I have finished my summer course studying Russian at Polytech!
I’d like to say that I’m basically fluent now, but alas, that is not the case (yet). This past month, I navigated a steep learning curve in more ways that one, but I’d like to say that my language skills have experienced the most change since coming to Russia. I had a lot of practice with phonetics and intonations, and I certainly have a larger vocabulary than when I began. I have gained a greater understanding of verbs of motion (though they can still be quite tricky to manage), and I’d like to think my case endings have been hammered down a bit better. And while, my ability to hear, comprehend, and respond in a timely fashion still requires a lot of work, I think participating in Polytech’s summer school has given me a greater confidence in my Russian language survival skills.
Finishing the summer school also means that I’ve reached the one month mark of being in Russia. During this time, I have definitely struggled with homesickness. As classes back home began and everyone settled into their new routines, I kept getting notifications about all the cool things that were happening. It made me ache for my family, friends, and home. But I am beginning to learn not to dwell on my homesickness by using my spare time to explore St. Petersburg and appreciate the beauty and history of this city. Even though I do miss home, I have an incredible opportunity in spending this semester abroad, and I am going to make the most of it.
Overall, my greatest achievement over this past month has been learning how to move past my fear in talking to native speakers. I still have a long way to go in this regard; navigating business transactions or asking a question about transportation is one thing, and holding a true conversation is something entirely different that I still have trouble with. I’ve scaled the first mountain though, by acquiring the courage to actually engage with people when I’m at the store or at restaurants. Trying to talk to native speakers is always terrifying, but if you can find it in you to at least make an attempt, it is so rewarding.
Thus ends my first month of my time abroad. Next week, we start our class again, and I am excited to see what September and the rest of the semester brings.