I made the life changing decision to accept an exciting new role as a Governess in Moscow in November 2012. Previous to this, I had tutored children in English, was a part time Nanny during my University studies. l was also a football coach for boys and girls between the ages of 8-15. I was a keen footballer myself for many years and felt that passing on my knowledge and skills was one of the most rewarding things I could do.
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After University I secured jobs in Sales and Marketing, firstly for a kitchen and bedrooms company where I was quickly promoted to a managerial role based on my ability to train and motivate others (a teacher they called me). After that I was headhunted by a company who sold solar panels, they had been made aware of me by a previous colleague of mine and wanted me to train and develop their staff in a call center, managing over 40 individuals, ages ranging between 17-45. I concentrated on training, motivation and objection handling, but for me the most important part of the job was seeing people learn, watching their strengths grow and seeing the pride in their eyes when they started achieving results they had previously thought as just impossible targets. The problem in my opinion in many working environments is that people are promised guidance, support and training, yet in reality, in a busy, fast paced and driven environment, the likelihood of this happening isn’t always realistic. It was the most wonderful feeling to see people motivated and achieving their targets, but unfortunately, and beyond my own control, the higher management didn’t show such respect to their employees, those people doing their best to meet their targets, regardless of the obstacles in front of them. Those obstacles at times in such environments can be difficult to accept, especially when under constant and daily pressure to achieve the same results. As much as I appreciated and tried to applaud their efforts, my management wouldn’t accept anything less than perfection. This is something I do understand, as I strive for perfection in everything I do, however this was on a different level.
I soon realised the things that made me happy and that this was not the path or career I needed to be in. No matter how good I was at sales or marketing or how well I was able to train or make my team feel there was always somebody who implemented negativity within the team spirit I spent so much time investing in. Suddenly it was clear. I was a teacher, a tutor, a coach even. I loved seeing people exceed their own expectations of themselves. I loved the smile on their faces when they did so and the thanks I reviewed as a result of those achievements. I started to question what would make me happy, how could I keep this feeling of pride consistent in the people I invested time in? Nothing compared to that.
As I came to this realisation it was all very clear. Yes, I loved being a Tutor, something I did alongside my day job. Yes, I loved coaching football to children, again something I carried out during the evenings. Yes, I loved being a Nanny to the children I cared for whilst at University. I’ve always had a strong interest in foreign languages. Coming from a Greek family and being half Scottish I realised the importance of being bilingual at an early age, however being the child from a mixed background in my family I was teased for not being bilingual by the age of three because my parents split up and my Greek Father moved out. My cousins who were my age would make fun of my accent at times and I became very shy regarding my own ability in learning a foreign language. Even Greek school, which I attended at weekends much to my displeasure due to my lack of confidence in speaking, was difficult. All the other children in my class already had a good command of the language whilst I sat there trying to comprehend new vocabulary.
With all this in mind I decided that teaching English as a foreign language would be the most amazing and rewarding job opportunity for me. A combination of my skills and need to help others, in an environment that would allow me to sleep at night knowing I’ve made a positive difference to another person’s life, all without the complications of sales targets and commissions.
At this point I quit my job immediately and enrolled on a teaching English as a foreign language course, otherwise known as TEFL. I completed a 120 hour TEFL course which combined online and classroom learning and began to look into my different options in working abroad, as travel is something that is very close to my heart. Once looking at the options and weighing up the benefits, I realised that Moscow, Russia, was the place I wanted to make a difference. I began applying for jobs through different agencies and fortunately found a wonderful family who I am still working with to date. The children’s level of English was absolute beginner when I arrived and they are now nearly fluent. I feel so proud of what we have achieved together and amazed at how quickly they have learnt the language due to having a Governess with them full time. Their ability to learn and withhold new information never ceases to amaze me, as well as the way they have a true love for the English language now and understand it’s importance for them as they move towards the possibility of acceptance into American/British schools. Although it wasn’t their choice, they are grateful that they have been given the opportunity to learn a new language at such a young age. One of the children I teach often talks English in his sleep, that was an extremely proud and heart warming moment for me as his educator, knowing that even his subconscious is thinking in English!
As a Governess you develop a wonderful and fun relationship with the children you care for and it’s a job role that is incomparable in my opinion. You are able to give so much and gain such a sense of accomplishment in return. Even though the children I teach speak very good English now, they continue every day to obtain new vocabulary and fun English sayings and expressions. On an average day we play games, ranging from board games, hide and seek, football, tennis and arts and crafts. I often take the boys outside and work on their football skills, which I must admit, to begin with was really quite funny! Many stares from people passing by, confused that a girl was able to train boys how to play football, but now it’s accepted, respected and perhaps even admired. We have sit down lessons during which we work on all the different aspects of their English language, so that they are constantly improving and perfecting their English.
Thinking about being a governess in Moscow?
Moving to Russia was a brave yet scary decision, however one I am so happy I made. I am so fortunate to have made such a wonderful life here for multiple reasons. I love my job, the job satisfaction and the elements of travel involved, who doesn’t want a job that takes them on beautiful trips around the world to some of the most stunning destinations worldwide? I love the fact I am in an amazing city that never fails to surprise me with its magic. I have made an amazing group of friends from all over the world, locations including; England, America, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Russia, Italy…the social and expat community here is so diverse and entertaining. Everyone is so broad minded and I suppose makes an extra special effort with new people because they have made the big move themselves and understand the huge decision each and every one of us made by moving abroad. Alongside this I have met many Russian individuals who have been so kind and welcoming as well as very complimentary towards what I do as a job. Learning English in Russia at a young age and alongside their Russian studies is becoming very sought after indeed.
Socially I have a wonderful time here too, my days off are almost always filled with memories and joy. Without sounding too cliché, there is some sort of happiness or entertainment to be found in Moscow for everyone and all year round. Something about Moscow that all people should know is that a huge effort is made for the public to enjoy themselves. In the winter my friends and I are able to enjoy skiing or the most amazing skating rinks you have ever set eyes on. The restaurants are endless and the nightlife is so much fun! There is an amazing history and culture here with so many wonderfully interesting museums, statues and monuments. Moscow truly is a city that is very much alive, it disperses a wonderful and vibrant energy that is incomparable to any other I have visited (I cannot believe I am saying this publicly as a Londoner!) but that is the simple and beautiful truth. Living and working in Moscow has opened my mind to a host of adventures and I couldn’t recommend a more feel good place to be, as long as you feel you are brave enough to ‘Survive a Russian winter’ – I’m looking forward to my third and I can’t wait!
Is there anything you’re thinking of changing?
Perhaps you’ve come across some of our job vacancies and wondered what working for a high profile family. Whilst the customs and expectations of each private household differ somewhat, there are some key cues to jot down in your nanny notebook ahead of starting a new position.
Teaching children an attitude of gratitude involves helping them to view their reality from a perspective of appreciation and abundance. If we are able to nurture this skill within the mind-set of children from a young age their quality of life will forever be enriched.
Drawing is an especially important outlet for children who do not yet have the verbal skills to communicate their feelings. Through your child’s art you are able to catch a glimpse into their rich internal world whilst conversely they are able to develop concentration, thought-processing and motor skills.