If I had a dollar….

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Well like a few others on this trip, this is my first time abroad. My time here in Narva has been filled with several adventures and it has only been two weeks. Of course, time spent here has had ups and downs but the good times always outnumber the bad. Sometimes though, I feel that if I had a dollar for every time I did not understand something said in Russian, I would be a rich man. At the end of the day I always have to remind myself that I am not supposed to understand every word yet and that I am not quite at that level. That being said, I have to push myself harder everyday to study more and more so that by the end of this trip I will be comfortable in my Russian speaking skills at the very least.

I would like to point out a couple interesting encounters so far, one being good and the other not so much. The worst experience here probably has to be an encounter with some “hooligans” (well that was the way they acted). These “hooligans” wanted to start an argument over a soccer team jersey. A friend and I were dancing the night away at the local nightclub when a few guys approached us and proceeded to say how terrible the team on my friend’s jersey was. We kept our cool the entire time, but the leader of their group started to bring more friends over to comment on the jersey. We did not really understand everything the guys were saying since they were drunk and speaking very fast. Very quickly we had to switch to english to make sure they understood that we did not want anything to do with the situation. Eventually, things started to get a little hostile and at one point I was almost convinced they were going to attempt to fight. I’d like to think that if that happened we would have won, however, 2v4 odds are not always the best. We ended up keeping the situation under control and ignoring the hostile messages being said to us and the rest of the night went smoothly (well at least until we actually did end up SEEING several guys fight later on). On the other hand, the best experience I have had so far is being able to talk to a a lady about how to translate some words for an English speaker at the local pizzeria. A very friendly british man came into the pizzeria and was asking for a few food items that the cashier did not understand. She ended up coming over to my table (I had my Russian book out and was studying) and asking me for assistance since I was a student. I ended up finding out that the man was only asking for cream (слибки) and the cashier was finally able to understand him. This experience was great just because I was so used to asking others for help with Russian and for someone to ask me for help translating english to russian was pretty awesome.

In conclusion, I really am enjoying my time here and I just have to continue my studies so that I can continue to have positive encounters and prevent the bad. This trip has been worth every bit of frustration so far and I can’t wait to post more of my encounters in the future.

– Joseph McClain

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