Several people have emailed and asked how the classes are coming along. Well, since the people that asked are studying Russian, I will get into the specifics: They have really picked-up in pace recently. In grammar we will have covered numbers and non-prefixed verbs of motion in just two weeks.
This sounds easy, but as an example, the word "one" has 13 different ways of being written. For each case (i.e. nominative, genitvie, prepositional, dative, instrumental, accusitive (animate or inanimate)) the word "one" is written differently. The "one" (or any other number) must agree is gender and number of what it is quantifying. So the object can be masculine, neuter, feminine or plural. So really, there are 22 options of how the word "one" can be written. Of course, it sounds funny that there is a plural of "one". But some objects (i.e. jeanS) are only found in the plural, not in the singular.
Motion verbs are an equally tricky subject... Just take my word for it.
I am spending more and more hours every night in the battle to keep ahead of the classs. Aside from the grammar which I have described above, I am taking several other classes. I have honestly found that Schaum's Guide to Russian Grammar has been tremendously helpful. It conscisely and clearly details everything that we have covered thus far, and will likely do so for the entire year that I am in Russia. I have used it as my auxillary source of information to my class-textbook and as my primary source for my independent study of other areas (i.e. verbal adverbs or formation of the compound comparitives).
Phontetics have also proved to be tremendously difficult. I would rather learn phonetics by listening/talking to Russians. But this, in the end, will prove to be helpful in my pronunciation of the Russian language. We essentially take words (usually poems, etc) and put the words into photetic form. Phontetic form is how the dictionary writes words, to show exactly how they should be pronounced.
I met with one of my Russian friends last night and went over phonetics and grammar for a couple of hours. Conveniently, she has recently completed her degree in teaching Russian to foreigners. So the time was very well spent!
This Friday we are taking an excursion to the neighboring village for a couple of hours. Next week we are off to Suzdal. And in a couple of more weeks, we go to St Petersburg for a week!