll learn everything the night before the exam for example.
Yeah, yeah. That reminds me of China again, because like people actually compete a lot there. So from a young age, form the age of, I don’t know, 2 or 3 years old, the parents try to give the best to their kids, to like educate them the best way, I don’t know, to just to.
So I had students who were like 3 years old or even less, so yeah, and that’s because they actually try to educate their kids the best way they ever could.
So did you…
00:18:50 B: So their kid will become a violinist or… Sorry to interrupt.
So they would be like a violinist or someone.
Or some literature or something, yeah.
They always feel this pressure, you know, especially older kids. Because again, they have a lot of exams, they have like this competing all the time and it’s… Again, it’s really stressful. I can’t imagine.
So were you teaching, you know, little kids?
I was teaching all the ages actually, but small kids as well, they were my favorite, seriously.
Oh really? How old were they?
So some of them were like, I mean, the youngest were 2.5 years old.
Can children speak at this age at all? I’m sorry, I have no experience with kids, so, I’m like what age is it?
So they can, you know, repeat after the teacher, you can form their pronunciation a little bit, but sometimes it’s, it doesn’t make sense because they don’t speak Chinese almost at all. And parents try to teach them some English, so it’s kind of…
This is confusing, it’s confusing. I mean, maybe, I think I’m right in saying that in Scandinavia they start introducing kids to education at later age because they don’t see the point in teaching little kids information that they’re gonna forget anyway.
I think this is how parents act when they want to have bilingual children. But also it’s a little bit difficult to have in China I guess, because English is not spoken everywhere, if we compare it to Scandinavia for example where English is on tv, it’s everywhere. So wow, 2.5, it’s such a little baby.
I mean, yeah, it’s mostly for, you know… A little bit also to show off because they can say oh, my kid, for example, is learning English, so he or she can actually speak English. Which is funny of course, they can’t speak English at all, but still. And parents are ready to give any money to put any effort in that, just, yeah.
Okay, and what about difficulties?
I think… I don’t know actually. Again, probably that in terms of, you know, when you work in China, so they really demand a lot from you. So they… Because again, they have to pay a lot of money for, like, you know, to take you to China, to make all these documents, so they spend a lot of money on that.
So and they want you to pay off.
Ben, what about you? Have you faced any difficulties working?
Working, let me just think. I mean, I worked most of my life in the UK and mostly in the US too. I’d say in the UK you have generally speaking like a one month holiday, so 4 weeks, maybe 3 weeks holiday. In the states you are lucky to get a week.
It’s insane how much they work there. Yeah, when I went to Vegas I worked in a hotel on a Las Vegas strip, which is the big road in the middle of Las Vegas and yeah, you can work a lot of hours there. The work culture in America is very very heavy. I mean, maybe it is kinda similar to, well, not similar, but comparable to China where people work in factories sometimes for up to a 16-hour days.
Which is insane. But in the US people work very hard too. In the UK it’s a little but more relaxed, I mean, people still work hard, but it’s more relaxed. Whereas in Scandinavia and maybe in Germany I think there is a much more relaxed work culture. Also in the states you also have to also think about your health insurance and you have to think about all these other things.
So it’s a lot to think about in America. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love America, it’s such a fun place, and yeah, it really is a pleasure living out there. But at the same time it can be a huge headache. Cause you’ve probably experienced yourself.
I was going to ask you about taxes, because when you start working, inevitably, you have to deal with taxes. And for me this is, this was one of the biggest difficulties. Well, still is, whici is dealing with taxes cause in there you have to file them yourself, on your own, there’s no one to help you.
Well, unless you actually go to a lawyer and pay somebody to deal with it. Which I didn’t, because, you know, it’s still too expensive. So and that was so hard to get through this bureaucracy. Compared to that health insurance was, you know, nothing. It was so easy, but yeah, the taxes system was the most difficult moment for me.
Yeah, it’s so distraught in America how you have the state tax, the federal taxes, and the local taxes too, it’s just so much to contemplate. In the UK you have council tax and then you have just general income tax, so I guess it’s divided too in the UK, but in the US it’s just more of a headache from my experience.
I feel it’s also, you know, more of a headache when you are a foreigner, so you have not been familiar with the system, you know, through your life. But you’ve just come here and now you have to deal with it on your own.
I have also noticed one thing that I missed when I was in the US compared to Russia. So in Russia when you teach at a school you have some kind of a common place where all teachers can gather, you can have a chat, so you, you know, just have a friendly talk, get distracted from..
Yeah like a staff room, yeah yeah.
Yeah. But in the US where I was co-teaching and I was an assistant at universities and in there I have noticed that there was never a staff room. So each professor has their own office and they’re there.
So if you want to talk to someone you have to o to their office, hope that they have time or energy or wish to speak to you. And usually no one does. So usually they’re at their office during their office hours which are for their students.
Which means that you are kind of alone in there, so you don’t have… You can only chat to your colleagues during some events maybe. But that’s it. And I missed this communication.
Yeah comradery. When I was working in Vegas, luckily, we had this huge staff room and this huge staff canteen. And it was really cool because at the hotel that I was working at, they gave you unlimited food. So at lunchtime I would literally go crazy on the burgers and everything else.
But yeah, that was a cool part of working there. So at least they had a staff room there. But I think maybe referring to, like, educational institutions perhaps it’s much more divided I guess. Yeah, divided, whereby there’s no staff room, there’s no common area.
Well, that’s funny because every country where I’ve worked there was always a staff room.
Yeah, because in Asia again, they like gathering together, they like talking, they like communicating all the time, having meals together. It’s like one of the, I don’t know, the most important things they have.
That sounds amazing. That’s what I miss, that’s what I miss, really. Alright, and what about accommodation? So where did you live when you were in these countries? And how did you find this accommodation?
Actually I was lucky here also because all the countries actually where I came, so accommodation was pre-arranged, so yeah.
You didn’t have to, you know…
Yeah, I didn’t have to actually look for it.
And then be scared that it wouldn’t be the same in real life as in pictures.
Just once I was like looking for an apartment once. It was in Thailand and I just wanted to improve living conditions, you know. So I just looked around, I walked around the city and I saw several condos, so I just walked in and asked if they have any, I don’t know, flats to rent. So, that’s it.
So and were you able to rent a flat?
So what do you have to provide when you are renting an apartment?
So passport, and sometimes they ask for some, you know, insurance, yeah, medical insurance also, and that’s it I think.
Do they ask for medical insurance in case you trip and fall in the apartment and sue the landlord or something?
I don’t know really, probably for that.
Oh yeah, they also asked for a working contract, so I’m not gonna go away any moment.
So in general you can say that it was much pain in the neck?
Oh that’s fantastic. Ben, and what about you? Where did you live?
Well so, so when I was at university, it was pretty easy finding the accommodation there. So when I went to Krasnodar, as I think I mentioned previously, I stayed at an общежитие, which is a dormitory.
Can you tell us more about that? What did it feel like?
Oh god I loved it. I loved it and there were some horrible bits to it as well, so… As everyone… My favorite bit was when they shut off the hot water in the summer as is a normal thing here in Russia I think.
So you have two weeks where thereby there is no hot water at all, so we all just shared this.. We didn’t have a proper shower, we had this hose in a room. And so we just had to use this hose and the kitchen was an absolute mess. Oh god, that was so horrible, there was cockroaches everywhere.
And it was just… It was… And apparently we had the nicest kitchen. So the dormitory where we had, I think, 15 floors and apparently our kitchen was the best kitchen.
Well, you know, in dormitories they set the bar really low for this.
Yeah. And it was quite funny cause they banned any alcoholic drinks inside the building.
As if that ever stopped anyone but go on.
Yeah. And at the entrance you’d have two охранники, so the security guards, so you’d always have to sneak in any bottles or anything.
Yeah, you don’t want them to be confiscated.
Exactly. And they took their job very seriously. So it was fun. A few times I had beer confiscated.
Oh my goodness. You know, during my second year in the US I was living in a dorm, and it was a lovely place. It was mostly singles, then some doubles, and very rarely there was a triple room. And I loved how everyone was complaining – they said oh, you know, on our floor there are two bathrooms, one big, one small, so we… well, my part of the dorm had….
Of the floor actually, had a little bathroom which means two shower stalls, two toilets. And people were complaining. And I’m like okay look, let me tell you what a dorm is like in Russia at university where I studied. So compared to that this is a luxurious place.
So you know, when you have 20 shower stalls, so, you know, 10-10 facing each other, but with no curtains, no doors. You’re like love it. Amazing. So you… If you feel, well, you always feel uncomfortable in these conditions I feel.
What is it like… Is Russian university culture wild? Because in America, well, definitely in England, it’s absolutely wild.
People are absolutely insane.
You know how we see in movies how people party. I used to see that in movies and then I started teaching at an American university where every time there was a party at our college, people from MIT were also allowed to come, so every time we, well, the students had bets –
how many times the ambulance is gonna come for somebody who’s a first year and doesn’t know how to drink? In Russia I have never seen such wild parties.
Yeah, cause I didn’t get that. I didn’t see that when I was living in the общежитие – everyone was a very good student, everyone was… Well of course people had some small little parties and gatherings.
Yeah, it’s like you and your friends, 4-5-6- people, but it’s never wild.
Never anything like that.
Yeah people in Russia appreciate, well, from what I saw at least, they appreciate the education they have and they go. So in England the first year is called the fresher’s year, and I think it’s the same in America too. And it’s just a mess, it’s just an absolute mess.
Well, because in there, well, the first year’s – they are 17-18, they’ve always lived with their parents and then they’re going away.
Yeah, they get the freedom.
And so they feel the freedom, they start drinking, but the thing is that they don’t know how to. And I remember we talked about this with Mike and Ken in our podcast with alcohol and I told them that first year’s do not know how to. And then, you know, they are just taken to hospitals, they miss the classes because of that just because they don’t know to. No, I don’t think it is like that in Russia. I feel it’s relatively calm.
Especially the first year.
They go to clubs, drink there, but not as much.
I think we have the opposite thing, which is – first year students are always the most hard-working ones.
Cause that’s the first years, they need to have a good reputation among the professors. They need to prove that, you know, they’re worth it. And then the further it is in the, you know…
In your fifth year you’re like…
Cause in England in your last year you’re just studying, you just want to get that good grade and… yeah.
It’s exactly the opposite.
Oh my god, that’s so interesting, so interesting. So Ben, what about the US? I actually had a question about Vegas, cause when I was there I had a feeling that wherever you look is a hotel.
So what about your accommodation? So where did you live? How did you find it?
So I lived not too far from the Strip, the big road in the middle of Las Vegas. And it was mostly a residential area, but it was 2 miles away from the Strip, so Vegas itself is actually quite a nice… It’s pretty nice town, it just gets so hot in the summer. It gets like filthy hot.
Like 45 degrees Celsius sometimes, it’s so hot. But I found an apartment 2 miles away from work, so it was like 3.5 km, something like that. So sometimes I rode my bike to work. But it was a little bit of a struggle at first, because even though my mom’s American, and I’m technically an American citizen, I never really lived in America. And I wasn’t used to how things were about. I didn’t have a credit history, so to get…
That’s what I wanted to talk about.
Exactly. So to get an apartment, you get to get a credit history, and of course I didn’t have one, so I had to, yeah I had to ask old employers for references for an apartment. And I had to sleep out in the car for a few days as I was getting an apartment, so that was that.
But it was a fun experience, because I was driving around, enjoying it. It wasn’t too bad, but yeah. Sleeping in the car was quite a funny experience, yeah.
This is what annoys me so much. So the thing is that, and I’ve noticed that to be able to rent an apartment you need to prove that you have a good credit score. But, for example, I have been in the US for 2.5 years, I have my debit card, but I’ve never had a credit card in my entire life.
So and the thing is that in this case I can’t rent an apartment. And if I try to explain that look, I don’t need a credit card, cause if I can handle my money, I can save, I don’t need a credit card. No, that’s never a good explanation, so it’s never good enough.
So they think – is that true that you handle your money that well? What if you’re hiding something? How? It’s… So some people, I know that some people, in order to get a credit score, they use their credit card instead of using their debit card, and then and then at the end of the week they just kind of reimburse.
Yeah, that’s what I did, that’s what I did, because… Like yourself I never had a credit card before, and I was so nervous when I first had this credit card, cause I thought – what if I’d miss like a little bit of information in the terms and conditions?
And the thing is that sometimes it can be a slippery slope – you think okay, I’m just gonna use my credit card, but then the debt becomes like bigger and bigger.
Yeah, it snowballs out. Yeah, so you need a credit history in America or else you’re in trouble. So a good credit score in America is something like 740-730.
So you’re okay, you’ll be able to rend an apartment fairly easily if you have that kind of a credit score, but it takes like at least a year to get to that point. So if you don’t have a credit score and you’re moving to America, just get some references.
This is what I’m a little bit afraid of – I mean, I don’t have, just like with you Natasha, I didn’t have any problems because my accommodation was pre-arranged. So the first year I was renting a room, but my supervisor was the one who had worked with my landlord for like 6 years before I came there, so there was not a problem.
Well, with the renting, there were hell of a lot of problems with the house itself, but. And then the next year I was living in a dorm, and then the year after I was living in a.. what’s that? A faculty housing or something. That’s the whole house for people who have come from different countries or different states.
So again, I didn’t have to worry about that. But I know that at some point I might want to stay in the country and find an apartment, and that’s when it’s gonna be difficult. So I need to start working towards that credit score I guess.
Well, and there’s another thing. Maybe you’ve had a different experience, but I’ve heard well, I’ve seen it’s slightly easier for women to find an apartment, because there’s a lot of listing online for women only, women only.
So cause, I guess… I don’t know if landlords think that men are pigs or something I don’t know. But I’ve seen in my experience, in Italy and in the States is that there’s a lot of adverts for female only, room to rend only for women.
You never see ‘only men’. I mean, very rarely do you see that.
I wonder why it is like that.
Maybe cause the women actually live in that apartment and its more convenient for them to.
Yeah, it’s actually that, yeah, they don’t want to live with some strange guy who they meet on the internet or something.
So and what about public services? So police, hospitals, post offices. Have you had any experience with those? And if so, what was it like?
I mean, yeah, of course I’ve had such experience in all the countries actually, except for Scotland probably. And…
With police and hospitals?
Were you arrested at the pub?
No, I haven’t had such experience of course, yeah. I mean, I was speaking about hospitals, yeah. So, and in Indonesia, in Thailand, and yeah, where else? In China actually as well, yeah, I had to go to hospitals for different reasons. And they were pretty fine.
Of course, it’s like in Russia – if you go to a public hospital, it’s gonna be a little bit messier, it’s gonna be a little bit dirtier even. But the service is pretty good. What surprised me actually was that doctors in hospitals in Thailand were able actually to speak English, pretty good English. I’m not sure if, like, in Russia many doctors in public hospitals can speak English.
No. Judging by the experience when we had a Fulbrighter here and he needed some help with the documents to be able to run in the marathon – they don’t. So which is a problem. But wait. So is there free health care then in China and in Thailand and in Indonesia or did you have to?
There is, but not for me.
But you had a health insurance?
Yeah, of course I had. But I still had to pay for it.
So was it… So for example, I know that in the US when health insurance covers something, you still need to pay some kind of a.. what is it, co-pay.
A deductible, or a co-pay, yeah.
No, no, no. Nothing like that. So insurance can cover all of it or again, if you go to the private hospitals you have to pay on your own. Yeah, yourself.
Oh, that’s interesting. So it’s only working for the…
Exactly, yeah. There was, like, a situation – so I was bitten by a cat, so I decided that it was kinda dangerous, so it was in Thailand.
Yeah, exactly. That’s a problem. I had to get the rabies injections, and in Russia again, you go to hospital, it’s free of course for citizens especially. But in there you had to pay quite a lot of money. I mean, not a lot a lot, but still. And there were like 5 injections, so yeah. And it was interesting experience, actually, I’d say.
I wish you didn’t have this interesting experience, but yeah.
At least I have something to speak about. That’s good.
Hospitals? I’m just trying to think. I’ve been pretty healthy generally speaking. Hospital… I went on a holiday to Croatia and didn’t feel very good and had to pay. Well, obviously you have to pay money out there, so I got a chest infection, which was pretty horrible.
And at the time I was a smoker, which is a silly thing to do. Don’t smoke people. And yeah, I had to pay. It wasn’t that much, it was about 30 pounds worth, so what’s 30 pounds? I mean 30 pounds back then would’ve been much less in ruble equivalent.
Oh, I have a story about hospitals.
So the thing is that once… Alright, so one thing you guys need to know about the US system – if you’re ever in the US, you feel horrible, there’s going on, but it’s not a car crash or something like that, never call an ambulance! Ever in your life!
That’s what I told my friends, you know, who were with me. Never call an ambulance, you better uber my ass to the hospital, but never call an ambulance cause the bill after that can be up to 5 thousand dollars for the wee-woo-wee-woo car to take you there.
Because it’s the US I guess, this is the only explanation. I honestly do not know. And the thing is that it can be covered by the insurance, but you never know which company runs the ambulance that comes to take you. So and once my friends had to take me to the ER, to the emergency room because I had a fear that I had a dislocation in my jaw, a jaw dislocation.
What happened to your jaw?
That’s another story that I’d rather not tell, but the thing is that. Okay, so you know this feeling when you are eating something, especially when it’s something like a burger, so and you have to open your mouth really wide and it can, well, with some people it can click and you can’t really close it.
So and I had this horrible pain, I was crying, I could not really close my mouth, so it was like click.
So you just had an open mouth for…
Well basically at some point I was able to close it and open it, but it was a horrible pain, so I thought what I dislocated it? You know, things happen. So my friends took me to the ER. They got my information, they had… Well, I had an X-ray, they gave me something like Tylenol and a bill for $1000.
Yeah, never in my life had I had a Tylenol that expensive. But the thing is that, what was interesting for me is that at some point the nurse and the doctor they asked my friends out, so and then they asked me – was there any violence involved? Should we call the police?
I’m like no no no, that’s okay. There was no violence, everything’s fine. They were like are you sure about this? I said yes, absolutely. Two days later I got a call from the hospital, and I picked up the phone and they said Katerina hello, this is Massachusetts general hospital, we are calling to ask about your condition.
I said thank you, it’s very nice, I’m okay. Do you still stick and stand by what you said that there was no violence? Do you want us to call the police? I said no, well, no, it’s fine. And that was something surprising for me, cause in Russia even if you want to file, you know, a report for domestic violence, you’ll never be able to do that.
Well, that’s really nice actually.
And the thing is that that one visit. The consequences I would say lasted for half a year when I had the bill. The next bill was for 1100, and I said excuse you? So I had to call the hospital, by the time I did that I had another bill for 1200 this time.
So I had to call and say hey you, I have an insurance, you know, which is pretty good insurance. They said oh, but we can’t find your information. I’m like oh, how unfortunate for you! So here it is again, so I had to send it to them again and again.
By the time they actually got the information my bill was 1500, but since I had the insurance, the insurance company covered all of it, so I only had to pay the co-pay which was $50 for the visit to the ER. It is, well, a necessary payment when you go to the ER. But yeah.
My only visit to a hospital hospital, to the ER.
I should’ve called a little…. My brother, he lives in Los Angeles and he is like myself, he was brought up in the UK and he was, yeah, he was in Los Angeles and he played football every weekend. Or soccer as they call it in America. They played football every weekend and he injured his knee somehow.
He went to the, not to the ER, but just to a general practitioner, just to a normal doctor. And yeah, he thought it wouldn’t cost much, he thought it would be just 50 bucks or something like, that, just to check the knee, to use a little… What is it called? The hammer? A little hammer, whatever the instrument’s called. And he got a bill for 800 bucks.
Welcome to the United States.
Better not get sick over there, that’s true. So have you had any other interesting stories, situations with any of the services?
Cause if not, I can tell you stories how I called 911 twice.
Tell us, please, tell us.
Well, to our listeners – if you want to listen to the first one in detail, listen to the podcast about domestic difficulties, cause that was a problem with the pipes. The second one was actually this, well, not this spring, but spring 2020. So when the quarantine, you know, started.
At some point I smelled gas, so and that sometimes happens when you have a gas stove and you cook. So after that I just used to, you know, open my windows and that was fine. So I did the same thing – I opened my windows, I went to sleep. I woke up 4 hours later, it was 6 am, or 5 or 6am and the smell of gas was still there and I realized that I was feeling sick, so I was very nauseous.
So I decided that it was not a good sign. I went outside and I live in a 12 apartment house, so there was no smell of gas in most of my apartment, there was no smell of gas outside, in the corridor or something. So I went outside, I called 911, cause I didn’t know who else to call at 6am or what services I need.
And I said hi, and I loved that they were very polite and very calm. They asked me what’s your emergency and I said I don’t know who else to call, but there is a very strong smell of gas in my apartment. So they said don’t worry, just give us your address, you know, the fire department will be there shortly.
Five minutes later I had two fire trucks outside of the house and they came in and they said you’re absolutely right, there was a gas leak. So but since it’s an old house, the, you know, the gas contro or something was not in the apartment but somewhere the basement and they didn’t know where.
So they had to call the university services, ask somebody from there to come to the house, you know, switch it off, deal with it. What surprised me is that all that took 40 minutes, 40 minutes later they were gone, everything was okay. Yeah, so I had a very good experience with 911.
And they didn’t charge you.
Yeah. I had a crazy, a few crazy stories in America. So there was… When I was living in Vegas, right next to my apartment I lived next to this flood channel. Do you know what a flood channel is?
Alright, inside the flood channel there is a network of tunnels and a lot of homeless people live in these tunnels. And one morning I was just sitting in my apartment and I just saw all the smoke coming out of the flood channel.
And then I just saw, yeah, so I saw the smoke coming out from where local homeless people live and I just called the fire brigade, cause I thought god, there’s probably someone like burning in there or something.
And the fire brigade came and they looked at me like this happens all the time, like, you didn’t need to call us. And I said the smoke was intense… it was the biggest… It wasn’t the like barbecue smoke, but it was huge, it was like a huge smoke cloud. And then maybe some people could’ve been dying in there, and they said yeah, they always make fires down there, that’s just what they do.
Oh my goodness! I would freak out!
00:49:54 N: Yeah of course.
There’s a lot of homeless people in there. It is sad, but yeah. If you live in Vegas, in Los Angeles, you’re gonna encounter a lot of crazy crazy people everywhere.
Same with San Francisco. I remember I was shocked by the amount of homeless people, and at some point I was walking down some street, saw things I wish I could unsee of course. But on some small street I counted 22 people just you know, homeless people, on the ground.
The same is in Scotland actually, I was surprised.
Cause you wouldn’t expect, because the climate is not that..
Exactly, exactly. They just, you know, have a lot of clothes on them, and they just sit there, asking for money. In Thailand, on the other hand, there weren’t any. There was one beggar actually, he lived just next to my apartment and he was just always there, sleeping, relaxing.
So you were going by like hello there, how’s your day.
Something like this. So and he was like, you know, a usual person there I’d say. So he was always there and people kind of, you know, got used to him, but just one. Just one person for like the entire year there. But in Scotland – every corner there was a beggar.
It was really surprising, shocking.
I would not expect that, I wouldn’t.
I’ve got another little quick story. So I was sitting in my apartment in Vegas once, after.. Actually, before work and I heard this water flowing form somewhere, and I thought oh god…
Yeah. And I thought oh god, is there a pipe burst or something, it was coming from right outside my patio, right outside my apartment. And I just went straight to the door, looked outside the door, yeah, the little door view I think, and there was this lady peeing on my door.
I would say that I am shocked and horrified, but also this is Vegas, so…
And so there was this homeless lady and I opened the door and…
Are you sure you wanted to open the door that she was peeing on?
I didn’t know she was peeing at first. So I opened the door and I realized she’s peeing.
Oh my god. So what did you do? Did you say something to her?
To be honest, I couldn’t stop laughing. And I was like get out of there.
It was so disgusting but it was so funny too. Yeah. I mean, I’m not gonna beat up the woman. It was crazy.
I guess you can write a book about living in Vegas if you live there long enough.
You see a lot of funny stuff, yeah.
I’m kinda curious now, you know, to go there. To actually see.
It’s like a human safari.
Yeah, especially after the sun goes down, you know.
Alright. I also have a question, I think it’s mostly… No actually, it’s to both of you. But what about food? Was there anything surprising or did you have to you know, did you have any difficulty getting used to the local food?
Oh yeah, definitely. So when I first came to Indonesia actually, I wasn’t used to eating spicy food. I mean most Russians don’t usually eat a lot of spicy food. And every dish was like extremely spicy to me. I couldn’t eat anything, seriously. But eventually I got used to it. So now I like…
Seriously? You can get used to spicy food?
Yeah, I don’t know if you burn out…
Taste buds, you don’t have them anymore, by the end of the month…
Yeah. But now I love spicy, so it’s like… And in China it was different. So they also like spicy food but I was used to that at that time already. But they add a lot of chemicals to food, and every time I ate anything. So for example, I ordered some kind of a soup still I felt bad after that. I could have stomachache, I could have, I don’t know, heartburn, I could have…
Something like that, yeah. They still add a lot of seafood there, a lot of vegetables. But still. I don’t know, maybe it was just my reaction.
I think it’s called MSG. Mono sodium glutamate, something like that.
Yeah, to make the taste more intense, yeah.
But I mean, we have the sodium glutamate added to a lot of things here as well, but maybe not to that extent, or maybe it has some kind of a different structure. Oh my goodness.
Yeah, so I still ate at cafes, but I preferred to cook something on my own, soups, just broccoli, you know, something like that.
So did you cook mostly something that you’re familiar with then?
In the end of, like, my time there, yeah, I was just cooking on my own, myself.
Ben what about you and your time in Russia and Italy?
Well so far all I’ve eaten is pelmeni every day.
No I love pelmeni, it’s kinda hard to get sick of them, they’re great, I love them. What else? Pelmeni.
You know it’s funny how you come to Russia and all the food that people like, I mean, we Russians like a lot, well, unless you’re a vegetarian is you say to people it’s pelmeni. What is it? Oh it’s dough and meat inside. Then we have манты.
What is it? Oh it’s dough and meat inside. And then we have самса, чебурек, what else? Беляш. And everything is dough and meat.
Well you can’t mess up… You can’t do anything wrong with dough and meat.
It’s kinda like eggs and bread in America and in England.
There are so many different combinations.
So when you were in Russia, did you cook or did you go out and eat?
You’re talking when I was in Krasnodar previously?
Well, to be honest now, I have… Yeah I’ve been out to a few places, I went to have some Asian food I’ve tried here. And the first time I was in Russia that was, yeah, I ate actually a lot of… I think it was Muslim cuisine, because Krasnodar is not too far from the Caucasus and they have halal, a lot of halal dishes around there.
So a lot of things in wraps, a lot of things in… A lot of chicken and rice. That was actually really good to have a lot of good chicken and rice. Now just pelmeni. Wake up – pelmeni, sleep – pelmeni.
But I’m sure you’ve tasted borsh.
Yeah, borsh, I love borsh.
Kinda takes too long to cook though.
It takes some time, yeah.
I cooked some in Thailand. I love Thai food, it’s really good, like seriously, I love it. But sometimes you miss Russian food. Obviously, and I just bought some beetroot, some meat and I just cooked some. Then I invited some Russian friends over and we just enjoyed it so much.
I remember when I… So when I was in the US for the first year I was on a program, Fulbright, so I got a Fulbright grant, so 35 of us were in different states, teaching Russian as a foreign language and the thing is that so many other people were missing Russian food.
They were like guys, I miss buckwheat, I miss pelmeni, things like that. And they asked me don’t you miss Russian food? And I said look I live in Massachusetts where there are so many Russians and I have 4 Russian stores within a 50 mile radius.
So whenever I wanted some Russian food I would just go buy whatever I needed, cause you can find anything in there. Even pastry. So you know the honey cake – it’s there. Pelmeni? What kind of a meat do you want inside? So 15 different varieties! So I never had a problem with that.
Kinda the same in Scotland?
Although they are not Russian shops, but…
Polish shops or Serbian shops or something.
Yeah I love Indian food. In London there’s a lot of great Indian food cause it’s a huge…
You know, our Eastern European brothers and sisters have done it for us. That’s so interesting! But I remember, again, when I was cooking, I was surprised by the variety of vegetables there. I was like what is that? I have never cooked this, I have never eaten this.
And then there were also a couple of Indian shops in the neighborhood so I went there and there were so many vegetables and fruits that I had never heard of before. So I loved this experience.
Same in the US. There is Indian food and there’s white Indian food as they call it. So just a little bit different. Same goes with Thai and Chinese food.
Yeah. It’s hard to find good Thai food. Even in Novosibirsk, although it’s possible of course.
So and what about your free time? So was it, the way that you spend your free time, was it any different from how you would usually spend it in your country?
I think… not in China, in Thailand it was different in terms of I was travelling a lot. Almost every weekend we went somewhere to see, you know.
Am I jealous? No. Am I lying? Yes. Go on.
Yeah, it’s like beautiful views, beautiful scenery. Oh my god, I miss it so much. Also the weather, the climate- it’s my favorite I think. Really. So in China it was a bit different because I lived in a small city and there weren’t like so many foreigners there.
So like once a week on Saturday usually, on Sunday, we gathered together in a club or in a bar to spend time together, so. Lots of drinking usually, because again, a lot of pressure and people usually just had to vent.
Well in London I usually go on my bike a lot, me and my mates always go on our bikes, and we ride all sorts of places. Here in Novosibirsk it’s a little tough.
Yeah. I wanna get a bike. I wanna get a fat bike, it’s one of those bikes that has really fat tires. I love to get one, cause then you can ride in winter too. I’d love to do that. But I wonder what it’s like riding on the road here, if the drivers are used to giving way to cyclist or not.
So that’s why it’s a little bit dangerous here.
But I know some people who actually go everywhere by bike, but they usually try to stay away form the road, because the drivers, I do not know if you have noticed, but drivers in Novosibirsk are pretty aggressive.
And I remember before coming back to Russia I said oh I need to get a driver’s license, so I’m gonna do that in Russia. I came back, I finally you know started to see how aggressive everyone is and I said nope, no, never, never in here. Cause…
Just a quick question – is it legal to ride your bicycle on the pavement here in Russia? Are you allowed to do that?
Yes, yes, but you need to be careful cause there are a lot of people.
But yes, it is absolutely…
Cause in the UK you’re not allowed to do that.
Oh, cause there are special lanes.
Well since we don’t have bike lanes in here, so, where else? It’s either the road, which is dangerous, or the pavements. One of those two. Alright. And I have one last topic to talk about which is culture shock. We’ve kinda mentioned it in a way, so…
So would you say that you had, well, I guess we all had a culture shock, you know, to some extent, but what was it like for you? And how did you deal with it? How did you go through it?
Okay, yeah, I think in Indonesia, like, it wasn’t really culture shock, but it was a bit unpleasant when you walk down the street and on every corner people just cry to you “bule”, which is like foreigner or outlander, stranger. And it’s like, it’s really annoying.
Was it more in a good way, like that they shouted that? Or was it like an insult?
It wasn’t really an insult, but it was kind of, like, you know, so they’ve noticed you.
01:02:51 N: But it was in China actually, but in Indonesia they paid much more attention to me and to like taking me places and so on. And there it was like you know, you go to work, and at least 4 or 5 people yell to you “bule”. Yeah it’s like oh my god. And also they’re like… All of them want to take pictures with you, colleagues, people in the streets, like, everywhere, they want to take pictures.
Exactly, yeah. So you can’t, like, feel at ease at any time.
I’ve heard people who go India. I mean, there’s a lot of beggars out there and people get followed by like crowds of beggars.
And obviously you want to help people, but at the same time you can’t help everyone.
I mean in Indonesia they don’t actually ask for money, they just pay attention to you, lots of attention. And…
No it was just about China, but I’ve already talked about it. Again, there’s this huge Chinese firewall, so you don’t’ get to use Instagram, Facebook, Google even.
Did you have a VPN when you went out there?
Yeah yeah, I knew about it, so I downloaded like 4 or 5 VPNs.
Yeah but only one worked.
I remember I just landed in China and I was trying to, you know, text my parents, texts my friends, that I’m in China, everything’s good. And I was trying to use WhatsApp, and I used VPN, and I tried 4 of them, none of them worked. So just one of them worked and I was like thank god.
It must’ve been so stressful.
Yeah and all the time, again, you feel kind of isolated. So because you don’t’ get to communicate with your friends a lot, and again, this VPN, which worked for me – it didn’t work all the time, so it worked like, I don’t know, in the morning, in the afternoon sometimes. But in the evening it didn’t really work a lot.
So what, if we talk about Asia for a second, so what tips would you give to someone who’s going to teach English there? So how to deal with the culture shock? How to go through this?
I mean if you go to Thailand it’s not a lot of culture shock. People are really nice, people are friendly. So food is pretty good and familiar because people like to eat Thai food in Russia a lot. So Indonesia as well I think it’s fine, but China yeah.
So you need to prepare again, with VPS thing, probably lots of books for you to kill time because you will get a lot of free time. And you probably won’t have a lot of friends at first. So yeah. And yeah, you must have some hobbies, again, to kill time.
Ben, what about you? Have you ever had a culture shock?
Well of course, of course it’s a shock coming to… I mean Russia is a very different place, but I really wanted to be here in the first place, so even though things are very different here, still I’m fascinated by everything and how everything works. When…
Before I arrived here I didn’t know if I was gonna have to find an apartment on my own. Well obviously I have a great assistance with the school, the BigAppleSchool and their assistance has really helped a lot. So I don’t have to dive straight into the deep end. So I don’t have to deal with a landlord or anything like that, so that’s great.
But if I hadn’t had chosen to work at the BigAppleSchool and had chosen instead to work freelance, that might be a little too overwhelming, because I can say a few words in Russian, I can get by in Russian, but I can’t speak it that…
at such a level that you can really negotiate things with a landlord et cetera. So that depends on your workplace and what were you doing. If you already have a prior, like previously organized, some circumstances are not… So yeah, it all depends.
Alright. Do you have any tips for those who are coming to Russia?
For those coming to Russia. Well, of course, dress warm. That goes without saying.
That goes without saying. Just, yeah, just don’t be too worried. It’s not as scary as people make it out to be. People are actually quite friendly. I mean obviously people don’t smile as much as they do in the west, but people are actually really friendly I found. So don’t worry too much, that’s what I’d say.
Yeah, don’t worry too much without a reason to.
Alright. Yeah, I had an interesting experience with the culture shock. So the thing is that before we set off to the US, we had a pre-departure orientation where we were told the following thing. Our supervisor said I know some of you have been to the US, I know you think I speak the language, I won’t have any problem.
But trust me, every single of you is going to have a culture shock. And we said pff, come on, not us, not me. And I was the same dumb person who said, who thought that. And I came to the US, and everything was marvelous.
I could understand everyone, I didn’t have any kind of a language barrier, so what can be the problem? But then 2 or 3 moths in the culture shock started to kick in, I do not know what was the reason. Maybe it was everything at once, the fact that I didn’t have friends. Everyone was friendly, but not friends.
Actually, this is the first time I’m telling this story, wow. So and the thing is that I got into a relationship, I started to dissolve in it, you know, cause I didn’t have anyone else. And in the end it all just went, you know, my mental health went down the hill with the culture shock, because of the culture shock.
So and yeah, and I had to deal with the consequences because I didn’t get help at first, for more than a year. So I had to go into therapy to deal with that. And I do not know what that was. Maybe that all started because of not having friends, feeling lonely, having a different job.
Cause, let’s say, here in Russia I was teaching English I was responsible for the classroom, I was you know, the main person in the classroom basically. In there you have a different job, you are just an assistant.
And then I had to switch from teaching English which I had been doing for 5 years by that time to teaching Russian which I had no experience in. So I think that just all of that, you know, got combined, so.
Yeah and I remember after that when I was at a conference, Fulbright conference, I said to people if you’re going to the US, to work, to teach especially as a Fulbrighter, and I guess that works with any other profession, the main thing for you to remember is never be afraid to ask for help.
So if you start to realize that you get anxious or depressed or something, please reach out. So don’t be dumb like me. So, yeah. Alright.
Well, and I have a question to our listeners now – so if there is a country that you really want to go to, to work or to live, please let us know in the comment section. And if you have had such an experience, also please share!
We would like to hear your stories as well and to talk a little bit about it, cause it’s always, you know, always a fun topic to talk about. Well, alright, and that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed living and working in different countries.
We talked about all different aspects of it, such as difficulties, culture shock, food, hobbies, free time, finding an apartment, crazy stories and our experience with hospitals and 911 in my case.
Well thank you for listening and remember if you struggle to understand our conversation you are always to our website which is Bigappleschool.com/podcast where you can find full scripts of each episodes. So you can read it while listening. Cool, right?
Also if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on the social media such as Instagram, VK, Youtube, Telegram and so on. Just search our name, which is again BigAppleSchool. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around!
Yeah and in Scotland, in Edinburgh at least.