It is very interesting to see how far my Russian has come since June. I have been comparing my progress to a couple years ago when I was a missionary in the Slovak Republic. I was in a similar situation where we were all thrown into a new weird country with only a limited speaking ability. We had a strict schedule where we only had a hour a day of language study and then the rest of the day we were talking to people. With Slovak, being my first Slavic language, I would say it took about a year before I was able to speak and understand with ease. From my own assessment of Russian I would say that the time I have been here my progress with the Russian language has been equivalent to about 9-10 months of language progression while learning Slovak in Slovakia. Granted there are some similarities between Slovak and Russian, but nonetheless this program has been phenomenal.
Last weekend we had an excursion to Tartu. Compared to Tallinn I would still say that Tallinn has Tartu beat in overall beauty, but the people I met in Tartu were all wonderful. We got to Tartu around 1600 on Friday afternoon. After loading up our stuff we walked to the main square in the city center to meet up with the tour guide. I really enjoyed the main square — most definitely my favorite part of the city. We took a tour around to the University (which is also very nice) and up to the kissing hill, around the cathedral, and back down to the final monument. We then did some more exploring around the center and finished the day with an ethnic Estonian cuisine at a restaurant called Baby Back Ribs. As I said the people there are very friendly (a large student town) and during the short time there we all met some very nice people. I particularly enjoyed the excursion on Sunday. We left in the morning and went on a couple of yours in a couple religious sites/cathedral. I always enjoy seeing the many cathedrals around Europe. We then had a great lunch and spent some time at a lake. Some felt ambitious enough to swim in the cold water — I enjoyed the dry shore. While taking pictures we met a nice German family and we talked to them long enough for me to realize that I no longer speak German. Afterwards we drove home to start another wonderful week of intensive Russian. Thanks for reading!