I’ve learned a few things while in Central Asia. I’ve learned that when I think I’ve gotten some Russian down pat, I’m probably saying it in a cute American way, and not the actual, correct way. I’ve learned that I need to ask before assuming something is milk. I’ve learned that everyone here knows how to say “Hello” and “How are you?” and most will shout it at me as I walk down the street… and then not understand my reply. Most of all, I’ve learned to be flexible.
Case in point: yesterday, there was no water anywhere on campus for some reason, and it wasn’t going to be turned back on for an indeterminate amount of time (it was turned on later that evening, but I didn’t know this). So, time passed, and I needed to use the restroom. Well, unlike America, you can’t just walk into a random store or restaurant and use their bathroom, so I walked to one of the malls near campus. Round trip walking, plus resting at the mall to do some homework, took about 3 hours of my afternoon. Fortunately, Wednesdays are my freest day (God’s provision). But I’ve learned to always be ready for new and unexpected things on the horizon.
I’ve met many new and unexpected friends here, often when I’m planning to do the simplest things: do my laundry, walk to buy some peppers, get my room key from the dorm mothers, sit in my room and study. Making connections with people is so wonderfully easy and I praise God for it. Many of my new friends speak intermediate to excellent English, but some are on a level comparable to my Russian (read: bad). But God is teaching me that friendship can transcend language barriers. I’ve gotten quite good at charades, and our gatherings are filled with games that require no speaking; dancing transcends language; and even music requires no translation to enjoy. Friendship is easy. You just have to be flexible. :]