It’s now been over a week in to my Russian hiatus and I have a confession to make; I am loving every second of it. The unfounded sense of doom and dread that started to loom over me towards the end of summer has completely evaporated, and I feel like I need to apologize to everybody who tried to reassure that it would be absolutely brilliant whilst I blindly told them to shut up (Sam, Esther and Anna especially – I will only say this once, you were right). There are many reasons for my current state of optimism but I’ll try and pick out a few just to give you a bit more insight into what’s going on over here.
One of the main reasons is that for the first time since school I am actively enjoying studying Russian (and also probably actively studying it for the first time). The way that Liden and Denz work seems remarkably simple yet thoroughly effective. I have 4 hours of lessons back to back each day with a ten minute break every hour all in Russian, roughly split in to a couple of hours of grammar and a couple of hours of writing and speaking. Occasionally we do some sort of listening exercise which I thought we would do more often; however even after only being here a week I have seen my comprehension of Russian drastically improve. Although you hear from everyone that there is nothing like being totally immersed in a different language, you can’t really understand what this means until you experience it. One of the massive advantages about studying Russian as well is that English is rarely heard/used and having to use Russian all the time, albeit rather challenging, is brilliant for my language skills!
Another reason for my optimism is the city of St Petersburg. Steeped in history, there are so many brilliant things to see and do here, and I haven’t even started! I’m sure there will be many more blog posts to follow focusing on some of the brilliant sights here like the Hermitage and the Winter Palace, but until I do them myself I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait to hear about them. One of the best things that I have come across in St Petersburg so far is how cheap the price of tickets are for culture and sport – we’ve already booked tickets to go to see SKA play (Ice hockey), and also plan to go and see Zenit, a ballet and a concert or two – all at about a third of the price that they would be in London. The variety of things on offer means that there is no shortage of things to do!
Finally, as previously alluded to it can be rather tiring/difficult having to do everything in Russian (especially things like organising a Russian sim card…!), so having a great house to go back to every evening is brilliant. Indeed the entirety of my Saturday was spent with the boys trying to find seemingly one of the rarest things in Russia – a SCART lead. Having exhausted all possibilities and realising that Sony are despicable ,and that apparently if you don’t have the original PS3 to Scart lead then you can’t really get one, we decided to take the hit and by a reasonably cheap HD ready TV. Whilst many people may (potentially correctly) point out that having FIFA will be detrimental to my Russian learning, it is just great to have when we need to switch off for a bit.
And that leads me on to the title of this post. As many of you will have correctly assumed I have indeed ran out of pants and socks (sorry Mum) but that bears little relevance to the title, which in fact came from an anecdote from Max. Apparently when he used to play football at school he had a coach who would praise great goals and pieces of skill with the words ‘pants and socks’. When everyone stared blankly at him and he felt the need to express this odd terminology he said to the boys ‘it’s simple really, you keep your pants in socks in the top drawer‘. Apparently he also used to describe goals as ‘picture frame’ (on top of the top drawer) but Russia isn’t quite as good as Danny Rose vs Arsenal…..yet.