Written by Blaise Nicklas, an Edinboro University Junior
A little over two weeks ago, one of our Russian friends, Katya Belayaeva, asked all of us if we would like to spend the weekend in her hometown of Ozyory, about 100 miles southeast of Moscow. We all jumped at the opportunity to see life in a smaller Russian city outside of the capital. So on Friday afternoon, after class ended, we hopped on the metro and made our way to a station on the outer edge of Moscow. At the bus station, Katya helped us buy our tickets and soon we were on our way to Ozyory.
After a three-hour ride and a short walk, we arrived at Katya’s parents’ apartment in the late evening.
There we were greeted by a delicious dinner of mashed potatoes, bread, soup, and hot tea prepared by Katya’s mother, Tanya. Because it had been a long day, we went to bed shortly after dinner. Saturday morning, we had a quick breakfast and then left to visit Katya’s former high school. We met with some of the teachers and students and introduced ourselves; we also took questions from the students. And yes, the students did have classes on Saturday. After a tour of the school, we returned to the apartment for a hot lunch of bliny (traditional Russian pancakes) and borscht. The consistently tasty meals prepared for us by Katya’s mother were a recurring theme of the weekend. Later that evening, we met Chris’s pen pal, Lydia, at a local sports park, while Katya, Aidan, and Malisa went ice-skating at the park’s ice rink. Lydia just happened to be from Ozyory, so Katya was able to help Chris finally meet her.
We spent Sunday in Kolomna, an ancient Russian city founded in 1177. There we toured the heart of the city, seeing the kremlin and several beautiful cathedrals. We learned about the history of Kolomna as a stronghold that protected Moscow from foreign attackers. The day passed quickly, and soon it was time to buy our train tickets for the return to Moscow. We thanked Katya’s parents for their hospitality and made our way to the train. The weekend in Ozyory and Kolomna was an excellent experience and we would all love to repeat it in another city during our stay. [Webmaster's Note: See the "Photo Album" link at the top right corner of this page for some pictures that include the students' trip to Kolomna. Specifically the first 18 photos in the slideshow of the Photo Album are from Kolomna.]
Also in this Issue...
- The Alphabet Is the Easy Part by Chris Olvey
"Russian is not always that simple. Probably one of the most difficult grammar themes in Russian is the case system. What is a case system? That is what I asked in my grammar class. In English we do not have cases, making it difficult for the English speaker to learn Russian."
- Poor Footwear Choices Weekly by William Nelson
"My boat shoes, which have no traction on the bottom, provide for excellent slippage, poor moisture resistance for the slush, and also have no insulation for when it’s cold. Blaise opts for a pair of Adidas sneakers, which also have the same poor characteristics of my boat shoes."
- Please Pass the Bliny: Celebrating Maslenitsa by Aidan Lowe
"Bliny, which are thin Russian pancakes, represent the sun and are feasted on during this week. They are served warm with a variety of toppings, including butter, sugar, sour cream, caviar, or mushrooms."
Issue Photographer: Chris Olvey
Issue Reviewer: William Nelson
Written by Chris Olvey, a Clemson University Junior
Since my first semester at Clemson, I have taken Russian language courses. I took Spanish in high school, but in college I was looking for something a little more exotic, and Russian fulfilled that wish. First, to stamp out any myths, Russian and German are not anything like each other. Russian is classified as a Slavic language, whereas English and German are both Germanic. The alphabet is known as Cyrillic, named after one of the monks who helped create it, and it contains 33 letters.
Although Russian may look intimidating by its appearance, it really is a very logical language. Russian grammar is quite complicated, but once learned, almost every word fits perfectly into the system. Translating Russian is often like working on a math problem or cracking a code because of this structured system. The Russian language also does not use articles. When speaking with my Russian classmates, they all say that learning articles is the hardest part of English, like knowing when to use ‘the,’ ‘a,’ ‘an,’ or not even using an article at all.
Oddly enough, the Russian language also does not use the verb ‘to be’ in the present tense. So, if I want to say that I am a student, in Russian it would literally translate to “I – student.”
However, Russian is not always that simple. Probably one of the most difficult grammar themes in Russian is the case system. What is a case system? That is what I asked in my grammar class. In English we do not have cases, making it difficult for the English speaker to learn Russian. Cases affect nouns in a similar way that conjugations affect verbs. This means that, depending on what part of speech a noun is in a sentence, its ending may change. Using one of Blaise’s favorite foods as an example, we will consider the Russian word “kapusta.”
Kapusta is mostly made from cabbage, with some carrots and has a sort of sweet flavor. Kapusta actually changes its form when in Russian when it is the direct object. Like if I were to say that “I love kapusta,” kapusta would change to kapustu. Russian has a total of six cases and can make life somewhat confusing in the middle of Moscow.