Updated: Dec 22, 2022
I did well enough during my interview to qualify for the advanced graduate course in Russian.
But boy, was I a nervous wreck!
First of all, I thought the rule at Duke was that we had to wear masks inside due to community spread and all that. So when I got to the languages building and realized I didn't have my mask on me, I walked all the way back to my car on the 5th floor of the parking garage to grab one.
I'm not sure the exact temperature outside at the time, but I'm going to estimate at least 50 degrees Celsius.
Okay, so maybe it was only 33. It was still pretty freaking hot outside, and I took the long way 'round when I went to the languages building the first time. By the time I was stepping up the stairs to get to the Russian part of the building, I was soaked in sweat. And I don't mean that in a silly, cute way.
I mean I was practically swimming in my dress, it was so drenched.
Anyway, on top of wearing a wet rag, I was about thirty minutes early. And, as most people know, that is a little too early. I did intend to get to Duke extra early in case I got lost on my way to the classroom, but I did not intend to be spotted so early.
So there I was, dropping in on what seemed like a meeting, and saying, "Hi! I am way too early, aren't I?"
They were very nice about it and got me started on the written exam while we waited for the Russian examiner (Lena) to arrive.
Upon receiving the written work, my mind almost went completely blank. The fifth or so question asked me to translate "garden," and I was at a complete loss. Such a common word should not be so hard to translate, right?
Let's not even get started talking about the time questions.
Where did all that practice with Natasha go? Why do I even have weekend lessons with a native speaker and university professor if I couldn't remember the word "garden?"
Then the spoken part happened. I spoke a total of two, maybe three sentences. She spoke half in English and half in Russian. All that speech writing and practicing in my head for me to tell her, "I can speak either in Russian or in English" and "I've been studying for seven years."
That's all I could manage? What about my goals for the Russian language? What about all the silly stories I'd prepared about my family, my dog, my cat, my knitting?
It was over in a flash, despite it actually lasting a little over an hour.
And somehow, after all that, I got to enroll in the advanced course.