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Cristina’s travels TAC 2015 Team Pushkin

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Solfrid Cristin
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Studies: Russian

 Message 73 of 297
28 August 2014 at 10:22pm | IP Logged 

What is a solidarity shower, you ask? A solidarity shower is when you take cold showers only, even if you
have hot water in your apartment, because 80% of the city will not have hot water until October, and you
cannot bear to spend the energy they so sorely need when the winter comes. I was shocked when I found out
that my daughter did not know what the word solidarity meant (seriously) but when I explained the concept
she took her cold showers without a complaint like a good little trooper.

Of course yesterday I did not take any shower at all, for the very good reason that there was no water
whatsoever, hot or cold. I must admit that after 5 days this month without an operative toilet, the thought of no
water did not exactly put a big smile on my face, but my mum taught me a creative trick or two on how to
keep strictly clean under the most trying circumstances, so I left for school in good spirit.

And now that the month is coming to an end I must say that the school and the teachers are absolutely
amazing. I have learned so much, and they are so good, that I would have filled the school with pupils had I
had the power to do so. Unfortunately with foreign soldiers already operating on Ukrainian territory, the pupils
are not exactly lining up. In fact next week I think there are practically no pupils left at all.

When I came home from school there was a man trying to open the door, who spoke to me in broken English.
I could hear with half an ear that he was Italian, but he was so stressed out that it took him full two minutes of
me speaking to him in Italian, and he answering me in Italian, before he said in a surprised voice " What, you
speak Italian?" Turns out his wife and he had arrived the same day, had found out that there was no water
(so no shower after a long trip) and the key to the front door did not work so they had not been able to go out
and buy anything to eat. The wife practically kissed me when she found out that I did not only speak Italian,
but was also willing to lend them my key so they could go out and get something to eat. But speaking Italian
was almost physically painful, since my head was full of Russian. I apologized for my difficulties, but they
assured me they were just overjoyed to meet a Ukrainian who spoke Italian. What were the odds? I had to tell
them that I was unfortunately not Ukrainian, and they seemed to think it was unbelievable to find a Norwegian
in Ukraine. Well, I guess there are not a lot of us here, particularly not now. Anyhow I loved speaking Italian
again, even if it was really hard. But I soooo need to get some practice in both Italian and German, or I will
lose them. I have been doing so much Russian lately that I have to focus even when I speak French and
Spanish. Scary.

And tomorrow is my big exam. No, it is not the B1 - I could not have pulled that off, besides the Russian
institute which does the exams cancelled all activities already in February. I am however to meet my
Ukrainian friends, the ones who made me want to learn Russian in the first place. I will meet them tomorrow,
and then I will see how it works out. Cross your fingers for me :-)

Can somebody tell me why it is impossible to have the word "ITALIANS" in capital letters in the title?I have
corrected it three times now, but it keeps jumping back.

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 28 August 2014 at 10:25pm

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 Message 74 of 297
29 August 2014 at 11:51am | IP Logged 
Hi Cristina, fantastic to see your progress in Russian. Congratulations! I kind of envy you being able to spend so much time in Kiev on a Russian language course. Unfortunately, for me that is not an option for the time being. As always, it is great fun to read your "reports".

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Russian Federation
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 Message 75 of 297
29 August 2014 at 11:31pm | IP Logged 
that's the autocorrect responsible for changing itаlian to Italian. it also works where it shouldn't, like with itаliano (which becomes an error in Italian).
And before this thread I didn't realize that I can use the Cyrillic "а" to work around the bug.

Edited by Serpent on 29 August 2014 at 11:37pm

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 Message 76 of 297
05 September 2014 at 5:38am | IP Logged 
vonPeterhof wrote:
I guess kvass really is an acquired taste. I didn't like it as a kid, but now I can't imagine summer in Russia without it. If you haven't already, I think you should definitely try okroshka, the perfect soup for a hot summer afternoon. Maybe you'll see kvas in a new light thanks to it. It can also be made with kefir instead of kvass and sour cream, but I don't think I'm personally familiar with anyone who actually prefers the kefir version.

And yeah, there's definitely an awful lot of notaries in former Soviet states. I've had the reverse of your experience the first time I spent a long holiday in the UK. "Why are there law firms and real estate agencies all over the place, but not a single notary's office in sight?!"

A few weeks ago I made okroshka with kefir and then last week okroshka with kvass. I prefer the version with kefir despite from what I gather is its "non-traditionalness" and inferiority compared to the "real deal" with kvass. Kvass is pretty much a mildly exotic soft drink for me and to be drunk on its own whenever I can get it rather than to be used for "soup". I just can't quite get used to letting a soft drink act as the "broth". Unlike tarvos though, I first had it as 'gira' in Lithuania and liked it from the start. I don't mind at all the bread-like aroma and taste.
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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
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Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 Message 77 of 297
07 September 2014 at 9:54pm | IP Logged 
@ Ogrim: Yes, I feel very fortunate :-)
@ Serpent: Thanks for the explanation!
@ Chung: I suspect you are slightly more adventurous than I am :-)


When you start out the first week yelling at your Russian teacher in anger, and then when you part after a
month she has tears in her eyes, calls you sister, kiss you at both cheeks and tells you that she loves you
(still using the formal вы form) you know you have done a good job as a student. And whoever tells me
Russians and Ukrainians are cold people, will not be able to convince me.

On my way home I had an icon in my bag, a parting gift from my other teacher, which she said I should put
above my bed, as it would help me find a new husband. I have pointed out to her that I am not looking for a
new husband, in fact I do not need a man in any capacity right now, I have never been happier, but since she
seems convinced that the way to my true happiness is through a man, I have promised to do as she asked.

I feel absolutely awful leaving them right now, but with soldiers pouring into the country my friends and family
are getting more and nervous on my behalf, and between the current political situation and the volcano on
Island threatening to make air traveling in Europe difficult again, I must admit that I am a bit relieved.

I met my friends the last day I was there, and they were so impressed! Did I understand everything they said
at rapid fire speed among themselves with some Ukrainian thrown in for good measure? Nope. But I
understood everything they wanted to say to me even if sometimes I had to ask again, or ask what a word
meant, and I could answer them back in Russian.

And in my bag I have a document which says I am at B1 level in Russian. Hallelujah!

I did not pass a B1 exam, and as far as grammar and writing goes I am not B1 yet, but they felt that my
speaking and comprehension was at B1 level, so that is where I ended up. If I get to go back next year, I'll
pass the B1 exam then.

Since speaking is what is most important to me, I am very satisfied. And I know B1 is a very low level, but I
have worked so much to get here, and hardly thought I ever would get here, so I am still very happy.

I think it was good to get back to a normal situation, though. The last days my brain was getting so Russified
that I could hardly think in Spanish or Italian (and if you wonder why I would want to think in Spanish and
Italian I sometimes have full conversations in my head, and when they come out full of Russian you know you
have a problem). And sometimes I wrote in Russian letters in English or Norwegian.   

In fact, after a week in Norway I still struggle to write with the Latin alphabet. Instead of writing n, r and i I
keep writing н, р and и. And this was after one single month (one REALLY intensive month, but still). I have
been writing in the Latin alphabet since I was 5 years old, so it is incomprehensible to me that one month of
studying Russian could shake that. But I guess it says a lot about how much I focused on Russian. As I
sometimes say, I am a very girly girl, but my one masculine trait is an ability to focus 100% on a particular
topic. That is quite a useful ability to have.

Today I had a new meeting with my Ukrainian, pregnant friend, and helped her to write one letter to a
potential landlord, and one to her doctor. She asked me if she could call me from her doctor's office if she did
not understand the answers, and I said she could call me anytime she needed me to translate, but that she
then needed to speak slowly, as I obviously cannot translate what I do not understand. I now have a vision of
a hysterical Russian speaker in full labour, needing translation, and how that might work out, but I guess I can
only try my best. So not qualified for the task, though. I am a shaky B1 which absolutely does not qualify me
to do medical or administrative interpreting, particularly under stress.

I am not unfamiliar with translating on the phone, my Russian friends once called me from Spain, when their
car had been broken into, and I interpreted for them in conversations with the staff at the place where the
break in had happened, and with the police, but that was between Spanish and English which are my two
strongest languages. My Russian is very far from that level.

Edit: I take back the part about not needing a man in any capacity right now. My Spanish little brother is here
with his family, and I had forgotten how nice it is to have a little brother, who does things for you, carries your
bags, cooks and lets you sit in front in the car, and which you know will love you not matter what happens.
When in addition I absolutely love his wife, it could not be better. I have known him since he was 14 years
old, his sister is my best friend in Spain, his parents are like my parents and I know every family secret in his
family going back three generations. However it is when your little brother is starting to get grey hairs and is
fast approaching 50 that you realize that you are not a spring chicken anymore. I have however spoken
Spanish since Tuesday, and a lot of it too. I threw in the occasional "Da" instead of "si", but apart from that it
has gone as clockwork. And we got to take a swim :-) I have only had a swim in the sea in Norway in
September once before, and then only for reasons of hygiene (camping trip, no available shower) as it tends
to be really cold, but yesterday for the first time I did it for pleasure. It was not as cold as I had feared, but it
started to rain while we were at the beach, so I was quite impressed by my Spanish friends. Anyhow: Love
having my Spanish brother here.

I also managed to squeeze in a Skype session with my team today. We were just three, but we spoke
Russian, German, French and English, so I felt we did quite well. We had a good time too :-)

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 07 September 2014 at 9:58pm

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 Message 78 of 297
07 September 2014 at 10:36pm | IP Logged 
Hey, Cristina, I'm glad your stay in Ukraine was positive and successful. Congratulations on the B1 certificate! You may think it's a low level in comparison to your other languages, but actually at B1 you can already do a lot of useful things in Russian.

Anyway, it was good talking to you today! I thought your Russian and German were really good. And your French, of course, too! :)
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Super Polyglot
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 Message 79 of 297
08 September 2014 at 10:51am | IP Logged 
Б1 - очень польезный уровень. По-моему - это начало независимости. Желаю тебе успехов! Но
когда мы встретились летом, уже было заметно, что у тебя прогресс есть!

Edited by tarvos on 08 September 2014 at 10:52am

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 Message 80 of 297
09 September 2014 at 4:32pm | IP Logged 
Congrats Cristina! It's definitely quite an achievement! :)

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