Interacting with my host family has changed a lot over the course of the semester I have spent here. When I first came to Russia, I had trouble understanding what they were saying to me, even simple things such as being called to eat. When I did understand what they were saying to me or asking me, I would have trouble coming up with up with responses. After the first couple days the stress of being in a new and challenging environment wore off and I was able to begin understanding and responding to questions better.
The language barrier wasn’t the only problem I overcame during my semester in Russia, I also had problems with the cultural differences and social interactions with members of my family. My host would feed me more food than I was used to at home and I was worried about not being able to eat what my host put in front of me. After a few days this worry passed and as my time passed here, I became more able and more comfortable telling my host what I could eat and telling her that I didn’t want any more when she asked or tried to put more on my plate. I also became more comfortable telling my host that I didn’t particularly like a certain dish.
At times it would seem like my host was becoming upset at me or that members of the family would yell at each other. One time in particular, one of the members of my host family was talking to me and became really excited and started to yell and it seemed to me like he was becoming angry with me, but then he would start laughing like nothing was wrong. At first, these interactions confused me and made me a little uncomfortable, but soon I realized Russians are more expressive than I was used to and when it seemed like my host was becoming upset with me, it was just that she wanted to make sure I was taken care of and that she was worried about something.
Now that I have been in Russia for several weeks, I have noticed a few changes from when I first came. I am able to understand my hosts a lot better; not just when they ask me simple questions or requests, but when they talk about what just happened in the television program we were watching or about the weather, or other similar topics. I have noticed that I seem to be less of a guest and more of a member of their family. My host constantly asks about how I am and how things went at school, she makes sure I am healthy and when I wasn’t, she took me to the hospital. She becomes excited when she hears I did well in class and with my improvements in my ability to speak Russian.
When I first came to Russia and started to live with my host family, I was nervous and felt a little uncomfortable, but the longer I’ve stayed in Russia and with my host family, the more comfortable I’ve become.
By: Andrew Glossner
Term: Spring 2012