My First Russian Друг (Подруга)!

September 29, 2011

I have reached a huge milestone, one that I did not list when I wrote my goals for the year, but one I certainly hoped for and expected. I’ve made my first друг (подруга)! Sure I have quite a few acquaintances and a lot of lovely teammates, but in Russian the word friend, друг, holds much more serious connotations, as a close friendship. It might be a little less than our “best friend,” but Russians certainly wouldn’t throw it around like we generally do in the U.S. I find myself stopping in middle of a story sometimes after I’ve said “well my friend – actually no, just this guy in my class…” Anyway – friends in Russia are a serious business, and I made one.

More accurately, Masha made friends with me. She is studying to become a soil scientist (she used another, more scientific word, that I did not know in Russian – or English). She speaks very little English, but is studying it at MGU – and plays on my soccer team. She really likes the Black Eyed Peas and can rap really fast in Russian – I plan on taking some lessons from her. Masha lives on the same metro line as me, so we talk for a half hour or so of our commute home after practice. She asked what Americans thinks of Russians, and I tried to describe, with little finesse, how we have a lot of stereotypes, often involving vodka, but how images of Russia and Russians vary widely by generation. I was overjoyed to be able to describe my opinion of Barack Obama with some nuance – thank you, Middlebury Language School and Larisa Ivanovna for giving me to the vocabulary to discuss health care reform! Making friends in Russian has always been my biggest worry about going abroad – whether I can make jokes and communicate my personality in a real way to connect with other people, while speaking another language. My skills with making sarcastic crack comments in Russian are still developing…

Yesterday, before I solidified this first of Russian friendships, Kelsey, Spenser and I headed off to the Pushkin Museum – where all the good European art in Moscow is located. We had gone in the hopes of seeing the Dali exhibit currently running, but after taking one look at the incredibly long line, winding completely around the block, we opted for the “Parisian School” exhibition – generally 1905-1930, in which I discovered a new appreciation for Cubism. The Cubist paintings really reminded me of the design of the Mayakovsky Museum (see earlier post for pictures). With the exception of the 10-minute-long fire alarm malfunction, it was lovely to spend a couple hours there, instead of in class. In the beginning I read (relatively closely) the descriptions of the theme of each room, talking about the different artists and their styles. Some of my French still remains, thankfully – I was able to read the painting names in French as easily as in Russian (in several cases, the French translation helped me understand the Russian words). It was an odd juxtaposition for me, to be reading French and seeing French paintings while in Russia, and I though of two Russian classmates at Middlebury who are currently studying in Paris. Sadly, by the end, my brain wanted to shut down from absorbing so much Russian and so much new information, so by the third floor of the exhibit, I was quite ready for tea and a little café relaxation. I think I’ll save the visits to history museums for the spring – hopefully my Russian endurance will be much higher by then!

Nate – working on reading and memorizing some Akhmatova poems…



3 Responses to “My First Russian Друг (Подруга)!”

  1. Молодец! Это настоящий побед.

    Музей был прекрасный. Сопоставление (вот наше слово) французского искусства в России мне кажется совсем натуральное, в контексте досоветской культурной истории. А к сожалению, по моему третий этаж был самый лучший. Давай наоборот пройти в следующий раз.

  2. Grace G said

    Я думаю о тебе тоже. I went to a Russian Orthodox Church (in fact the seat of the archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Occidental Europe) in Paris last week and had a similarly linguistically-confusing experience seeing Russian translated into French on the menu of a nearby cafe instead of French into English which I’m much more used to.

  3. First time here. Awesome blog and great post. Well done.

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