Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Я еду в Россию скоро! I'm going to Russia soon!

I haven't been blogging much the past few years (since I started my business, really), apart from a cluster of posts during TIFF last year. But I'm headed to Russia in ten days, and that seems like a good reason to get blogging again. I plan to post updates from my trip, some in Russian (copying/pasting into this configuration of Google Translate should help when reading those parts).

I have been asked if I'm concerned about the security situation in Russia, given the recent bombing in Volgograd and the threats made against the Olympics by the Dagestan rebel leader. I'm not ignoring what's going on, but at this point I'm still planning to go. Bad things happen all over the world, and I have not called off trips to New York because of terrorism there, or trips anywhere in the US, where shootings are almost a daily occurrence. I guess I'm trusting that the unprecedented security precautions taken by the Russian authorities will be effective. And I am aware that I will be under surveillance - physical and electronic - much of the time I am there

I'll be in Sochi (в Сочи) for the second week of the Olympics, attending 10 events: men's & women's hockey games as well as a couple bouts of short-track speed skating. Then I'll head to Moscow (в Москву) for 10 days, followed by a week in St Petersburg (в Петербурге).

I've been studying Russian for the past two years. That sounds like a long enough time that I ought to be pretty fluent by now, but Russian is so hard that I'm not quite there. I have a pretty good grasp of the fantastically complex grammar, and can read and write somewhat decently. I'm sure I'll be able to find my way around and make my needs known. Listening to native Russian speakers at full speed is the hardest part. Hopefully that will improve quickly when I'm there, but right now I still get deer-caught-in-the-headlights-face at times when my Russian instructor rambles on, or uses a word or two I have to stop and think about, only to realize that another sentence went by while I was thinking!

Thank you to Anya and Irina, the two instructors who have gotten me to where I am now.
Спасибо Аня и Ирина, двух преподавателей, которые помогли мне узнать много уже.

I spent some time pondering which of my too-many gadgets to take along on this trip. The nominees were:
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Kindle
  • laptop 
  • digital camera
In the end I managed to winnow this down to 3 of the devices above, plus a new one! 

One friend suggested I leave the Kindle at home, and make do with reading books on the iPhone or iPad. He thought that would work well enough if I only expected to read a couple books on my trip. I told him I expect to read a couple books on the plane. The Kindle was the easiest decision, as I read a lot, and don't want to lug a lot of books around with me.
I've decided my iPhone is a better camera than my current digital, and it's not worth upgrading to a better one. I expect there to be some free wifi in Sochi and the other cities, so I may be able to connect and keep up with email on the go with the iPhone as well (but roaming will be OFF!).

I'm leaving the laptop at home, and will manage with my iPad for videos on the plane, web surfing and other communication. I'm trusting my staff at work to take care of everything while I'm gone, so the few things I can only do on my laptop shouldn't be an issue. 

The one thing making me hesitate about that laptop was the issue of offloading digital photos from the iPhone. With a laptop I would just plug in the iPhone and transfer them all over. Without the laptop I can rely on iCloud to back up my photos, but that makes me a bit nervous. So instead I picked up another small device. It's basically a device that sets up a local wifi network that my iPhone can talk to, and allows me to plug in SD cards or USB memory keys. That lets me transfer photos off my iPhone to the memory keys, and also lets me store TV shows and movies on memory keys and then watch them on my iPad, giving me more entertainment than will fit on my iPad. Oh, and the device is also a backup battery to recharge devices that run low. Pretty cool, not too expensive, and nice and small/light.

My posts from Russia should start around February 16th, when I arrive in Sochi, or soon after, when I have regained my senses after jet lag. In the meantime I am continuing to gather all the little things I'll need for my trip, and so far have resisted the urge to pack everything right now.

Next post:


  1. you are 100x better prepared on the language front than most north american's showing up for the games. they will speak slowly for you!

  2. I know, but it's still a little frustrating that I'm not fluent after so long. If this were Spanish (about 100x easier to learn than Russian), I'd be way further ahead. In fact I may still be more fluent in Spanish from a 1-term night class and some traveling than I am in Russian now!

    Maybe I can pick up some free drinks by helping out those who don't know any Russian!

  3. Your Russian competency, whatever level, is going to be such a crowd pleaser!! Trust me, it will take you far!! So exciting that you are going to be there at the games - thanks for sharing it with the rest of us through the blog. Ah, vicarious living - I have the right friends for it! :)

  4. Heh. Long ago I was fascinated by the supposed relationship and siimilarity of the Finnish and Hungarian languages. At least until much later I read that they were as similar as Russian and English/French.