Meet Neri, an adventurous Floridan living in Moscow!
We met on Instagram, where Neri shares beautiful photos of her adopted city and lots of clever observations on language learning. But she is far beyond simply captioning photos in Russian – in fact, she maintains a blog written entirely in Russian! Read on to learn more about Neri’s travels in the country and tips for learning Russian…
Neri, what’s currently your favorite word in Russian?
Probably, to this day still достопримечательность. There are other words I’ve learned that are also amazing like чрезвычайно but достопримечательность still holds a special place.
Do you use Russian for work?
I’m currently working for a Russian company that sells products on the US market. I use Russian everyday to communicate with colleagues and I’m also doing a masters in Moscow and my program is in Russian.
How long have you been learning Russian? What first drew you to the it?
I’ve been learning Russian for quite some time. I often count my first time abroad as when I actually started learning Russian- so about 6 years. I was always fascinated with Russian as a child and only got the opportunity to learn it in college. Maybe because I was interested in cold war history and space? I am from Florida so there’s that. There’s not one moment I can remember where I decided to learn Russian. I even wrote a blog post about why I choose Russian and I don’t think I gave a real answer.
Have you ever had your level of Russian tested?
So funny thing, I’ve done practice tests for B1 for B2 as for university you need a B1 level but I’ve never had a paper with a stamp telling me my Russian level. It’s kind of ironic that in a country that loves its documentation and stamps I don’t have one. I should get one though.
What’s it like getting your master’s degree in Moscow?
It’s been a challenge. I love that I am constantly learning something new and growing in my language abilities, as what I have to write or even communicate is not the Russian I use in everyday life or what I was taught in classes. There are days where it’s really rough and I ask myself why are you doing this? But then it passes.
What’s something about the Russian language that you think is misunderstood?
That it’s a harsh and very rough sounding language. I think media has a lot to do with how Russian is portrayed and it’s usually this menacing sound. I love the way Russian sounds and I love the way words can be formed. For example, the other day at work, I had to translate a Russian text and in English it became this really long sentence and my coworker asked is there a way to shorten it. I responded no, Russian word formation is brilliant.
Which Russian cities have you visited / would you like to visit?
I’ve lived in Saint Petersburg and in Nizhny Novgorod and went to a lot of the surrounding towns on day trips. I’ve been to Tula, Vladimir, and Suzdal. I want to go to Volgograd, Kazan, Vladivostok, and Ekaterinburg. Honestly, any city in Russia I’m okay to visit.
Is there anything that you really struggle with, like grammar or pronunciation? Do you have a plan of attack for improving your skills?
Oh, grammar is something I still struggle with and will probably continue to work on. It’s one of those things where in exercises I can do and remember the rules but applying when I speak and when I write that’s the difficulty. My personal goal is to get better at writing in Russian and that’s why I started posting stories and made my Instagram account. Pronunciation is another skill I want to improve on. At the moment I read texts aloud and record myself and send to a friend, so she can help me correctly pronounce words.
If someone wanted to improve their Russian quickly and only had 15 minutes a day, what would you advise them to do?
Games, I love филворды. I’ve learned so many words and my passive vocabulary has definitely improved, and I got some stories from it.
I would also recommend podcasts. I often listen to them on the way to the metro and although I never finish a full episode, I do get a good 10-15 minutes of listening in. Meduza has some great ones and I listen to калькулятор and Розенталь и Гильденстерн
Neri, спасибо большое for sharing your story! I hope you continue to have a wonderful time working and studying in Moscow. And I hope we’ll be able to meet up in person someday and speak Russian together! 🙂