Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 10 26 - Ya Studient

Ya Studient is how you say "I am a Studient" in Russian - unless you are a Girl - Billie Jo would say "Ya Studientka"

I enter the school and have this remote hope that my teacher will look like Anna Kournikova.

She does not.

She looks more like a shorter version of John Goodman in a big dress.

She asks me a question in Russian - I give her a blank look - she says "Nyet?!?!, nothing you know nothing?!" I politely nod my head yes - I know nothing.

We go to a classroom - she hands me a small text book and we open to the beginning. Page one lists the alphabet - mostly similar to English with a few oddities mixed in the Backwards R and Backwards N, The goofy D, and the Extra Y.

We turn to a page that has a small drawing of a family - we go over the words for Mother (Mama) Father (Papa) Sister (Sestra) and Brother (Brat - go figure). We go over some other pretty simple stuff and everything goes well - and then the teacher starts writing things in my notebook in Russian Cursive.

I am having trouble enough learning and pronouncing the block letter alphabet which appears everywhere - The cursive is not helping me at all.

Then she decides I need to know how to write in cursive. She writes down three words for me to practice "Mama" - easy - the cursive "m" and "a" are the same in English and Russian. "Papa" sort of easy - their "p" is basically our lower case "n". The third word is trickier it is "eelie", the Russian word for "OR". The trouble is that it is made up of a series of letters that all look similar to me and all look like squiggle marks.

I don't see the purpose in the exercise - It is not like I am out to write the next "Crime and Punishment"

Billie Jo tells me this is all about Old School Russian teaching methods. I mope and sulk about it, but halfheartedly commit to the exercise - it is only three words and I scribble them about 20 or 30 times. I never do really get "eelie" correct.

The other portion of my homework is vocabulary - I memorize 25 common words - mostly nouns many of which are the same in English and Russian. The Family ones above, restauarant, Telephone, Bank, Magazine(store), Machina (car), Film and a few Russian Greetings and pleasantries - which are not so simple but definitely useful.

I have three hours of class in the AM followed by an hour break and an hour of class in the afternoon with another teacher.


Now we get to the Kournikova part of the day!! I take my lunch break in the atrium/kafe which is busy with students (and studientka!) having lunch, coffee and socializing. It is like an American college campus - lots of young people and most of them are very attractive.

There is no microwave available to me and my language skills are not up to ordering at the Kafe yet so I have brought along a peanut butter sandwich for sustenance. It will get me through the afternoon.


Vladimir teaches my 1 hgour afternoon class. He strikes me as traditional Russian of the educated set--he is bearded, a bit burly, and smokes like a chimney. He is very friendly and speaks a lot of English when dealing with specifics of Russian language and grammar.

I am worn out for his class but he works with me and helps the hour go along quickly.

Metro the Return

This leaves getting home from school to the safety of my apartment as my final task of the day. I quickly get my neurons and gusto fired up for the trek home during Tuesday rush.

I have no trouble getting back to our home metro station, Kievskaya. Perhaps at this point I let my guard down. Within the Kievskaya metro station I made a Left rather than a right at some juncture - this leads me to a hallway that leads to the mall.

I decide this is not a problem - and follow the hallway - at the entrance to the mall is a giant revolving door - The mall is big on these - Moscow like Chicago needs them to offset the wind and the cold. The revolving doors are typically not a problem - unless they lead from the metro to the mall just after school gets out and are swarmed with teenagers with nothing to do but aimlessly text, chatter and loiter while creating a flustercluck at the door.

Navigating the revolving door of teens proves to be as difficult as venturing through the Metro.

Alas, I persevere and find myself inside a huge mall I have only been in briefly once and have no clue where in that mall I am. I circle my head a few times - sort of gain my bearings and see an exit. I take the exit - emerge on the sidewalk and now gain my outdoor bearings and can see my way home.

I get to my building - I remember my pass-codes to get through the doors, the elevator is thankfully uneventful, and I unlock all the locks successfully!!

My first day of school is complete - although most of my days education happened outside the classroom.


Spotted some guy sporting a white knit cap w/ the Yankees Logo. Thats the first of what I am sure will be the branding winner for my 2 months in Russia.

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