Met at Liden & Denz – Lodovico Simone

Lodovico Simone is working in Italy as financial consultant. He has been learning Russian with Liden & Denz more than once. Here is his story:

Why did you decide to come to Russia to study Russian? I decided to come to Russia because I thought that was the only way to improve my knowledge and to be able to speak Russian better than if I hadn’t come. And also, you know, to get better acquainted with the culture!

Which places have you visited in Russia? I’ve been six or seven times to St Petersburg, two or three times to Moscow and visited Veliky Novgorod, Vladimir, Suzdal and that’s it so far! Novgorod is definitely worthwhile visiting, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I visited everything that I should have visited. It’s interesting but you have to take into consideration that you’ll be travelling two and a half hours to get there, but it’s worth it! Just don’t go if the weather isn’t nice! Make sure you visit the monastery there.

A lot of people consider learning Russian to be a challenge. Do you agree with this statement? Why? It is a challenge! In my life, I’ve learnt many languages: it’s not an insurmountable challenge but it is a challenge, yeah. Basically, I found myself a teacher in Geneva where I live, and we went through the grammar rather systematically and I started learning two and a half years ago. I study it almost everyday, because it’s such a challenge, and if one is not prepared to be absolutely methodical about it, you may as well forget it. It’s nothing like Italian, and the way I look at it, if there’s something Russians could have made difficult about the language, they try very hard to make it difficult! It’s complicated, but worth it. Including Russian, I speak five languages, but I’ve learnt more than that and I’ve never been turned away or afraid of a language. The most exotic language I’ve ever studied is a near-Eastern dead language called Hittite, that was spoken in ancient Anatolia.

What sort of impression did you have of Russia and Russian culture before coming here? And how did it change after arriving here? I didn’t really know an awful lot about Russia. I’d read quite a bit about the history and the culture and I’ve never really been confronted by many Russians so I was under the impression that there are many myths about the country and the people, so I just decided to go out and find out whether they were true or not! There are some stereotypes about Russians in Italy that seem to be widely shared among other European countries that they look cold and a bit grim and that they drink massive amounts but none of that is true – they’re all silly myths and I can vouch for it otherwise I wouldn’t have come back!

How has Liden & Denz made your experience in Russia better? Anything specific? I’m here for two weeks this time and I’ve been here many times – every time I’ve come to St Petersburg, I’ve come for a course at Liden & Denz. My first time in Russia was in Moscow with the Liden & Denz centre there. The fact I’ve come back many times means I highly appreciate the way they do things here: I compare them to when I learnt German at the Goethe Institute and in my view they do as good a job as the Goethe Institute when they teach. They’re very professional, systematic and they drive students pretty hard and do, as far as I’m concerned, a very good job. It’s a good combination of Swiss and Russian professionalism and thoroughness!

Do you think a knowledge of Russian will benefit you in your future? I learnt Russian because I love languages and I was attracted to learning more about the country and culture and to read the literature in the original language which has already benefited me and helped me become a better person.

What is the most unique thing about Russia that you have experienced here? As I said, all the myths turned out to be false so I can’t say that there’s anything really unique that I’ve experienced, so far!

If there is one thing that you will never forget about your time in Russia, what would it be? I would say that I’ve met people I would have never thought would be so rich inside, and would talk about things that interested me so much. Once, in my area here, I struck up a conversation with a chap, who I never thought could talk about The Master and Margarita (see our blog post here about this famous Russian novel), and at the end of the day, even a chap that maybe wasn’t that well educated could enlighten me, so I’ll remember that.

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