Someone in my Fulbright group sent out a link to this amazing, funny website – Big Russian Soul – which I wanted to pass along.
Other than my recent post of a poem by Aleksandr Blok, I haven’t written anything on this blog during my time in Russia, which is now approaching a full 4 months. I could write a novella about my life here so far, my impressions, musings, but I do not have time, nor do you have time to read it. So for now, I will just give a somewhat brief, functional update, with only minimal editorializing. This journal is often in the back of my mind as I’m moving through my daily life and ideas for articles come into my head not infrequently. I don’t want to let this year get away without better analyzing life here and without documenting these things in a better format than my sporadic emails to friends and family, so I hope to write more often. (I have also kept a semi-regular Russian journal for writing practice, which you are welcome to read, but its analysis is limited by my Russian language ability).
I left Ohio at the end of July, sadly parting with my few remaining good friends there and especially my family, whom I did not expect to see for an entire year. I flew to Moscow and spent the entire month of August there with a group of 13 or so other Fulbright grantees. We lived in an authentic Russian dormitory (authentic, in this case, means really run-down, probably equivalent to welfare housing in the U.S. ) at Moscow Gumanitarnij Universitet (MosGU), listened to presentations about teaching English at Russian universities, went on a few excursions to museums and interesting places, and, somewhat half-heartedly, took classes in Russian language. Continue reading
Someone recommended this Blok poem to me recently and last night I translated it into English. Really beautiful. Translation feedback is welcome.
Петроградское небо мутилось дождем…
Петроградское небо мутилось дождем,
На войну уходил эшелон.
Без конца – взвод за взводом и штык за штыком
Наполнял за вагоном вагон.
В этом поезде тысячью жизней цвели
Боль разлуки, тревоги любви,
Сила, юность, надежда… В закатной дали
Были дымные тучи в крови.
И, садясь, запевали Варяга одни,
А другие – не в лад – Ермака,
И кричали ура, и шутили они,
И тихонько крестилась рука.
Over the past month I’ve compiled a short list of teaching ideas that I will try to implement come September when I start teaching English at Novosibirsk State Technical University. This is what I’ve come up with so far, but I’m looking to improve upon, eliminate, and add teaching ideas…
1. On the first day of class, pass out a questionnaire asking students why they’re in the class, what they hope to achieve, and a couple of personal questions.
2. Bring in pictures of yourself, family, America to show class on first day as an introduction.
3. When students make mistakes in English try to correct them on the spot if it won’t disrupt their train of thought.
4. Sometimes jot down notes of the mistakes you hear during class, then at the beginning of the next class pass out examples of sentences that were spoken and ask students to look for the mistakes.
5. Make students give presentations. I’ve heard Russians tend to love to speak, particularly in front of people. They may be reluctant at first but over time they will likely open up and get into it.
6. Make them recite a poem in English in front of the class. I’ll break the ice by reciting some poems in Russian first. Pick out some poems to assign as defaults, but allow students to pick their own if they wish.
7. Show good American movies or cartoons, or at least some clips (depending on time).
This is a great poem by Aleksandr Blok. I attempted to translate it below, but had some trouble, feedback appreciated.
Миры летят. Года летят. Пустая
Вселенная глядит в нас мраком глаз.
А ты, душа, усталая, глухая,
О счастии твердишь, – который раз?
Что’ счастие? Вечерние прохлады
В темнеющем саду, в лесной глуши?
Иль мрачные, порочные услады
Вина, страстей, погибели души?
Что’ счастие? Короткий миг и тесный,
Забвенье, сон и отдых от забот…
Очнешься – вновь безумный, неизвестный
И за’ сердце хватающий полет…
Вздохнул, глядишь – опасность миновала…
Но в этот самый миг – опять толчок!
Запущенный куда-то, как попало,
Летит, жужжит, торопится волчок!
И, уцепясь за край скользящий, острый,
И слушая всегда жужжащий звон, –
Не сходим ли с ума мы в смене пестрой
Придуманных причин, пространств, времен…
Когда ж конец? Назойливому звуку
Не станет сил без отдыха внимать…
Как страшно всё! Как дико! – Дай мне руку,
Товарищ, друг! Забудемся опять.
2 июля 1912
Here is a list of Russian words and phrases I’ve picked up over the last few months for anyone looking to improve their Russian vocabulary.
надменный – arrogant
эгоистичный – egotistical
начальник – boss
спаржа – asparagus
глубокий – deep
чужой – foreign (other, different)
так себе – so-so
сотрудник – employee
коллега – co-worker
кормить грудью – breast feed
матч – match (as in football match)
подростки – teen-agers
нет выбора – no choices
Many Russian enthusiasts at some point wish to live in Russia. The question is how. For students at the undergraduate and masters levels, there are several options worth exploring. I have been occupied with the questions of how best to move to Russia and in what program to participate off and on for the past couple of years. In that time, I’ve applied for Russian graduate schools, English teaching positions in Russia, a translation job with a science journal in Russia, research and travel grants, and computer science jobs in Russia. I’ve also applied to a couple of summer language institutes in America as a way of improving my Russian language skills. For anyone on a similar quest, I hope that my impressions of these various options are useful and will save you some time.
First, a bit about myself. I’ve been studying Russian language and culture for about 4 years. I double-majored as an undergraduate in Computer Science and Russian language and managed to graduate on time after many late and unhappy nights of studying. While in college I always considered Computer Science my pragmatic degree and future career, while Russian was more of a hobby and passion. I enjoyed Russian language and culture more, but at that point had no sense of any real-life opportunities in Russian-related careers, so resigned myself to computer work. After graduating, I took up work as a computer consultant, but continued to study Russian language and culture in my free time and to speak with Russian friends and co-workers. Over time I began exploring possibilities in Russian-related careers (which is a topic deserving of its own post). Just recently, a year after graduating and having started work as a computer consultant, I received notification that I was selected to receive a Fulbright grant to live in Russia for the coming year. In August I’ll be moving to Moscow for a month of training, and then on Novosibirsk for the rest of the year where I will work as an assistant to a professor of English at Novosibirsk State Technical University (click here for the Russian version).