Sprinting Toward The Starting Line

4 Aug

The Peace Corps has moved up my staging date from September 27th to September 25th; it’s not a huge difference except in the pressure I’m now feeling to start getting things together for my departure.

I ordered special luggage for the packing I’m only tentatively thinking about: http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?categoryId=35986&storeId=1&catalogId=1&langId=-1&parentCategory=4518&feat=4518-tn&cat4=2911 It’s supposed to be the lightest luggage for how much it can hold, so, more of my stuff than suitcase per 50 lbs of luggage [hopefully].  Yes, my mother ordered mine in pink plaid.  I’m already feeling as if other Group 37 Ukraine volunteers are labeling me the frou-frou one of the group, so they might as well get the full show of my personality upfront.  Equal parts fashionista and human rights activist.

Slowly but surely, I’m building up my Ukrainian vocabulary.  The blows to my language learning ego are coming in four progressive steps:

1. “Learning French was so much easier than this,” my mind screams at me as I toil over flashcards.  Yes, it was; too bad that’s a moot point.  Granted, had I been able to go to Africa in line with my Peace Corps nomination, I would be much further in this process as I have a solid foundation in French.  I am where I am, however and the basics of Ukrainian have to be hammered into my Parisian-leaning brain.

2. H=N, P=R, and B sometimes = W.  Learning another language would be vastly simpler if unlearning your own language weren’t required.  I’m not starting the language learning race yet [what else can it be called when condensed into three months of classes?], I’m still sprinting toward the starting line.

3. I can read that word!  Too bad I haven’t the tiniest idea what it means.  I’m 75% on this step in the process.  I’m a flashcard-making machine.  I now have the oddest Ukrainian vocabulary including; дерево (tree), хлопчик (boy), холодний (cold), сорочка (shirt), журналітс (journalist), церква (church), шоколад (chocolate), село (village).  Not to mention the first glimmers of understanding masculine, feminine, and neuter objects in Ukrainian as well as how to refer to each of these objects as “mine/my,” “yours/your,” or asking “whose  _____.”

4. I’ve been working out of a particular Ukrainian language book I picked up at Barnes & Noble, which happens to have accompanying audio CDs (of native speakers).  Hence, the “that’s not at all how I was saying it” frustration.  The pronunciation of one letter of the alphabet is entirely impossible to convey in writing, though my book attempted with the suggestion that it could be equivalent to a “kh” sound.  False.  Also, it sounds as if the language is spoken without opening your mouth anywhere near as much as one does with English.

I know I’m making progress, albeit slowly, but at times it feels uncannily like one step forward and two steps back.

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2 Responses to “Sprinting Toward The Starting Line”

  1. love/for/words. 4 August, 2009 at 21:19 #

    I hope that this is a good experience for you and good luck with learning Ukrainian.

  2. Tara 4 August, 2009 at 22:32 #

    Well, it sounds like you have the tools to slightly start grasping Ukranian. It’s that whole other alphabet that really screws with you. The audio CDs should be a tremendous help.

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