Have you ever got a letter from Kaliningrad in Russia? No, I guessed so. This is the first time I write a letter in English since I came here in February. The Swedish Institute needed two guest lecturers at Kaliningrad State University for this spring term and even for next year, so I applied and got the job. It is the same as what I had in Vilnius for 7 years. One year as retired was enough for me!
Swedes are very rare here in K-grad. I am lucky to have a colleague, Fredrik from Lund, 32 years old, to talk and cooperate with. We get on very well together and I think it is good for the students to have two so different teachers. Swedish is the only Scandinavian language taught here, so we share department with English language. Neither Fredrik and I speak Russian, but of course we have to pick up some words, enough for shopping and eating out.
In Sweden people think that K-grad, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania, is a terrible and dangerous place to live in. Quite opposite! The nature is beautiful, the city (1/2 million inhab) full of trees and parks, the people well-dressed and friendly. We have got modern and comfortable flats right in the centre. The only danger here is the traffic! Still I use my car almost every day and I have been lucky so far. The Russian drivers drive too fast, overtake and change lines in the most impossible way, poor pedestrians have to run for their lives.
Some 40 students study Swedish and they are very nice to work with., These days 20 of them have got invitations from Swedish schools for next term to study there, some for the whole year, some for one month. Both of us two guest lecturers have decided to stay even next year and we will have a new group of beginners. The job is not too hard, so we think we live a good life here with a lot of free time, when we do sight-seeing, go to concerts and visit all the good restaurants. For us everything is very cheap, 100 USD = 2 800 Rubles. You get a full dinner at the best restaurant for 10 dollars. But for the Russians it is terribly expensive. My landlady has told me that her pension next year will be 700 Rbls, 400 is her monthly rent and 300 is impossible to live on. Now she works as a teacher of English and has to work double time with private lessons as much as possible. In her garden she has all sorts of berries and fruits, so she brings me cans every second week, when she comes for cleaning my flat! I feel much privileged!
Beginning of June I’ll leave for Sweden, summer holidays for three months! Nearest way from here is following the coast up to Klaipeda in Lithuania, where there is a ferry to Stockholm. That way goes on the narrow piece of land outside the big lagoon, half of it belongs to Russia and the northern part to Lithuania. See enclosure! The distance is only 140 km.