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Cristina’s travels TAC 2015 Team Pushkin

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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 121 of 297
04 October 2014 at 6:59am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
Марк wrote:
How is your name actually pronounced,

I would not know how to begin to explain that. Like I said, it is unpronounceable. Solfrid Kvernsveen is so
impossible, that I never use it professionally, I just use Cristina.

Solfrid is on forvo at least. Sorry but it reminds me on
сульфит from chemistry (sulfite). I actually think that for Russians the biggest problem is that they have no
clue about the Norwegian rules of pronunciation. Сульфрид in cyrillics would be manageable.

The first name would be pronounced pretty much like you wrote it here. The problem is my last name. To
pronounce Kv in the beginning of a word is already difficult for most people, then the first 'e' is pronounced
like a Norwegian 'æ' (between 'a' and 'e' ), the 'r' is softened because of the following 'n' so that instead of
being pronounced almost like a Russian 'r' as the normal rule is, it sounds almost like an English 'r', then in
the last part 'sv' again appears to be difficult to pronounce at a beginning of a syllable, for most people, and
then the two following 'e's are not pronounced like in 'seems' but like a double, or very long version of the 'e in
'bench'. And then you add the final 'n'. :-)

On my visa my name was spelled "Квернсвин", which doesn't capture the alternative pronunciation of the
first 'e' nor the correct pronunciation of the last two 'e's. Plus 'свин', like in English and Russian means swine,
so it becomes very funny in Norwegian.

@YnEoS: You'll get there, it is just a matter of time and priority. I can do without expensive clothes, shoes,
handbags and whatever else most ordinary women seem to crave, but I cannot do without travelling, seeing
places, meeting people. Perhaps my father was right when he said he thought I must have gypsy blood in my
veins :-)

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 04 October 2014 at 7:06am

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Senior Member
Russian Federation
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Speaks: Russian*

 Message 122 of 297
04 October 2014 at 6:24pm | IP Logged 
We can write Квэрнсвэн in Russian, it would be OK to pronounce, but the vowels would be
wrong. We can write Квярнсвэн, the first vowel would
be closer to the original one.

Edited by Марк on 04 October 2014 at 6:46pm

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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 123 of 297
11 October 2014 at 12:55am | IP Logged 

Some people take something negative which happen at the beginning of a trip, and then assumes the whole
trip will be a disaster. I, in those cases, assume that my quota of bad luck has been filled, and that the rest of
the trip will be a success. I was reaching for a second container to put my bag and iPad in at the security
check at the airport, when one of the security guards banged a whole bunch of those containers on top of my
hand. Luckily I have good reflexes, so I managed to escape with just a very minor injury to my hand, but it still
hurt like hell. They several times offered to get me a doctor, but given that we were talking literally a few
drops of blood, I decided there was no reason to make a fuss, so I declined.

I flew Lufthansa this time, which is a company I really like. Very reasonable price, excellent service, and I
even got to speak German. And I only answered 'Да' once :-) I actually missed Aeroflot, with which I flew to
Moscow. I remember the Aeroflot from my first trip to the Soviet Union, and the improvement is remarkable.
Today that company is also really good.

Serbia is - different. I have never been to a place where all my alarm bells have chimed this loud, and yet so
far everything has turned out perfectly fine. Already on the bus from the airport terminal to the plane I was
uncomfortable. I have worked in an environment with an overwhelming majority of men my whole life, and
have never given a second thought to their gender, but on that bus I suddenly realised that I was the only
woman and the only blonde on board, and it felt like half of them were staring at me. On the plane I was
really relieved that I was sitting next to a woman. I have no idea why that was important to me, it just was.

When I arrived at Belgrade it was after midnight, and I was tired and felt uncomfortable being somewhere
where I did not speak the language or knew my way around this late. I went to get a taxi, there was a guy
yelling 'TAXI, TAXI' and was really in my face, but I chose to ignore him and went for the Taxi counter
instead, and was assigned a car with a fixed price. As soon as I had sat down in the taxi, and the driver had
gotten into the car a second man literally threw himself into the other front seat, and obviously noticing my
scepticism, he assured me that he was just a colleague, and that he only needed a ride for the first couple of
hundred meters. He then got off, thanked me politely, and left. The driver enquired how long I was staying,
and when he found out that I was going to Novy Sad, he gave me an offer to drive me there. I suspect I
should have negotiated the price more, because he was literally singing of joy when I accepted. The hotel
looked like an absolute dump from the outside, but once I got in the receptionist was super friendly and super
efficient, and the room is absolutely lovely. Huge, comfortable bed, squeaky clean bathroom and it is against
the back, on not against the front where there is very heavy traffic.

The breakfast was lovely, with grilled vegetables and cheese pie in addition to the standard items, and
everything from the colour scheme (I love purple) to the presentation of the food was delicate and exquisite.
The staff was also super helpful and kind, and given how inexpensive the hotel was, it was extremely good
value. In fact I was so vocal about how much I liked the hotel that they gave me a voucher I can use to get
10% reduction on my next stay. Not that I expect to get back any time soon apart from the stay I had already
booked for next Sunday, but it was still a nice gesture. If you ever need a hotel in Beograd I would really
recommend hotel Srbija Garni. It is not a big fashionable hotel, it is really tiny, but on Tripadvisor the only
complaints I saw people make was that the exterior looked unappealing and that the shampoo in the the
dispenser was not of a good quality.   If the quality of the free shampoo is your worst complaint, I would say
that means that the hotel is really nice.

At 9.30 sharp my driver was waiting for me, and off we went to Novy Sad. He drove like a madman, all while
teaching me my first Serbian words, and showing me pictures of his kids, and looking at pictures of mine.

When we arrived at Novy Sad the driver did not know where my hotel was, but who needs a map or a GPS
when you have people around? He just hunked his horn, rolled down his window while we were waiting for a
green light and asked the driver in the car next to him, who told him where to go.

And I have managed to make two men I really like and respect uncomfortable today, by hugging one and
kissing the other. As I was waiting outside the cultural centre, someone I immediately realised had to be
Iversen came walking along, and as soon as I had done our version of "Mr Livingston, I presume", I threw my
arms around him in a huge Norwegian bear hug. Not everyone is comfortable with strange women hugging
them, and I suspect Iversen is among them, but being a man of the world, he did not put up a fight:-)

After having chatted happily along with Iversen for a while, we then met Richard Simcott who was talking to a
tall handsome guy. Who I suddenly realised was professor Arguelles. After a little while Richard had to go, so
before I knew it, Iversen and professor Arguelles and I were standing there talking, mostly in French and
Spanish. And I managed to avoid going 'oh, my God, oh my God, oh my God, can I touch you?', and
managed to sound more or less normal, and not like a star struck teen ager. I mean meeting Richard
Simcott, Luca Lampariello and Iversen felt like a big deal for me, but meeting professor Arguelles, was
unreal. I had read some of his writings, and have huge respect for that man.

We then came to the registration part, and I met Emanuele Marini, who together with Richard Simcott was the
main organiser. Since he had been so nice via e-mail, and we had talked about looking forward to meeting
each other after Richard had talked to both of us about the other one this summer, I felt like I knew him, and I
leaned over the table and kissed him on both cheeks (after all he is Italian) and said 'hi, I'm Cristina'.
Forgetting that for me, he was the only one I had communicated with, whereas for him I was one of two -three
hundred he had communicated with. So he looked at me literally in horror, probably wondering who this
crazy woman was, and I made a mental note to myself of acting a tad more Norwegian for the next decade
or so, and not go around kissing and hugging unsuspecting strangers.   

He then said the numbers of the name tags for me, professor Arguelles and Iversen to his Serbian
colleagues, and they found their tags quickly enough, but not mine. Professor Arguelles joked that perhaps I
did not exist, and since I had earlier told him that he was more of a myth than a man, I now said that as it
turned out perhaps I was the one who was a myth :-). The woman behind the counter asked me what my
number was, and I said that I did not know, as Emanuele had told her not me. She then said in an impatient
voice that I had to remember myself. I then pointed out to her, that the number was given in Serbian, a
language which was her mother tongue, but which I did not speak, so I was afraid I could not help. She
grumbled and asked Emanuele for my number again, and finally I got my name tag, but why they had
organised the name tags according to some random number, and not alphabetically is beyond me. Anyhow,
after the registration Iversen, professor Arguelles and I sat down for a drink, and continued speaking mostly
Spanish, French and the three Scandinavian languages (me my native Norwegian, Iversen his native Danish,
and professor Arguelles a very impressive Swedish). I felt like pinching my arm, and just felt so immensely
privileged to be talking to both of them and of course as always in this situations you are struck by how
friendly and down to earth they are. At some point during the afternoon we also talked a little bit in Russian,
and also in Italian, and to my relief, I was not the only one whose Italian was getting a bit rusty :-) I then met
again a really nice girl Richard had introduced me to this summer in Norway, who must be the the only
Ukrainian who is also fluent in Norwegian and Sami. I spent some time talking to her and Iversen during the
cocktail, and after speaking Norwegian and Danish for a while, I suggested going into Spanish, because I
respected the wish not to speak English, but I most certainly did not go all the way to Serbia to speak
Norwegian! Since Irena did not feel confident to speak Spanish, even though she understood it, I proposed
that she speak Portuguese, and when Iversen joined in in Portuguese as well, we had a long three way
conversation where they spoke Portuguese and I spoke Spanish. Not that I really understand Portuguese,
normally, but I did today :-)

In the afternoon we went on a three hour guided walking tour with an absolutely amazing local guide. She
knew everything there was to know about history, and she brought us to an Orthodox Church, where we
learned some most unexpected facts.

She told us that when you finished studying theology, you had the choice between becoming a monk or a
priest. As a monk obviously you could not marry, you had to stay celibate. The priests could marry. In fact
they had to marry, or they would not be ordained as priests. As you can imagine that piece of information
opened up for a lot of questions, such as what if you did not find the right one, what if you did not want to be a
monk and stay celibate, but you were not ready to marry right now either, what if you married and then got
divorced? Interestingly enough, it was only if you were a monk, and celibate, that you could get higher
positions in the church, such as bishop. Talking about choosing between a family and a career! To my
surprise the women did not have to cover up their heads with head scarves, like in every other Orthodox
Church I have been to, but they could not become priests or see the most sacred parts of the church either.

The guided tour was supposed to last for an hour and a half, but ended up lasting for two hours and a half,
but that was ok, because it was so interesting. I was really happy that I am in a better shape than I was a
year ago though, because walking around in the sun (28 degrees today) for two hours and a half, with some
of it being steep up hill, after already having been on our feet for an hour and a half before that, is something
you notice.

In the evening we were taken to the restaurant, and on the way there I talked to a British guy who spoke
Russian, Serbian, Slovenian and Albanian, and who had worked as an interpreter in Kosovo. Wow. At my
age I rarely get impressed, but some of the stories he could tell impressed me.

At the entrance we were greeted with bread and salt, and some alcoholic beverage. I took the bread and the
salt, but after a sip of the liquor I hid the rest of it behind a big plant. I had not eaten since breakfast, and
knew that if I finished that drink I would simply keel over. I must confess that the restaurant was a huge
disappointment. Not because of the food. The food was great, once it came (it took an hour and a half to get
the first course, and two hours and a half before we got the second course).

It was not the company either. The company was fantastic. I had three nice Russians to my right, and
Richard Simcott and a really nice Welshman on my left. The problem was that the acoustics were so
abysmally awful, that I could not hear what those around me said. I could hear the three Russians speaking
Russian, but could not pick up a single word. I could not hear what was said even in English right next to me.
In addition to 100 polyglots speaking in different languages, there was loud music which they refused to turn
down. Iversen did the only sensible thing, and stuck ear plugs in his ears and communicated with those
around him in writing. And to top the ambiance, it was allowed to smoke, which a lot of people did. I tried to
ask if it was possible to open a window, to at least get some fresh air in, but was told that they had an air
condition system.   'Yeah, cause that works so well...'

So I was surrounded by interesting people I really wanted to talk to, but could not hear them, and was starting
to get a head ache because it was so noisy, because I had had to scream every time I wanted to say
anything and because of the smoke. After three hours I just threw in the towel and took a taxi home. And the
silence was total bliss.

I expect tomorrow to be better - when the actual conference starts.

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 16 October 2014 at 3:22pm

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Senior Member
Virgin Islands
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 Message 124 of 297
11 October 2014 at 1:55am | IP Logged 
Ah, to be in Novi Sad, immersed in the fellowship of language-learning. Thank you so much for your post. It helps those of us who are so far away from Europe and can't be there to get a little taste of how wonderful it must be. Please give everyone my best wishes and I'm sure I speak for everyone else in saying, I am looking forward to hearing more!

Edited by iguanamon on 11 October 2014 at 9:03pm

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rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 125 of 297
11 October 2014 at 11:31am | IP Logged 
Another wonderful post! Thanks Cristina for the updates.
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Senior Member
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Speaks: English*, German, Esperanto
Studies: Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian

 Message 126 of 297
11 October 2014 at 7:39pm | IP Logged 
Fascinating to read about your experiences in Serbia, Cristina. I was in Belgrade and
Novi Sad a few weeks ago and loved both places, but the smoking is a real menace over
there. My Belgrade guidebook said that everyone in Serbia is either a smoker or planning
to be one when they grow up and by the end of my holiday I had decided that that wasn't
too much of an exaggeration!

Hope you have a wonderful time at the conference :)
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Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
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 Message 127 of 297
11 October 2014 at 8:01pm | IP Logged 
I ought to have gone. I ought to have gone. I ought to have gone...
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Solfrid Cristin
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Joined 3935 days ago

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

 Message 128 of 297
11 October 2014 at 8:19pm | IP Logged 
@Iguanamon: There sure are lots of polyglots around, and it is evidently well known in the city that we are
here, because when I was in a book store this evening, one of the shop assistants saw my name tag, and
started talking about the conference to her colleague.

@rdearman: Thank you!

@Radioclare: Yes the smoking is a nuisance, but otherwise I am having a great time.

@Tarvos: Yep. You ought to :-)

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