Today we started our Russian-language classes; they run from 9:30 to about 1:15 in two 1:30 sections (пары). My first class was grammar; this went well, as everything was in Russian in spite of the fact that about half the group doesn't know any grammatical terms in Russian. We spent about 10 minutes figuring out that we were talking about adjectives (the teacher doesn't speak English, but rather only Russian and German, so we had to talk around everything that was unclear). I didn't learn much grammar (I'm quite familiar with adjectives by this point) but at least it was good practice in listening and speaking. We were given a handout on participles to read for the next class, so that at least held some promise. Of course, the handout (evidently from a textbook) was only mildly useful, as the excerpt explained everything about participles (types, endings) except when to use which type, which was kind of the important part.
The second class was phonetics, which was fairly interesting. We were given a booklet of songs (Не фонетика - песня! / "Not phonics - songs!"), each of which goes over some sort of phonetic device; this one was called "Shi-Zhi-Zhi". We listened and sang it to the tune of the teacher playing the guitar. The chorus goes "A zhuzhi zhuzhat: zhu zhu zhu zhu zhu" (The beetles are buzzing: zhu zhu zhu...etc) and so on. For me though, the hardest thing is rolling the "r" in various places.
After lunch, John Bailyn gave a lecture on Russian which was fairly interesting, and went over some interesting interactions between various letters vis-a-vis softness/hardness (e.g. in English: due vs. do have soft/hard 'd' sounds), and spelling rules.
After this lecture we watched a film (introduced by Timur, who introduced many films last year), called "Man with a moviecamera" which was a silent film which was sort of about everyday life. When that finished we split off and went to various restaurants; I went with the Sbarro group, not surprisingly.
Writing the English takes enough time, so I'll just skip the Russian journal entries