Sunday, May 9, 2010

That "oh sh*t" moment

I've been blissfully going about life lately, not really focussing too much on the trip. Sure, it's in the back of my mind and I think about how far away it still is, but then I realize, it was almost nine months away when I booked it, and now it's only four months away. Yes, I've managed to waste away four months of preparation time. Yes, I've browsed the guidebooks and listened to some podcasts, but I haven't really devoted chunks of time to getting ready.

So I bought a couple more Russian books (as in learn to speak and read Russian) and that's when it really hit me. Oh sh*t. I'm going to Russia. And I can't read or speak this language to save my life. Literally. I can't say "Help" or "Call the Police" or "Fire". I can ask where the toilet is and if borscht is served here. Priorities, I guess.

The alphabet continues to confound me. I think I have the letters figured out, like their "P" sounds like "R". And I think I have the non-letter letters figured out too. And I feel pretty confident if I'm given a list of words and I take my time and sound them out.

But then at the end of the chapter I'm studying, there's a dialogue. Line and lines of text (ok, maybe ten lines, but still, multiple lines). And I get all flustered. I don't recognize a thing, and I'm back to sounding out the words, letter by letter, or if I'm really lucky, syllable by syllable. It's like Hooked On Phonics: Russian style.

Maybe I'm being hard on myself, but I pick languages up much more quickly than this, so I'm discouraged. Back on the train tomorrow, back to hitting the "Learn to Read Russian" book with a vengenance. I still have four months, after all.

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