Here is what 7 months of intensive Russian has gotten me: Enough to get me in trouble, but not nearly enough to get me out.
S and I are planning a vacation in Moscow. One key ingredient of this, of course, is a visa. A local guy from the office told me to call a particular travel company for help. He suggested talking to Elena– but told me two Elenas worked there: one who spoke English and one who didn’t.
I called and a woman answered. “May I speak with Elena”, I stumbled in my 7-month Russian. “Which one?”, she asked. “The one who speaks English”, again in my 7-month, job-related, Russian. “She is busy. I will help you”, she helpfully answered.
Here is what we learned today: my little Russian made her think that speaking to me in Russian at top speed was great. Also, that I could understand her when she gave me her email. She thought this despite the fact that I forgot the word for email. Also, the secretary had to come write down the email for me.
I emailed (in English). However, my earlier Russian has doomed me. She responded with 7 word documents, including forms, all is Russian.