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Small victories

December 16, 2010

Recently, I was invited to spend Christmas with some other PCVs here in Ukraine. I choose to view Christmas as a time to spend with family and friends, so of course I accepted the invitation. After doing so, I realized a couple of things:  this will be the first social trip I have taken since I visited my friend in Lutsk in August (My other trips have been to Kyiv for business-related things!), and that I had to purchase train tickets (something I have not done) to take this trip.

Purchasing tickets for transport is not, generally speaking, a threatening or especially difficult thing to do. However, since I switched languages, and am still in the somewhat early learning stages of Russian, it is a little bit of a challenging thought (especially since the people who work at these places are not known for their customer service skills).

So I got to the train station, with my information at the ready. I had the train number and time written down, and a few words in case I needed them. I got to the window and slowly told her what I wanted, for which train, on which date, in which seating class. She asked me seating class and a couple other questions. When she realized I am not great at the language, she actually slowed down her speech (people usually just speak louder, at the same rate of speed) and was pretty nice. Then I told her I need the ticket back, on which date, on which train, etc.

I left the train station feeling victorious – I had gotten through the transaction, speaking only Russian and understanding most of what she said to me! I had my ticket to Odessa, and my ticket from Odessa, for the exact dates, times, and trains that I requested. I then went to purchase something for lunch and again, only Russian was spoken – no mixing Russian and Ukrainian!

This morning when I got to the library, the electricity was off for a while, so I sat with one of the women who works here and we went through some Russian verbs. She was really helpful, and after a half-hour told me that she now realizes how difficult of a language Russian is to learn! I love it when people realize that, or realize that no, Russian and Ukrainian are NOT just like each other – there are so many differences!

So I am now getting assistance from the women at the Window on America Center at the library, and have been offered assistance from a couple of women from the Technical University (International Business Department) and a couple of friends of mine. And I may have a lead on a tutor as well, so I hope to soon have a steeper learning curve of the language. Certainly to make faster progress than I have been making, if so many people are willing to assist me.

So yesterday and today, I am counting the small victories. It may sound silly, but they add up and eventually make a “big win”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sofia permalink
    December 16, 2010 11:27 am

    Congratulations: Step by step you progress! Christmas in Odessa will be great. You will like it. It’s snowing the whole day long here in Hameln and I’m walking around feeling like an alien who came from another planet. It will certainly take a while till I’m 100% arrived here and feel at home.

    I start to miss Kriovohrad, TORO and all the people I met there….

    Карин, до скорого!

    • December 17, 2010 4:07 am

      I actually won’t be in Odessa – I will be going through Odessa, down to Izmail. But I will be with other PCVs and able to explore a bit with them, which will be nice. It is snowing quite a bit here too! We finally got all the snow everyone else here had a couple of weeks ago.

      It is amazing, culture shock in your home country. I remember going through it when I returned home from Denmark. And I am sure I will when I return from Ukraine. We all miss you!

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