"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~W.B. Yeats
I knew that St-Peterburg is a historic jewel, filled with architectural treasures, home of one of the world's largest museums, Ermitage, urbe cosmopolita, melodic and monumental by its nature; but the beauty that the city is revealing is absolutely stunning! Having been only acquainted with its visible artistic sites and observed the interactions taken place in public spaces with the eyes of an outsider, I really look forward to learning about the invisible gems of the city and listening to personal tales of culture from the voices of my learning partners. Here is our course project for the upcoming weeks:
Pushkin, former Detskoye Selo (Children's Village), located 24 kilometers from St-Peterburg has been chosen as our first destination!
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” ~ Anaïs Nin The Diary of Anaïs Nin
Learning about the traditional and avant-garde Sankt-Peterburg -golden in its autumn lights and thriving and vibrant at night- from the best storytellers in town.
Stories are paradoxically unique and universal: they exist within us, they define us. Stories allow us to reflect on our personal trajectory, understand the complexities of life, and develop an awareness of the variety of voices involved in authentic narratives.
Kudos to the Sankt-Peterburg Polytechnical University for becoming part of the World Cities Network and hosting such great academic gathering this past September; specially to my colleagues in the Institute of Applied Linguistics for generating meaningful conversations on Global Culture and for inviting me to be part of this international dialogue.
“... in St. Petersburg, the most abstract and intentional city on the entire globe." ~F. Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
“Difficulties strengthen the mind”, Spanish philosopher Séneca said –no wonder he was a Stoic! I must admit it: the Russian language is truly testing the limits of my brain, and attempting to scratch just the surface of its personality is posing a massive challenge. I expected it? Yes! I feel overwhelmed? Sí! I am embracing it? Да
Russian is a very complex language. It keeps its distance at first with the Cyrillic alphabet –that can be written in block print and cursive script, and your teacher expects you to learn both, конечно! It has a very demanding sound inventory –in which some consonants can be hard or soft, vowels can be stressed or unstressed but the accent is mobile. It teases you with its gender capricious behavior and a grammar ruled by verbal aspect, and it doesn’t believe in the value of articles.
Nevertheless, the Russian language seduces you with its labial and sibilant sounds such in the soothing shaslivo (happiness), with a grammar that explores the full potential of words through declension, and a sophisticated lexicon of untranslatable words such toska:
Toska - noun /ˈtō-skə/ - Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.
My language learning ride has been challenging and provocative. I am relearning my world with clumsy strokes of Russian, I am in an state of disorientation that can only hope is transient; but I must trust the child in me, the most potent muse of all, to embrace the rhythm of learning, to keep playing with words and making mistakes. До скорой встречи!