Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 12 - Lena's Birthday!

Monday was Lena's Birthday! I had no idea what to get her, but on the way home, I decided to get a couple flowers at a flower stand in the market. I had to ask around a bit to find someone that would help me, but eventually I found someone that spoke English that was willing to help. She pointed me in the right direction of the flower stand (which humurously enough was just around the corner from where I was at at the time, and then I went. The people working there seemed really busy, but they let me pick out the flowers I wanted, I payed them to their price (which was cheap, but still I think I could have gotten the price down if I had time and wasn't so hungry), then went back on my way with a trio of flowers in my hand. Lena really seemed to enjoy the flowers, she gave me a hug and thanked me. We even got some pictures of Julia, Lena and me with the flowers.

Later on, we all started getting ready for going to a restaurant. I had no idea what kind of restaurant, but everyone was dressing in their best clothes. We got a ride there in Lena and Sasha's friend's car, and the whole time there I was joking around and playing with Julia. We got there and the table was set full of plates on stands with this really fancy food on them, I wasn't sure what everything was, but there were salads, meat, cheese, bread, fish, vegetables, and so much more I can't even remember. We ate sort of "family style" passing around the plates of food around, I was actually quite full at that point, so I tried to just take a little bit of most everything. It felt just like thanksgiving, except for instead of turkey and cranberry sauce on the table, the food was exotic. Anyways, enough about the food; I had a sort of "aha" moment on Monday. The adults were all sort of on their side of the table, and I was sitting down at the other end with Julia and a few others. I realized that when adults are talking to adults (in Russian) they are very hard to understand. When adults are talking to children, they use hand motions and facial expressions. I often feel like a child trying to learn this new language. I only know basic words, and I read very slowly. But I'm wandering if the reason children learn languages so quickly is in part because of the way people talk with them. They repeat themselves over and over and they make most all of their words into sort of actions. It was especially easy when they were talking to the little two year old. The little toddler could probably still speak way better Russian than me, but I actually understood what they were trying to say when someone was talking to her, which was pretty exciting for me.

One more thought; when Lena told me we were going to the restaurant, I was thinking "Great! We're leaving around 6:30, so if we eat even for an hour, we'll be back home by 8:30." But this meal was not a just-one-sitting event. People came and went (probably to take a smoke or bathroom break) and then came back again, but all in all, we were at the restaurant for around 3 or 4 hours. It was really quite an experience; people toasting every now and then to something (probably Lena, because it was her birthday and all), the kids entertaining themselves with dancing and running, everyone talking in Russian or Ukrainian (at this point, I'm still not sure of the major differences), and an overall very friendly atmosphere. We got home really late, but I was really glad to still be a part of the event.

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