Monday, November 5, 2012


So there is a lot of catch up on since I’ve come back to St. Petersburg. I’ll try to recount in one September post, and one October post.

I arrived back in SPB in the beginning of September. I started teaching on Thursday the 6th even though I did have to go to work a few days prior to get things in order. I have three classes. Well two classes and an individual student. I teach one pre-intermediate class on Mondays and Wednesdays, one intermediate class on Tuesdays and Thursdays (my first class), and my individual student, Sergey, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He is a business owner and I meet in his office. Unlike the classes, which follow a book form/schedule, he tells me what he wants to work on (he knows the grammar and is just focused on new vocabulary, and mainly speaking faster since while he knows the rules he sometimes has to think about it when speaking). I am fortunate that I actually like all my students and I think they are all great. I know that with any kind of teaching this is not always the case.

I have also started taking my Russian classes. While sometimes I struggle with the case endings, mostly I suffer the same as Sergey in remembering what goes where. I know it, but it takes some time to think about it. Although I know far less about Russian than he does about English as he knows almost all the grammar rules whereas I know very few, I grasp the rules easily and thanks to Greek and Latin I understand declining nouns/pronouns/adjectives and conjugating verbs. Where I struggle even more though is pronunciation, most notably with the letter ы. Additionally, there are some consonant sounds that I have a hard time with because I’m not used to putting them together. For example the word for “yesterday” is вчера, vchera. Although, that one I’m a little better with. I almost always put an extra vowel sound between the ‘m’ and ‘n’ in мне, mne, which is a declined form of the 1st person. There’s another word that I struggle with a lot, but I’m too lazy to go get my book and look up how to spell it right now, but some consonant sounds are tough for me. I will admit though that I like the Indo-European connection for the word “to know.” In English we have the silent ‘k’ followed by an “n.” Greek begins with “gn” as in the Greek word for “to know,” γιγνώσκω, gignosko, and knowledge γνσις, gnosis. Russian знайте, znaite (or some transliteration like that; I don’t know how to differentiate between и and й when I transliterate. I guess many have й as j so znajte. Anyway, there is a “zn” beginning to the word. The Romantic languages like French, Italian, and Spanish all come more from the Latin “sci” root, but hey, it’s neat nonetheless. And the more important part is that I’m enjoying my Russian classes.

The first weekend back in SPB was Daria’s cousin Masha’s wedding so we donned our fancy clothes, went to the neighborhood courthouse (which has a beautiful imperial interior, but the legal ceremony lasts about 10 minutes so you don’t enjoy it for long). Outside we throw 10 kopek and 50 kopek pieces (the equivalent of cents and 50 kopeks is about 1.5 cents) at the bride and groom as they exit and we toast them with champagne. From there we traveled to take pictures around the city, but on account of rain, the only place we went to was the greenhouse. However, inside the greenhouse there was a butterfly house and they placed butterflies on us for pictures. The main celebration took place as a local restaurant where there were a variety of meats and salads, vodka and champagne, followed by dancing and hookah. The following day we spent out at the Lisiy Nos with Daria’s grandma and the newlyweds and Karina.

Daria spent the first 3 weeks or so of September out at Gorkovskaya, so I went to visit her on the weekends. I received phone updates about the sightings of hedgehogs, but when I went on the weekend, there must have been too many people who also went out on the weekends b/c I never saw a hedgehog. However, we had nice walks in the forest, save when Karma would roll in poo, and gathered mushrooms.

Toward the end of September Daria came back to the city. I do have to admit it was quite comical that Karma knows which of the four doors at the landing is ours, but she does not know what floor. Even now in November, she still has a little trouble. One sad event we saw on one trip when we were both walking Karma was a person burying what we presume was their cat in a local park. The person dressed in black and jeans and shading his eyes with sunglasses, had dug a hole under a tree. There was a shoebox that was eventually laid in the hole and it was evident he was saying some kind of prayers/goodbyes. A little dirt would be tossed in and more whispered words were said. A little more dirt and repeat. We didn’t watch the entire thing, but we were there long enough to witness the box being placed in the hole, a couple prayer cycles, and the man crossing himself during each cycle. This had an impact on us as Ella wasn’t doing well and was very frail and sallow, from which she has thankfully recovered.

The last weekend of September Daria and I took a day trip up to a city called
выборг, Vyborg, which is near the Finnish border. The architecture is quite Germanic/Scandinavian; much more in line with the likes of France and Amsterdam than with Russia. There are old Viking ships resting for tourists like us to see, and a castle on an island in the middle of the bay that dates to the 13th century. Frankly, very strategically located. The tower is 40 or 50 meters tall, but from the top one can see everything in every direction. We went out to a park and walked around, as well as walked through the city. There are many buildings still in ruins either from WWII or something else. Frankly, all you need is a developer willing to restructure the downtown apartments and I’m quite sure they would be taken. There is also an interesting house upon a rock, which is basically a boulder with a house upon it.

An overlap between the last few weekends of September and the first few of October saw Daria and I taking a trip to Lisiy Nos. We would feast on something or other from the garden and return to the city with bushels of apples all from one tree. We also returned with plums on one trip and while most of the plums got thrown out, we made jam, which turned into 3 jars. A tasty treat to top pancakes. We also returned with applesauce made by grandma, to which we gave some to my coworkers. Apparently that was the best applesauce they’ve ever had. It was good. It had a sweet carbonated taste as though it was applesauce champagne.

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