Excuse me. *cough* We have a special announcement to make . . .
I did it! I successfully completed the 8 week program and am now spending a few day at home with my family before I go back to school.
This was honestly one of the hardest things that I've ever done. I am not a language scholar by any means, it has always been something that I have struggled with (despite the fact that Russian is my third foreign language). And two semesters worth of information in two months was more than I thought I could handle. In many ways it was, but thanks to the patience of my professors and a lot of hard work I managed to pass.
Let me pause for a moment to explain something here. I am a very good student. I'm not bragging. Just simply stating a fact. I've often said that I was not blessed with the natural intelligence in the family, but I have always known how to work hard. This has made me at times a pretty boring person, but has stood me in good stead as I make my way through school. I really don't know how to be anything other than a student. So when I started school in Pittsburgh and started failing after the second week I didn't know what to do. And honestly, try as hard as I might, I didn't get much better. It sent me into a major tailspin. Here I was spending the last of my savings on a crazy course that I wasn't going to succeed in.
However, now that it is over and I'm not always looking over my shoulder expecting to get yelled at for speaking in English, I think I can say that it was a very valuable experience. I really did have a lot of fun when there was no panicky grade knowledge, and I learned a ton (for example, I'm wicked fast with my Russian-English dictionary). As my dad reminded me, I wasn't going there for a grade, or even to learn how to say "I like cake" (мне нравится торт), but to give myself a bit of an edge when it comes to doing research in my chosen field. I have very strong opinions on the necessity of language to understand cultures, and so it is very important to me that I be able to research Soviet youth in their primary language. While I still can't do this, my summer in Pitt has helped me advance towards this goal, however small the steps may have been. I now know that I truly love the Russian language, and hope to keep studying, if for no other sake than my own (I just wish I had a Tardis to make this acquisition a little easier).
It was a hard summer for a lot of other, non-academic reasons too. But the roommates were not as bad as last summer's and I think an invasion of giant slugs (They were all over Oakland. It made the paper) in a second floor apartment still doesn't beat last year's flood. And I made some great yarnie friends who were actually sad that I had to leave. Summers are traditionally a time in which I work myself sick and have my perspective grounded by experiencing how inadequate I can be. But overall, it was an awesome summer. Just better in retrospect than execution.
And I absolutely love Pittsburgh.