Thursday, September 18, 2008


We went to enrichment last night. Or at least we tried. We never actually got there, but it was quite an adventure. For those of you who are not LDS, enrichment meetings are held periodically, usually on a week night, as an opportunity for the women of the church to get together and have some quality bonding time, which usually means a lot of chatting and even more eating. That is why we were very excited to go. And also why we were willing to travel at least an hour to get there. So, we took our usual bus ride from our house to the nearest metro stop where we were to board the blue line to the brown line to the green line, to another bus. Unfortunately though, our bus drive took longer than normal. We left a little after five, so we were stuck in traffic, and our driver kept trying to take short cuts that were turning into long cuts, which turned our half hour ride into an hour. Then the metro ride didn’t go as smooothly as it could have. We don’t have a metro map, and they aren’t always super easy to see, so when we ride everyone just watches for my signal, and I listen as hard as I can. I’ve got the system figured our pretty well. Over the loud speakers they first say the name of the stop where we are, whether the doors will open to the left or the right, and then the name of the next stop. Then I scramble around on the car, trying to sneak a peak at a map where I read as fast as I can (keep in mind my Russian reading level is about that of a 5 year old), and then I tell everyone how many more stops we have to go. This usually works pretty well. And it did work well last night, but at one point of transfering I forgot to look at the stop we needed to transfer from the brown line, so when we got on we weren’t sure which direction to go. We just guessed, but when we got on the next car and saw the names of the stops, we realized we’d guessed wrong. So, we got off and tried again. We were soon on our way, and got to the correct transfer spot. But then while attempting to transfer to the green line, the girls in the front of the line kept walking, and before we knew it we’d exited the metro station! By then it was already 7pm, and our last bus was going to leave at 9:30, so I had to face the sad truth that if we kept going we’d probably only be able to spend about 30 min at our activity before having to head back. I broke the news to the girls, so we decided to just explore that stop, maybe get some ice cream, and then head back. Well, we lucked out and ended up at the train station. It was beautiful. We walked around and took pictures, and then just walked up and down the streets. I at last felt like I was actually in Russia. We’re so sheltered in our school that I feel like we’re just in some wealthy neighborhood that could be anywhere. The only reminder I have that we’re in a foreign country is that everyone speaks Russian. Oh, that and the faсt that it's freezing cold and all the analog clocks are in military time, oh, and our dishwasher is small. But let me go back to the topic of Russian. That’s actually been a sore topic these past few days. With all my heart I just long to be able to communicate with these people. My favorite thing about learning a new langauge is getting to know and love the people who speak it. I just feel so tormented at times, and walking down the streets last night made me feel even more so. I feel like I have this huge opportunity to learn and love this culture and language and people, and I have an enormous fear that it’s passing me by. I’m afraid I’ll get home and still only speak a handful of words and short awkward sentences. I feel trapped because I have responsablities at the school, and then no one to help me learn the language. I bought Rosetta Stone, which has been helping a lot, but my computer died, so I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to use it. I may be able to come to the school to study periodically. I’ve become friends with the lunch lady who tells me what we eat every day (and I promptly forget the names of all the dishes), but I want more! I want a Russian to walk around with me everywhere and tell me what food to try at the little kiosks, and where to shop for clothes, and to just talk with me and make me say more than I want to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving my time here, but I just don’t want any opportunities to pass me by. Any suggestions?


jkcarrier said...

Yes, I have a suggestion. You and Michael can be mission presidents! That way you'll have another opportunity. Aren't I clever.... Love the posts. You are amazing! Do you ever get to see Lisa?

Justin said...

I know exactly how you feel; in fact, I think you've put into words what I've felt ever since my mission; "My favorite thing about learning a new langauge is getting to know and love the people who speak it." That's my biggest frustration about learning Spanish, there's no chance for me to do exactly what you said.
First suggestion is to get a new computer so you can keep using the program. The other suggestion I think you know: just speak. Speak with the lunch lady. Tell her that you want to learn and practice with her (maybe you already have). It's just like being a missionary, you just have to speak. Is there anyone in the ward that would help you? Are there any nice old babushki that you could just chat it up with. Usually when the people hear you're trying to learn, especially the older people, they want to help and are very impressed. And if you have any questions, you can always ask me!!

Michal said...

i second what justin said. speak it with everyone. everyone you can. spend any free time you have chatting with a russian, even if it's the groundskeeper and you're talking about the plants. it will come. but don't expect fluency before you come home. this isn't spanish, after all. it took most of us at least 6 months in russia as missionaries before we didn't feel panicked when a russian started talking to us on a non-gospel subject!:)