Russia Journal: The sign language

It’s white, and it’s in the shelf where most of the dairy products are. That must be milk.

In colors, universal symbols and sign language, and merely less than a dozen Russian words, I’m getting along with my daily life in Moscow. I’m here for a two-week student exchange program at Moscow State University’s journalism department.

I’ve traveled to many places—on assignments and vacations—but Russia seems very different—different in the sense that no one speaks the languages I speak.

It’s difficult when you’re travelling to a foreign land, and especially to a country where people rarely speak English. Russia is probably the first place that I’m having trouble communicating. No one speaks English here, literally.

This makes the entire traveling a challenge—a little but of fun, a little scary too.

This morning I took the metro by myself. During the entire trip, I was counting the number of stops—sixth stop from where I take the metro leads to central Moscow, where my classes are. All the signs are in Russian, and it’s pretty difficult to figure out where you actually are. But I have tried and memorize some of the Russian alphabets—at least the ones where I have to get on and off the train.

Ordering at a restaurant seems to be an ordeal. Last night, I went to a pub along with my friends. This is how we ordered: using the universal hand gesture for a menu, then looking for some words that has some English resemblance. But the menus had pictures of all the food items, which made the task little easier. However, it wasn’t the same case for drinks—after a bit of a struggle, we did manage to order some pints.

At the supermarket, it going gets tough. I tried picking up some food items but had to drop them down not knowing what they were. The labels are entirely in Russian. So I picked up some fruits, chocolates, bread and noodles that had a label with chicken—I trusted my instinct on this one. It has to be chicken-flavored. I shall find that out tonight.

As for now, I suppose, I will keep speaking in English and keep hearing “niat-niat.” And for me, Russia might be a good place to practise sign language and sharpen my instincts, if not anything.

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