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French and Russian undergraduate student, trying my hand at the real world.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Russian Weather

Hello chaps,
As a stereotypical brit abroad, I am writing today about the weather. On coming to Petersburg with no really knowledge of what to expect, weather wise, I felt completely unprepared. I had this notion that as soon as August 31st struck, everyone would be donning their shapochkas and bear fur boots and polishing off their snow ploughs in anticipation of the first snows of September 1st.

I could not have been more wrong.

My mother is going to be dead annoyed when she comes out to visit in the near future and finds she is unable to wear her specially purchased thermals. It is actually quite hot.

I know, I know. I have been eaten alive by mosquitoes, as I mentioned in an earlier post, which shows that the temperature has not yet dipped low enough to polish them off. People have been walking around in only jumpers. *Only* jumpers. Needless to say, I am hugely disappointed by the lack of shapochkas on the street right now - Piter, you’re just not trying hard enough. My friends and I have decided though that we will commemorate the first day of snow by having hot chocolate in the Singer café on Nevsky Prospekt. The Singer café is on the second floor of Dom Knigi – the House of Books – which is the most amazing bookshop in Petersburg. It overlooks the Kazan cathedral and their hot chocolate is apparently incredible. I guess we can compare it to taking tea at Harrods!

One of my favourite things though is the rain in Russia. In Kazan, it absolutely bucketed down on a couple of occasions and the city took on a new Tolstoyan ambience. The pine trees by my babushka’s house made the whole street smell fresh and the light dispersed through the clouds over the top of ulitsa Lenina hill, making the statue of Tukai look particularly dominant. Perhaps this is where my taste in pretentious Russian literature comes out most specifically, but I find the rain in Russia most poetic.

I’m finding these days that Russian comes more quickly to me than French, which is hardly surprising and rather reassuring given that I’m here. I’ve been working on my first French blog for my schools project and I’ve been having real difficulty staying in the correct language. Yes, I know this is completely pretentious and you all hate me now, but it is unfortunately the case. The word for “main course” came almost instantaneously to me in Russian, as the blog is about food in Russia and France, but I had to google translate the French as I simply could not think of it. It’s going to be interesting swapping languages in January!

It is strange though how the brain works in those who speak more than one foreign language. It is as if one has an internal dictionary from which words are taken when they are needed – which can mean that the occasional “ninja” word from the wrong language can escape from your mouth when you least expect it. Put simply: I made a complete prune of myself the other day when “s’il vous plait” somehow found its way out of my mouth without warning, at which point the security man looked at me blankly and responded “chevo?!” (whattt?!). Not cool.

Also the bus that stops outside my room in the hostel sounds like it sneezes as it stops. I’ve also found it rather difficult to contain my sniggering in a particularly intense grammar class at how completely ridiculous emergency sirens sound around here. They sound like toy cars.I cannot possibly hope to replicate this one on a blog – I guess my only advice is to come here and hear them for yourselves!

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