blog photo

I can read!

18 March, 2016

5 days of Ukrainian lessons a week are really paying off… now I’ve got to focus on vocabulary acquisition and pronunciation.

I had to read a dialog this morning from “Teach Yourself Ukrainian”. It’s not my favourite text, but Svetlana goes deeper into detail and gives more useful examples of the grammar, so I tolerate it. It’s become clear that finding the right tutor is way more important than anything else I’ve used to learn a language.  This is the second time I’ve used this book with a tutor and I’m definitely warming up to it. Still don’t like it, but it’s become easier to use.

I sped through reading it and my pronunciation wasn’t half bad. I still talk like I have a mouthful of marbles and certain sounds are beyond my reach - SURPRISE! They’re the same sounds I couldn’t pronounce after 3 years of French classes in school - but I can make myself understood. I think part of my problem is that the lessons are pre-coffee and I’m not warmed up enough. I think that if I sang along to Ukrainian music in the shower, that might help. Hmmm… now there’s an idea!

Speaking of Ukrainian music, I had a minor (major?) breakthrough.  I was going through this book of 9,000 Ukrainian words and kind of picking and choosing what words I wanted to learn. I saw the word “пробачати” and BAM! Something clicked in my thick head. I’ve heard the word before - probably about elebenty kajillion billion times - and I thought about the song I heard it in. It’s Тік - Для мами (video)

The lyric that was running through my head was: Пробач мені комусь присвячені пісні // Я їх співаю знову й знову.  Now I know that it’s roughly “forgive me [something, something] songs // I sing them again and again” I was so excited by the revelation that I basically squealed like a kid on Christmas and did my happy dance. Music is definitely the key to stringing words and definitions together. Now I know what that line means, I’ll understand it every time and it will get so much easier.

True story: Svetlana and I were going over things you’d find in a room a few months ago, and when she moused over the wall, I practically yelled “стіна”. (Мені подобається Океан Ельзи!!!)

But to go back to my original topic: at the end of today’s lesson, Svetlana congratulated me for doing so well. I said that I hoped I could keep up the progress тому що Я відвідаю Львів у листопаді. Yeah, the first half was in English but I finished strong.

Also, Я відвідаю Львів у листопаді! Я відвідаю Львів у листопаді! Я відвідаю Львів у листопаді!

I can’t wait for this trip!

On a more somber note, today is the 24th anniversary of my mother’s death. My relationship with her was short and more complicated than a parent / child relationship has any right to be. Some years, the anniversary is easy… and some years it’s hard. This year is the hardest it’s been in a very long time. She’s the person who gave me my Ukrainian blood, and I’m still angry that she didn’t teach me more about her culture. STILL. If I had known how soon I’d lose all contact with my Ukrainian side, I really would have soaked up every single second I spent with my grandparents. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20.

I think the reason it’s been hard is because I’m going to Ukraine. I’m going to see where my grandparents are from. I’m going to put the last piece of the puzzle in its place… but I’m honouring my grandparents. NOT her. As far as I’m concerned, I magically appeared in my father’s life. Like I said, it’s complicated.

I went to register my car today (Це мій день народження в неділю) and I got so angry at the Town Clerk. I have a vanity plate that says “UKIE”. The clerk asked me what Ukie meant, so I told her it was short for Ukrainian. She asked what Ukrainian was. I said it refers to people from Ukraine. And then - AND THEN - she asked me where Ukraine was.

I know I live in a little, redneck, white trash, suburb of Boston, but really?! It took all my energy to be a successful adult and not say something ridiculously snarky. I really wish I knew what was wrong with this country… I don’t want to live here anymore. I really don’t. I’ve been joking (not really) that I may forget to come home from Lviv. Technically speaking, I am a Ukrainian citizen through my grandparents, and all I have to do is live somewhere that’s not the US and then renounce my US citizenship in order to claim Ukrainian citizenship. I may never be able to come home, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

I think I’ve stalled enough. It’s time to get back to creating my new Memrise course.

Filed under: Culture, My Experiences, Education, Practice, Travel, Ukraine

What you had to say...

Be the first to comment!
Questions? Comments?

Comments on this entry are strongly encouraged - especially if they're in Ukrainian!

Please Note: I reserve the right to edit or remove any comment that doesn't add any value to the conversation.

Thank you for your comments!