Met at Liden & Denz – Pierre Billon-Lanfrey
17 October, 2013
Pierre Billon-Lanfrey works in a hotel in Biarritz in France. Here is his story:
Why did you decide to come to Russia to study Russian?
It was an idea of mine. I have always thought that Russian is an interesting and beautiful language. So, I talked to my boss and she agreed that it would be useful for my work, because we have many Russian guests at our hotel.
A lot of people consider learning Russian to be a challenge. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
Yes, it is really hard, of course, but it depends on how much work you are willing to put in to it. I do not think the pronunciation is difficult, but for a French speaker, the grammar is difficult, because we do not have many of the cases. So we have to learn it from scratch.
What sort of impression did you have of Russia and Russian culture before coming here? And how did it change after arriving here?
Honestly, I only had a picture of Russia in my head as having very Soviet style buildings and such. And when I first came here, I took a taxi from the airport to the center and saw the soviet buildings I expected to see, but once I came to the center, it was much more classical European style. As for the people, I thought they were not very friendly at first, but soon I saw that they were just as friendly as anyone else in Europe.
How has Liden & Denz made your experience in Russia better? Anything specific?
I had studied Russian at a different language school in St. Petersburg a year before, and I would definitely say that the teachers at Liden & Denz are much better than at the other school.
Do you think a knowledge of Russian will benefit you in your future?
Absolutely. Everyone relies on translation technology now and its getting better, but I don’t think it will ever replace speaking a language for yourself. That is a priceless skill, because if you can speak the native language of someone your trying to talk to, you will have a connection with them you cannot get with technology. Especially in business, this is very important.
What is the most unique thing about Russia that you have experienced here?
I think just the general feeling of feeling safe has been unique. In many European cities like Paris, you can walk down the street and feel in danger. But after studying here in Russia for 5 months, I actually feel safer than most other places.
If there is one thing that you will never forget about your time in Russia, what would it be?
Nevsky prospekt. Whenever I’m in the city center, I’m always reminded about the unique layout and architecrtue of the city. It’s so diverse with buildings like Dom Knigii having such an interesting style. And of course i’ll miss all the great restaurants!
Steve Hendrickson is an American student, currently on an internship while at the same time studying Russian at Liden & Denz