Posts tagged ‘St. Petersburg’

May 24, 2011

Lost in Translation

I’ll only post a couple more entries about my time in Russia, but I did want to share a few of my favorite memories of problems I encountered with mixing English and Russian.  Let me know your favorite ; )

1 ) Kids or Tea?

Nikita: “Do you want kids?”
Me: “Umm, well not right now…wait, what did you say?”
Nikita: “Do you want chi?”
Me: “OH!  Tea.  No. Not right now.”

2 ) English is Hard

Nikita was reading a book Katie got me just to show me he could read English outloud.  He almost got through a whole paragraph perfectly until he got to the word “Judged.”  He read it “jood-ged” and I just about died laughing (as did he when I said the correct pronunciation).

3 ) It’s a Rooster!

::Pasha and I walking past a cage of chickens and roosters at the Moscow Zoo::
Pasha: ::points to Rooster and declares:: “Cock.”
Me: “Well, yes, but we don’t really use that word because of its other meaning.  It’s kind of bad.”
Pasha: “What else does it mean?”
Me: “Yeah, Cock is fine. Nevermind.”

Rooster at Moscow Zoo

Rooster at the Moscow Zoo

4 ) Rihanna Translated

::Rihanna’s S & M video comes on in St. Petersburg::
Me (to Nikita): “Yay American music! Even if it’s a little crazy.”
Nikita: ::Blank stare::
Me: “Do you know what the song is about?”
Nikita: “No.”
Me: “Oh. Well, kind of what s going on in the video. ” ::Proceeds to mime being handcuffed because that is the only thing I could think of in the moment besides pointing at the screen::

5 ) Signa…what?

Nikita: Kelly, what’s name of this? ::Points at alarm on iPhone::
Me: “Alarm.”
Nikita: “Uh-Larm.”
Me: “Yes.  What’s it in Russian?’
Nikita: “Signalizatsiya.”
Me:    O_o ……”I’m going to go with alarm.”

6 ) McDonalds = McDonalds

::Russian waitress asks to take my order at McDonalds::
Me: “Um, Nikita, can you help me?  I want ::points to Chicken McNuggets meal::
Nikita (to waitress): “Chicken McNuggets.”
Me:   -_-      “Okay, I could have done that.”

7 ) Keeping Busy

::Talking with Alexi (a friend of Pasha’s who could speak English pretty well) about cars::
Me: “Most American’s drive an automatic car.”
Alexi: “I don’t like it.  It’s too boring.  You always need something to keep your hand busy.”
Me, Pasha, and Alexi: ::Dead silence for a few seconds, and then we all burst out laughing at what that statement implied::

8 ) Machinas!

::Watching Transformers in Russian and they happen to say the word “machina”::
Me: “Machina!  That means car!  They said car!”
::Nikita starts laughing::
Polina (in a teacher to a preschooler tone): “Very good Kelly.”
Me (proudly): “I understand like every 100oth word in this movie!”

9 ) Not Microbiology

::Nikita trying to explain a class he is taking in dental school::
Nikita: “We look at cells and use a microscope.”
Me: “Oh! Microbiology.”
Nikita: “No. That’s a different class.”
::Nikita shows me the textbook used for the class and then we translate it on Google to see that it’s the equivalent of Histology in English.::
Me: “OH.  Histology…Yeah, I don’t know that word in English either.”

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May 23, 2011

Ch ch ch changes

I’ve been home for just over a week now and have had many opportunities to share my experiences in Russia.  The one thing I always tell everyone is that the trip was life changing.  Now that may sound overdrammatic, but visiting another country can do that.  I appreciate things I have here more.  Russia isn’t a barren wasteland or a small village, but the standard of living is not the same as the U.S.  Public restrooms are extremely small and not very well kept, parking lots are a rare thing to find (even at popular establishments), elevators fit a maximum of four people if everyone smushes together, living in a house is extremely rare, and some apartment hallways look like a place where you could buy crack in the U.S., but when you step into someone’s apartment, it’s the most beautiful room you’ve ever seen (at least equivalent to rooms in my house, but most of the time even better looking).

Below are two videos of the apartment I stayed at in St. Petersburg post-fire damage from 6 months ago.  In the first video, you see the hallway damage and then the nice individual room inside (so pretty).  The second video shows you the individual room in detail, and the shared kitchen and bathroom (note the bucket I mention later in the entry is shown here) areas.

I expected some of these things…others surprised me.  But what I found most interesting was how kind the people are.  Families welcome you into their home and cook you multiple course dinners upon arrival.  People sleep on the couch-turned-bed in a hallway just to make sure you get the nicest room in the apartment (even though you are already grateful to avoid paying for a hotel).  I always felt like the attitude there was “how can I make this place your home?” where in the U.S. it is more “how can I make space for you in my home?”  I was overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness I was shown everywhere we went.

Something else that was interesting about the trip was me.  From the moment I stepped off the plane, I became very easy going and okay with whatever was thrown my way (not your typical Kelly).  Running through train stations, climbing roofs, eating fish with the scales left on, walking endlessly through the streets of St. Petersburg, being shown the bucket of water to use in the bathroom “just in case” the plumbing had problems…nothing really phased me.  I just felt very fortunate to stay with various people and explore the country with Polina and her family.  I adopted the motto “If you’re not dying, your fine” pretty quickly, and then just went along with whatever happened.  And really, I loved it and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Nikita, Valeriya, and Me on the Roof

Roof Climbing in St. Petersburg with Nikita and Valeriya

Now, a trip can’t be life changing without changing your life, so here are a few habits I’ve picked up since being back:

1) I now drink hot tea daily, if not twice daily, and LOVE it.  Greenfield’s Kenyan Sunrise is currently my favorite.
2) I take a 3 mile (about an hour) walk every night when the sun starts to go down just to get moving.  Sitting at a desk all day is really hard after walking everywhere for ten days, and even watching TV causes me some restlessness (3 weeks ago me would have been like WHAT?????).
3) Lightly salted cucumber slices is now a popular snack of choice.
4) I don’t try to make food more plain, and have had several sandwiches and salads since I’ve come back without making any adjustments (for those who do not know me well, I always plain things down when I order- pasta with sauce on the side, hamburgers plain, just cheese and meat on sandwiches, etc.).
5) I am making time every day to learn more Russian vocabulary.  I really want to go back and visit, and I know learning more of the language would make it more enjoyable to communicate with all the people I encounter.  I’m even practicing reading it : )

I know, nothing TOO major, but this is just the beginning.  I leave for Oklahoma in less than 2 weeks.  My life is about to change in many ways, and I’m really excited about it.  I took on Russia and loved it.  Now, I can take on anything.