Well, today was our first day here without homework. This would have been a joyous occasion, except for it’s significance as a mark of our impending doom: MIDTERMS. We are in our fourth week in the lovely Narva, Estonia, and that means we are approaching the halfway point! Time flies when you’re having fun, and, oh boy, is it flying. Part of me still feels like we just arrived, until I remember that on day one I could barely remember how to say “Меня зовут Маша”. I know that my Russian has already improved drastically, and studying for this midterm is showing me how much material we have covered in the last month.
Even though every student here has a different background in the Russian language, from living in Russia, to Russian family members, or no ties to Russia at all, everyone is getting a unique and valuable experience from studying in Narva. Being immersed in a language is the only real way to learn to speak because you are placed in unpredictable situations everyday. Using formulated sentences or discussing a chosen topic in class can only take your language proficiency so far. Today at the gym, a man approached us and started pointing to our weights. First, he tried to speak in English, but then asked if we understood him when he spoke Russian. We said yes, and he proceeded to tell us about how much weight we should be using and how many repetitions in order to achieve the best results. It was a great conversation, and I am fairly certain that weightlifting is not a topic that we have covered in our textbook (so far).
As we continue to study for the midterm on Friday, I am keeping in mind how much we’ve learned, and how excited I am that we still have another month left here. No one is ever done learning a new language (we all have days where we forget how to speak even in English), so we just get to keep studying! Send us “Happy Midterm!” thoughts from across the pond!