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Team Катюша - TAC 2014 - TEAM THREAD

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
464 messages over 58 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 49 ... 57 58 Next >>
Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3817 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 385 of 464
10 August 2014 at 9:09am | IP Logged 


BURNING TIRES, MOJITO YOGHOURTS AND OAT MEAL PORRIDGE AT MCDONALD'S

Boy. My life spins so fast at the moment, I am almost getting motion sickness, and it is really unpredictable
which situations a language interest may bring you into. Right now I am stuck in an apartment with no
working toilet and where there were riots with burning tires just 100 meters away 48 hours ago.

After Norway having been under threat from Islamist terrorists for the last week, and the unprecedented sight
of armed police on Norwegian streets, I left the country. For Ukraine. I'll be in Kyiv for a month. And for all
those who wonder: No, I do not have a death wish, but I am counting on things being a lot calmer than they
appear in the media. I have even brought my daughter this time. And I am not going anywhere near Eastern
Ukraine. Just in case though, I have brought an extra passport, train tickets for all neighbor countries towards
the west in case my plane will not take off, I will alert my friends in Romania and Poland that I am here , and I
carry two extra credit cards and a lot more cash than I normally do, in both euro, dollars, Norwegian kroner
and Ukrainian griven, so I should be ok.

I have been meaning to write an entry in my log about coming here, but between a lovely visit from Richard
Simcott (Torbyrne), a wonderful visit from Tarvos and those of my Russian friends who were not on vacation,
the heaviest heat wave in the history, my cat getting severely wounded and needing special care and several
visits to the vet, helping a friend who was about to lose her Norwegian citizenship, a two week visit from an
American teenager with ADHD and taking as many Russian classes I could squeeze in while working full time
at the office while my colleagues were on vacation and trying to read and listen to as much Russian as my
brain would allow plus producing staggering amounts of rose jelly - I have been a tad busy...

The visit from Richard Simcott was, as always, an honor and a pleasure. He is not only one of my favorite
polyglots, he is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. We laughed and discussed life, languages,
kids, polyglots and he talked me into going to Novi Sad (I was a total pushover). So I hope more of you are
going! At the moment the only one I know of is Iversen, so I am contemplating just how big of a bear hug he
is going to get when we finally meet :-) I have gotten hold of Pimsleur Croatian and am amazed at how much
I understand just through my Russian, my forgotten Polish and my 11 lessons of Ukrainian. I have listened to
the first 5 lessons, and I think I heard altogether 6-7 words I did not understand. I am not foolish enough to
attempt any active learning, I am aiming for passive knowledge only, but it would be great to understand a
little when I get there.


I have been really, really active with Russian practice lately. I have had between 4-8 private lessons every
week, trying to speak as much as possible. My tutors always want me to do grammar, which I know is a total
exercise in futility, so I get them to speak with me. My Russian is still highly incorrect, but at least I manage to
produce something.

I arrived in Kyiv a week ago, and it feels like my head will explode. I am an A2 plus, so they put me in what
was supposedly an A2/B1 group which included one Norwegian guy who is a high B2, an Italian who is B2 in
speaking (if you do not count grammar, where he is as bad as I am) an amazing German guy of Polish origin
who cannot read or write Russian but who is a C2 in speaking, which he simply picked up on on the streets
from Russian friends, and a French woman who is probably a B2 in grammar and writing, but a low A2 in
speaking.

There are a lot less people here this year, understandably, which is why they have lumped together in one
group all those who are beyond an A2 level. We learn so much vocabulary each day, that I have no chance
to absorb it all, and the grammar goes way over my head. I also have individual classes in the afternoon,
where I thankfully can get help with the grammar I do not understand. I feel I have learned quite a lot in just
this one week though, so I cannot wait to see how much I will have learned in a month.

Our teacher is a tough nail, but she is really, really good, as all the teachers here. When I am willing to walk
into a country which for all practical purposes is at war, bringing my daughter - that speaks volumes about
the service level and quality of teaching at this school. They are beyond amazing.

Otherwise when you are in a foreign country, it is always the little things that amazes you. Yoghurt with mojito
taste, the fact that when you cross the street you can see exactly how many seconds you have left before it
changes to red, and the fabulous feeling when you manage to figure out the menu and order the right things
when the menu is in Ukrainian only. Which I do not speak...

I was not quite prepared for riots though. I live 100 meters from Maidan square, but although the pictures in
the news scared my family to death, and the video of burning tires, and brick stones being thrown at the
police looks scary to me, we have not seen, heard or smelled a thing. According to the news the smell could
be felt all over Kyiv, but I found no one who had felt that, even though the school is also just a few hundred
meters from Maidan.

My teachers are quite vociferous on their lack of support for the people who are still at Maidan, and say that
they should go home now, and on a daily basis there are just 3-4 old people left. It is said that they are there
because they have nowhere else to go, which I suspect is quite close to the truth. We have been to Maidan
every day except the day of the riots though, and it has been a 100% peaceful.

If I am to pinpoint one major change in Kyiv since I was here last, it is that people smile more. On the metro
people used to look into the emptiness with blank faces, but now they speak and laugh more. I have no idea
whether that has anything to the change in the political conditions or is just a coincidence, but it is quite
noteworthy.

One thing that has not changed though, is their willingness to engage to defend others. We were bothered by
a guy at a restaurant the other day, and as soon as the others understood what was going on, they yelled at
him to leave as alone, and one guy was even ready to fight him to help us.

This willingness to engage is something I admire about Ukrainians and Russians alike. I have never figured
out why people have the misconception that Russians are cold. Once you get to know them they are the
warmest, kindest most helpful people you can imagine. Where Norwegians will keep their distance for fear of
intruding, Russians and Ukrainians engage and help you. I really love that about them. Not that there still is
not a fair share of unhelpful people, but most are really kind when you ask for help - or even when you do not
ask for help.

I have used mostly Russian when ordering at restaurants. 90% of the menus are in Russian, and in Kyiv most
people I meet are Russian speakers. There are more and more who use Ukrainian though, so in 10 years
time that might change, but I have only found a couple of places with Ukrainian menus. On the streets the
signs are about half and half I would guess. There was also one restaurant where the waitress spoke to us in
fluent English once we accepted an English menu, so it felt wrong to use Russian with her, but otherwise it is
all in Russian.

I have not quite decided whether to go to Russia or Ukraine if I get the opportunity to go again. On the one
hand I am really, really happy with the school, and I love Ukraine, on the other hand it would of course be
easier if everything around me was in Russian, and I would love to get to know Moscow and its surroundings
better. I also adore St. Petersburg, and would love going back there too. I just wish there was not the visa
hassles. Though as things stand now, I guess it is unlikely to get any easier any time soon.

If I can find a few extra free days sometime during the Autumn I would love to go to Moscow. Seeing one of
Chekhov's play on the Bolshoi theatre would be a dream.

I also got hold of some Russian literature yesterday. I finally managed to locate both War and Peace, Anna
Karenina, The Master and Margerita, Lermontov's 'Heroes of our times' and three volumes of Chekhov's short
stories. We are doing Chekhov's short stories for our Russian classes, and I discovered that I really love
them.
Our teacher also teaches Russian language and civilization at the university here, so she adds a little literary
analysis which I find absolutely great.

Oh, and my daughter who has just had her first 5 days of Russian bought '50 Shades of Grey' which she
insists that she will read in Russian. If that is not a hairy goal, I do not know what is. I suspect that I will pinch
them and read them first, but as long as she is motivated to learn to read Russian, she could read Marquis de
Sade for all I care.

I also bought an Agatha Christie in Ukrainian. I know no Ukrainian at the moment, but when my Russian gets
stronger I will try to finish the Pimsleur Ukrainian course and a few lessons in Assimil, and I should be good to
go.

We had breakfast at McDonald's today, courtesy of our non functioning toilet, and I made the following
observations: They have the best milkshake and the best McFlurry I have ever tasted in any McDonald's, and
I have been to a lot since I collect going to McDonald's in different countries. They are also the only ones I
know where you can have oat meal porridge for breakfast. And they have an (intended) hole in their toilet
doors which half the Ukrainian army could have crawled through quite comfortably. Not quite as comfortable
for the occupant, though. I am old fashioned enough to appreciate a bit of privacy. Well, well, at least here I
manage to find the ladies' room, and don't go to the men's room by mistake all the time like I did in Russia.

Ps. If you feel like making conflicting political remarks, you are welcome to. But not here. You are welcome
to write a PM to me or whatever you want in your own log, but I am not going to discuss politics here. I love
Russians, I love Ukrainians. No past, current or future political systems or leaders will change that. And that
is my last word on that subject matter.


Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 20 August 2014 at 8:39pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 3190 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 386 of 464
10 August 2014 at 9:41am | IP Logged 
When I was in Scandinavia, the streets always felt so quiet - it was like nobody spoke
on the streets. You can engage the Scandinavians, but it's a bit different.

The Russians really are engaging but you do need to kind of trigger them first - show
them you have something that they find interesting (usually being a foreigner is
enough. Being a foreigner that speaks Russian in Siberia means you can expect a LOT of
interaction).

And what was up with that heat wave? Seriously, the one time I try to actually escape
the heat and go somewhere nice and chilly Norway has to have a heat wave over 30
degrees? I feel like a Viking. (Maybe I am a Viking. Who knows?)

Anyway, it's great to have finally met you in real life. Where do you store all of that
food? And why isn't there more of your rose jelly?

I hope to come back to Norway at some point (but I don't know when because I am still
not used to your prices), and on that trip I will probably focus on going to Oslo but
mostly the western part of Norway, Bergen and Stavanger, to see the fjords. And also to
learn some Western Norwegian dialect and learn how to write Nynorsk. (I have found that
I find that more interesting than Bokmål).
2 persons have voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3817 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 387 of 464
10 August 2014 at 9:48am | IP Logged 
Well, you are welcome back to us anytime :-)

And we are not used to our prices either. I still sometimes gasp when I see how much it costs just to buy the
basics (bread, milk, vegetables, fruit)

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 10 August 2014 at 9:50am

1 person has voted this message useful



Марк
Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 3539 days ago

2096 posts - 2972 votes 
Speaks: Russian*

 
 Message 388 of 464
10 August 2014 at 4:13pm | IP Logged 
I would like to visit Ukraine, but I'm not sure I'll be allowed to do that. The border police does not let young men
enter the country as far as I know. I learned a lot of Ukrainian by watching Ukrainian TV. I communicate with
Ukrainians by the internet.
1 person has voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3817 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 389 of 464
10 August 2014 at 5:15pm | IP Logged 
Марк wrote:
I would like to visit Ukraine, but I'm not sure I'll be allowed to do that. The border police does
not let young men
enter the country as far as I know. I learned a lot of Ukrainian by watching Ukrainian TV. I communicate with
Ukrainians by the internet.


It is just a matter of time, Mark. Once things cool down both Ukrainians and Russians will remember how
close they are, and you will be able to visit.

I am old enough to remember when a lot of people from both sides of the border in Germany hated and
feared each other. Now that is just a distant memory. I remember when Serbs and Croats did not speak to
each other, and we could not have business meetings with both present. And I remember when I thought that
when Apartheid was over in South Africa the country would drown in blood, yet it all went well.

This will too.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3817 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 390 of 464
20 August 2014 at 8:07pm | IP Logged 
I found this really cool group of Russian rock musicians which is supposed to be Russia's Pink Floyd,
including Pink Floyd's subtle and not so subtle criticism of the society in which they live.

THE TIME MACHINE

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 20 August 2014 at 8:07pm

1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 3190 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 391 of 464
20 August 2014 at 8:09pm | IP Logged 
It's less Pink Floyd, more rock 'n' roll. I was so disappointed when I clicked it and
there were no 20 minute psychedelic intros :(
1 person has voted this message useful



Josquin
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 3327 days ago

2266 posts - 3992 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Latin, Italian, Russian, Swedish
Studies: Japanese, Irish, Portuguese, Persian

 
 Message 392 of 464
02 September 2014 at 2:43pm | IP Logged 
Okay, as nobody completed the August Challenge, I won't pose a September Challenge.

Instead, we might think about organizing a Skype session if people are interested. I'd suggest we need at least five participants in order to have it take place and we should think about some kind of programme in advance.

I remember the last session where there were YnEoS, Expugnator, and myself and we ran out of things to talk about after about 30 minutes. If you want a Skype meeting, please think about activities, discussion topics, or questions you have beforehand.

Personally, I think we should by all means speak some Russian. It doesn't matter if you can say "Меня зовут Анна" or if you can discuss the connection between the breaking of the USSR and current devolopments in Russian economy in Russian, you should muster all your courage and try to use your knowledge.

Is anybody interested?


1 person has voted this message useful



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