Russia top, Germany flop… But great world cup!

And so quickly is my time in St Petersburg over and it’s time to go home… Just like for ‘Die Mannschaft’ 🇩🇪 yet in a completely different mood. I want to express my gratitude to Russia 🇷🇺 for a truly perfect organisation of FIFA18 and to my friends for many moments with great emotions that will life on forever. Ahead lie 2,5w in London, motorbike license and more refurbishing work before I finally get back outdoors. First up is project ‘Canoe 🛶 Elbe: Usti n.l. ➡️ Cuxhaven’. Much to prepare.

School – much to learn still… 🤓

School was ok though it is also clear that from B1 level its gonna be a long and hard way to progress. Textbook suggests 320h towards B2 in total – I have barely 50h behind me. Let’s see how far Skype classes get me. Definitely need more vocab though grammar is beginning to make sense. The improved language skills this time definitely suggest its worthwhile the effort.

An epic thursday night prevented me from any other studies than how to recover. But given it’s the only day I skipped, its ok. Also managed to catch up with my Skype teacher Daria last week in a nice Georgian restaurant (and thankfully with signficantly less impact on my ability to attend school the next day).

More football – WTF Die Mannschaft! 🇩🇪 

Amidst a lively week only one thing remained consistent and was sadly the poor performance of the German national team. No hunger, no pace, no ideas… In a way I am glad its over. It was really hard to watch for any football fan.

Well done to Sweden for a convincing performance against Mexico and to South Korea for laying bare how bad the German side was. Well, at least Colombia 🇨🇴 went through.

Russia 🇷🇺 kicking a$$ – Защищай 🔫 

The complete opposite was the Russian team that gifted me and my friends an unforgettable last night in Russia by kicking out Spain. The level of the game was low. Russia defended with all they had, Spain had few ideas to break that iron curtain… And lost on penalties.

Emotions in our favorite football venue, the corner pub, went wild. Even more on the underground and on Nevskiy Prospekt later on. Memories forever. Bodo & Steve saw the game live in Moscow before taking the night train over to St Pete.

Felix the beast & Russian rugby

Felix plays in a St Pete rugby team for a few years now. To most of my Russian friends the sheer existence of this sport in Russia was surprising. So we took Felix up on his invitation and watched the battle of the titans. Despite our full support they lost. Well, a liter of beer will help Felix to get over it 🍻

Bit of sightseeing as well

It was not all about football, rugby or school though. Apart from hanging out, watching football and school I also managed a bit of sight-seeing. It was a cold saturday morning, but enjoyable to refresh some city facts in the busiest free tour I have come across.

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Back in St. Petersburg

Hello Russia, hello FIFA 2018 world cup, hello friends! The first week flew just past me over here amidst a mix of a heavy school schedule, two live matches, many good friends to catch up with and time with the grandparents of my son. Sightseeing simply has to wait.

Mexicans everywhere…

Arguably i was a little tired on the red eye flight over from Ibiza, a party skewed weekend and an unexpected loss of Germany. It didn’t exactly boost my mood that I had to skip my connection to St Petersburg in Moscow due to luggage transfer delays nor did the Mexican’s everywhere help. Thankfully I was undercover in my Zenit shirt 🙈🙉🙊.

Russian welcome: Olivier & Cognac

I am staying at my son’s grandparents this time. Helps the progress in Russian, time to watch football with Viktor (even Larisa is interested) and gives us some time to talk as far as my Russian capabilties allow. First evening as usual a big dinner including the traditional salad olivier and, of course, cognac. Good to have Russian meals back on the menu.

School – starting at B1 level

I have, at least on paper, by now reached B1 intermediate level in all three languages in have studied since last year July. Arguably I struggled most to get there in Russian despite the tremendous patience and weekly skype efforts of my teacher Daria who I have weekly skype classes with. Thanks to the unnamed soldiers for their help with the tests 😎.

On top of the weekly efforts, the extra exposure to spoken Russian with family, friends and ‘farm’ people in Issad have problably made a difference. Grammar still needs a lot of work, but i am hopeful as progress feels very good and I feel comfortable in class by now despite a certainly narrower vocabulary than most of my classmates.

My group consists of mainly US students (most of which have been at the language for almost 3y). First test (mainly dative & instrumental cases as well as public holidays) also went well with 87% score. I miss my group from last year though. Its not as much fun though more intensive owing to lower student count (partly seasonal, partly due to prohibitively priced accomodation during FIFA18).

Football in large daily doses

First up of course very enjoyable live matches – Russia / Egypt (3:1) with Ekaterina & Hadley and Brasil / Costa Rica (2:0) with Yuri & Daniel. All is very well organised here, transport infrastructure more than capable of dealing with the many visiting fans and athmosphere very nice (especially around Nevskiy and Rubishteina).

Besides live gigs, we meet regularly to watch games together – be it at home, in retaurants or bars. Germany’s last minute win still weighs on my voice. Great times, great guys. Really makes a difference to know people on the ground (eg the complete opposite of my early days in Amsterdam).

Enough for now. Germany 🇩🇪 is playing soon. Auf geht’s Jungs!