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Questioning One’s Purpose: Thoughts During Week 3 of Russian


I suck, I suck, I suck!

Throughout this whole world travel plan, my goal was to never feel like I just wasted years of my life hanging around here or there. I always had this idea that I would use my time to acquire new skills, attempt new career paths and for the love of your mother, learn a freaking language.

my russian learning classroom

My Little Classroom Where I Speak Russian

Back in 2008, I was well on my way, following the path to learning Russian. But things happened and I eventually ended up in another English-speaking country to not utter a single Russian word until I realized I was coming back to Kyrgyzstan. All of that hard work was basically lost.

During week 3 of Russian lessons, I really hit a wall. I got a bit sick, was struggling with crappy Internet and just really sad that I was without Pat for a fourth week. In class it seemed that I was being bombarded with language rules that were just to be broken by an incessant number of exceptions.

Russian, you are a freaking hard language. Give me Italian or Spanish again and I’m sure I would MASTER those if my brain had to work as hard as it does in this language.

russian signI wanted to just give up. Every phone call with Pat involved me saying something along the lines of how stupid this was to try and come to Bishkek for a month. In Russian speaking terms, a month is like a big tease.

It doesn’t help that anyone I encounter in this little city immediately wants to know my purpose for being here. Because really, you need to have a real purpose, or else you wouldn’t find yourself in a tiny little Central Asian city in the middle of nowhere.

I have a purpose: I want to write about Bishkek, and I want to pick up on some Russian.

However, Bishkek makes me nervous when it comes to the writing part. It is a very connected city meaning all the foreigners here know all the others; all have their own views on the city, and a lot have views on what is being written about the place. In other words, I wasn’t keen to be known as “the travel blogger” who is going to be looking for a story (even though many have already told me how they’ve happened upon my blog at one time or another).

So, that leaves me with pretty much telling people that I’m a student to keep it simple, but even that feels weird.

I’m a student for nearly 3 weeks of intensive lessons and what do I have to show for it?!

I felt like I couldn’t back that statement up. Ok, sure, it has been 3 years away from the language, so I can’t really expect much. Then why?

Why spend time and money struggling with something that causes a degree of stress and you won’t even make huge gains in for a month?

I questioned my purpose a lot this past week. I blame being sick and not being able to sleep well for my extra lack of motivation. My returned health has brought me new vigor and the ability to answer my own question.

  • I want to learn Russian and these past 3 weeks have gotten me further along than 3 months of normal study. It’s a great kick-start to the regimen I have planned when I return to Australia.
  • I like the challenge, even though I often complain about it. My brain is actually working again after a couple of years of not-so-challenging blogging.
  • I wanted to do something different after being in Australia for so long. I wanted to return to Bishkek. I wanted to have an adventure while doing something to improve my skill-set (or at least attempting to).

I have a purpose. I just have to remind myself that I’m doing what I want and that language learning doesn’t happen at the same rate for everyone.

Read my previous updates on learning Russian:
Thinking in Russian (2 Weeks Update)
Russian by Candlelight (1.5 Week Update)


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4 Responses to Questioning One’s Purpose: Thoughts During Week 3 of Russian

  1. Roy Marvelous November 23, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    I had to google where Bishkek was. And I’m still not quite sure where that is. Good luck with it!

  2. DanielW November 24, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I feel your pain, I have been studying Russian at home for the last two years using both Pimsleur and Michel Thomas cds, I have just moved onto Ruslan. It’s damn annoying when I feel so confident using the cds but when I speak to Russians I can barely understand what they are talking about. It seems I need 10 seconds to process and translate the conversation, by which time the topic has changed and I look like a bystander.

    Talking on the phone is even worse. Isn’t Russian the most direct, uncompromising and abrupt language ever? I am convinced that the most common word in this langauge is “нет”.

    I spent ages learning from the cds but after my visit to Ukraine in October I have taken my foot off the gas, I am self employed and have spent the last month spending time on my business. I am back in Ukraine for Xmas (both of them) so will kick start my Russian then.

    Good luck with your learning, it’s a damn sod of a language but it will be worth it once it’s mastered. One day you will be able to converse smoothly, book tickets, refuse home made vodka, tell officials you accept their bribe and generally chit chat like a local 😉

  3. DanielW November 24, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    BTW – I took a few photos from my trip to the Crimea, feel free to browse.


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