So, how have classes been going? Well, they divided the American students into four groups based on langauge level. During orientation, everyone who wasn’t in the lower two groups had to talk to a couple of the professors, so they could decide if we should be in group three or four. I assumed I’d be in group three, as I assumed it equated to third year level of study (and I’ve completed two at Oberlin) and I really didn’t think I said that much that was complex or interesting in the little oral exam. My placement in group three, to me, was a no-brainer.
I ended up in group four.
First day, first class: conversation: let’s talk about economics! Hoo boy. It was difficult, mostly because it seemed like there were tons of words I didn’t know. I didn’t say anything in class. Second class: grammar: much better. I understood what was going on, and the professor is hilarious. Then we had lunch and the homework/film/game hour and then choir. I talked to a couple of the other students in group four (there were seven of us to start with; one ended up moving down to three), and they were having a hard time, too, which made me feel better. (I think the students who seem to be doing really well have either (a) had three years of instruction or (b) spent last summer and all of the last academic year at Smolny.) In the process of doing my homework the first night, I looked up about 100 words. Tuesday night, and tonight so far, was/has been a little better. Also, after class on Tuesday, I talked to the conversation professor, and she said I just need to ask more questions and ask them immediately when I don’t understand. I’ve heard that a lot the last couple of days, the ‘stop me immediately when you don’t understand’. It’s hard to do.
From Wednesday (I'm writing these at home and posting at school):
Today, groups three and four were mixed together, with two sections of grammar in the morning and phonetics in the afternoon. I’ve never had a phonetics class before, and it felt like a strange combination of a language class and the part of choir where the director teaches us how to say lyrics in foreign languages. I had a hard time thinking up questions to use to practice intonation, but overall, it went fairly well.
From (real) today (Friday):
The first politics class was today. I understood most of what the professor was talking about, and I think it's going to be a very interesting class, and a good fit, both interest-wise and language-wise.
Tonight I'm going to go put some money onto my phone so I can make some local phone calls, because tonight is a big celebration for the end of the school year (not for me, but for most of the rest of students in St. Petersburg), and tomorrow is Smolny's commencement. Should be fun. Now - I'm off to choir.
The other fun news:
My parents are moving! To Columbia Heights! While I'm gone! Our new house is going to be really white; I hope they get some paint up on the walls soon...]
Oh, and I'll post pictures later, when I have more time. They're on my computer; I just need to go to choir right now.