Enough to get me in trouble

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.



  1. now that is an achievement – congratulations. i know russian is much harder than spanish but i can somewhat relate to this story since i spoke no word of spanish before coming to chile and remember very similar situations in my first year here. speaking on the phone is so much more difficult then face to face…..

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