Olivier, who is a 45 year-old software engineer from Switzerland, is currently a student at Liden & Denz in St Petersburg. In this interview, he tells us about his current stage in life and his experiences in Russia.
Why did you decide to learn Russian and why is it a point of interest for you?
My passion for Russian started in 1989. I was spending four months in England and I met a lot of people there who were arriving from the Eastern European States. When they spoke Russian together, I was amazed by the language and decided that I must learn it!
A lot of people think that learning Russian as a foreign language is a difficult challenge. What is your view on this?
Speaking is much more difficult for me than reading or writing Russian. That does not stop me from trying to speak Russian wherever I am in the city though! My host family has helped me the most in my opinion. I am trying to speak as much as I can, because I often forget Russian words and end up saying them in English instead!
What advantages will your knowledge in Russian language and your stay in Russia bring to your professional career?
In a CV, it’s always good to show that you know many languages. It also shows that you are a person who wants to progress, to learn new things, who is open minded and interests himself in matters other than the things linked to his job. It would be really great to find a job where I could use my Russian. It’s by far the best way to progress in a language when you can use it professionally.
Have you tried authentic Russian cuisine here?
I have been to two authentic Russian restaurants. One was called Русская Кухня (Russkaya Kuhnya) and the other was called Квартирка (Kvartirka). I now often go to these places because I loved the food so much! I don’t like cooking myself so I prefer trying new dishes in new restaurants.
Would you like to develop your skills in Russian further?
I really want to develop my skills, yes. I don’t know how I will do that but I am lucky because I live in a region of Switzerland where there are many Russian-speaking people. It should be easy for me to continue to speak Russian at home! I already have a few friends at home who I have been speaking Russian to.
Why do people call Russian an exotic language?
The writing and the sentence structure of Russian seems very exotic. The grammar is very different to what I know as someone who knows only Western European languages. French, German, English and Italian have similar sentence structure while Russian has no static order and it is just the ending of the word that is important.
Which experiences have made your stay in Russia unforgettable?
Generally, I like to live in big towns and so I love St Petersburg as I have not been bored once. There is always something to do. I especially love St Petersburg because of the beauty of the city itself. I was in Moscow 20 years ago and it was a good town, but St Petersburg is exceptional in comparison. It is why I chose to come back to St Petersburg.
What will you miss the most about Russia when you go back home?
The atmosphere. It is difficult to describe because it is something you feel, not something you experience. I can’t describe why I love it so much here but it is the atmosphere that I will miss.
28 October, 2014