Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Times and the Bad

This past weekend in Vienna was great. There was a graduation for last year class (dull stilted speeches), but it was quick and followed by a very tasteful reception. Then things got taken down a few more notches in the Academy's bar where there was dancing and drinking well into Saturday morning. I have to say I had a really good time. The people are really interesting and good natured. I kind of knew everyone already so it was just great feeling like you knew everyone but had an opportunity to get know people better in a less formal environment. Also, I found me a Kazakh and got to brandish a little Kazakh and then speak in Russian for a while.

Then Saturday was 'the long night of the museums,' basically just a night when all of Vienna's museums are open till 1:00 am and there is one cheap ticket for all of them. A group of us hit up seven of them, including the Esperanto museum, Royal Treasury, and Modern Art Museum. It was really fun and it was great to have so much cultural activity on a Saturday night (it would be amazing if New York did something like this).

Then on Sunday the academy took us out into lower Austria for a wine tasting. It was pretty and there was a lot wine to be had. They have a drink called 'Sturm' (Federweisser in Germany), literally 'Storm,' which new wine that is still fermenting and is very sweet, very good. Again though what made it wonderful was the people. It was just nice to have a scenic backdrop for talking to people in the different programs. The academy is small (only 120 students) but right now it makes everything intimate (as opposed to incestuous) and it has been great. You can say I've been being wined and dined. I'm a fan.

Today though wasn't fun. I had wasn't able to sleep much and was up at 7:45 for French. Even worse is that I had had a crazy dream playing on all sort of subconscious anxieties, the type where you are happy to wake up and find out it wasn't real. So basically I woke up tired and grouchy and then had to sit through three hours of French class, never a good mixture. Have to admit I am still not such a fan of the French teachers here, though, my gripe of the moment is that they don't seem to hear me when I give an answer and get the same answer from someone else three minutes later. I would speak louder, but they told us not to talk forcefully. Also French phonetics sounds like you are being verbally assaulted and you feel dirty and violated after having certain sounds made at you. So yeah I was getting pissier and pissier as time went on, and then afterwards I got to race across town to go to a Russian class, switching language gears completely from English/French, to Russian/German since a number of the students in the class weren't comfortable speaking entirely in Russian. It was a good class though (thank God! The teacher was from Southern Russian, I'm not sure but I think they are my favorite).

Do you read long blocks of text like my last paragraph? I don't, hence the new paragraph. So that was good and then I got to race back to the Academy for an Economics class, and then just and hour and a half later race and then run (literally) back to the university for another Russian class. Now I might mention this was four o'clock and I hadn't had time to eat today, didn't sleep well, had a bad dream, been switching language gears like crazy, and running across time, and when I get to my Russian composition class do I get a nice leisurely discussion about stylistics? No. I get an hour long timed essay. It was terrible and I wanted to die. I seriously hope the teacher doesn't think I'm not an idiot. Again, even in English I don't think I write timed essays worth reading. I certainly don't like writing them and I think that's the general spirit I put into those works.


ruth said...

my last timed essay in russian was somewhere along the lines of "liza is sad because erast left here, therefore she kills herself. when erast leaves liza she cries. then she jumps in the river. inconclusion, because liza is sad that erast left her, she kills herself."
in other news, whenever you say something right, even if it's меня зовут Рут, mara kashper exclaims умница! which makes me feel super smart even though she says it to everyone.

Barbarossa said...

Wow, praise for no good reason sounds amazing. thank you for clueing me in about the Moscow accent by the way, because I was seriously doubting my sanity. I was happy in the non-writing a timed essay class because the teacher was really friendly (even though I kind've had no right to be in the class) and the end after we read a text I didn't really understand asked me if the class was too easy.. My ego is easily stoked. Why can't I read or write in Russian? Why is it that no matter how many times I tell people my Grandmother is Ukrainian I on't magically get connected to the slavic language continuim?

ruth said...

i will be able to answer that last question of yours once i finish reading the 600+ page disertaion professer popkin gave me on ukrianian vs russian nationanality. it actually looks pretty interesting, if it were about 500 pages shorter.

p.s. if your ego needs more stroking (and whose doesn't?) next time we talk i'll play you a little bit of this kid from our class speaking russian. he's the new barry.