What’s curious is that the Ukrainian student who comes to us from air raids and bomb shelters has a lot less anxiety than my regular students. She felt like an oasis of calmness.
Ours was by far the longest conversation I have ever had in my office. Usually, I get up and pretend I need to leave for an urgent meeting after 15 minutes at most. I get very antsy when I’m boxed in a small space with people.
The student said it was a relief to talk with somebody who understands sarcasm and doesn’t try to be nicey-nice all the time.
I just met our exchange student from Ukraine and we spoke for over 2 hours. I started thinking when was the last time I spoke in Ukrainian for that long and realized that the answer is never. There was never an interlocutor.
It was hard. Harder than in Spanish and about a million times harder than in English. The student is from a Russian-speaking family in Odessa but, as many people in Ukraine today, she switched completely to Ukrainian. Her parents are my age, and they are Soviet-nostalgic. She says I’m the first person my age she ever met who says there was absolutely nothing good about the USSR.
The student says she’s shocked by the US dating culture. And by how politically correct and constrained in their speech everybody is. She’s been here for 18 days, and already she’s noticing things.
I’m taking her out to a nice restaurant on Sunday because I have a profound impulse to feed the kid.