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I think I have written about this before on here, but here goes anyway:
Yesterday, our program leader told me that one of the program assistants, who hails from Ukraine and with whom I’ve been speaking Russian, told him that I speak, for a foreigner, perfect Russian. And, for whatever reason, I can think of very few compliments I’ve received that have made me smile as earnestly as this one.
And today at lunch the kid on this program who was born in Ukraine made fun of the accent that I have when I speak Russian (I’m sure you (oh, YOU) can imagine how much I loved that), and I responded that of course I speak with an accent in which certain sounds are over pronounced, because it is not my native tongue, and I actually have to think about the sounds that I’m making. And when he said that, at this point, I must not need to really think about how to pronounce words as I’m speaking, I could honestly respond that no, I don’t. I just speak Russian now.
I wouldn’t and couldn’t have had either of these conversations three years ago. Or maybe even one year ago. But coming to Germany and learning German intensively has made me proud of my Russian and the work that I put into it to be able to call it my Russian. And I write this not to brag (disclaimer: it’s partially to brag), but because it is a nice reminder to myself, while stumbling over baby German, that learning a language is hard and frustrating and seemingly futile, but having learned a language is none of those things.