Handmade in Russia

Russia is one of the few European countries to keep a crafts – ремесло (remeslo) industry very much alive. This activity, developed on a large scale in the nineteenth century, has continued to flourish through the years without losing its authenticity. One can find some of these handcrafted objects – предметы (predmety) in museums, but in reality, they are still used daily by Russians. Luckily, the most emblematic places where these objects are manufactured – производство (praizvodstva) are close to Moscow and can be easily visited. However, please note that prior booking – предварительная запись (predvaritel’naya zapis’) for your visit is often mandatory. Read more

,

On the go

We know about the legendary Russian hospitality – гостеприимство (gostepriimstvo). What should you expect if a Russian friend invites you to his house for an impromptu dinner?

The Russians like to talk about the “Olivier salad” – салат оливье (salat oliv’ye), created by a French chef in Russia in the 19th century and who jealously guarded the recipe for a very long time. The Soviet version of his dish which became Russian again included various ingredients, but the usual ingredients are potatoes – картошка (kartoshka), ham – ветчина (vetchina), Russian pickles – маринованные огурцы (marinovannyye ogurtsy), and mayonnaise – майонез (mayonez). Read more

,

Well-housed

Once you have found your apartment near your school and / or your work, it is good to know the key players in the maintenance of your building (who is in charge of the keys, the electricity, the maintenance, etc.). CREF will explain the words and phrases you will need that will put you at ease in your new environment.

Read more

,

Diminutives are not so small

The Russians are fond of diminutives. To understand it, it is easy to see that Vovotchka – Вовочка, is short for Vova – Вова, which itself is the diminutive of Vladimir. Even if the use of the diminutive is sometimes tricky if one is not Russian, it is the knowledge of these “little things” that will make you a true connoisseur of the language.

Read more

,

The Soviet apartment

A fun new recreational fad has invaded the Russian capital. Quests – квесты (kvesty) – are life-sized puzzles which challenge you to get out of a room in less than an hour by solving a series of puzzles – загадки (zagadki) and logical problems. Each quest has a backstory, and immerses you in a particular universe. The first to be installed in Moscow took the theme which probably is the most familiar to Russians, that of the Soviet apartment – совесткая квартира (sovestkaya kvartira). Once you push the door open, you will find yourself in the interior of a typical Soviet apartment, 50 years in the past. Read more

,

Tips to help make your traveling easier in Russia (or anywhere!)

Are you about to go on a trip? It seems that the best way to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything is to pack your suitcase two days before your departure – за два дня до отъезда (za dva dyna do at’yesda). Other small, useful things to do in advance – заранее(zaraneye): Read more

,

Organically yours

Incredibly high-calorie, oily chebureki (чебуреki – chebureki) and Chicken Kiev (котлетыпо-киевски– katlety pa-kiyevski) full of butter no longer appeal to your appetite with the coming of bathing-suit season? Are you looking to lose the pounds you put on during the winter? Do you want to just say ‘no’ to junk food (едавредная – vrednaya yeda)? CREF gives you some useful advice on eating organic in Russia.
Read more

,

Don’t just say ‘no’

It goes without saying that if you want to take linguistic courses at CREF, that is three times да (da)! But there are situations where one must stand firm in one’s opinions and beliefs. A ‘no’ – нет (net) might do the trick, but here we offer how to add a little nuance to your refusal and learn the art of the polite refusal – вежливый отказ (vezhlivy atkaz). This expression, by the way, is the name of a Russian rock group. Read more

,

At the Museum

Looking for a way to liven up your Moscow weekends? A good way to discover Russian culture – русская культура (russkaya kul‘ tura), it is to visit one of the many museums – музеи (muzei) in Moscow.

Should we mention the classics? The Pushkin Museum – Музей имени Пушкина (muzei imeni Pushkina) with its collection of European art, the Tretyakov Gallery, or “Tretyakovka” for short, and its exceptional collection of Russian paintings from Russia’s historical beginnings, and finally, the Kremlin Armory – Оружейная Палата (Oruzheynaya palata) forms a trinity of Moscow museums that cannot be missed.

Additionally, you are spoiled for choice, from the Museum of the East – Музей Востока (muzey Vastoka), to the smaller museum of the Moscow Metro – Музей Московского Метрополитена (muzey maskovskava metrapalitena). You are sure to find something to brighten your leisure hours – досуг (dassug). Even with a basic Russian vocabulary, you are sure to have a wonderful time.

Read more

,

Spring Cleaning

Believe it or not, spring has been here in Russia since March 1. “It never ceases to amaze foreign students who still see snow everywhere,” says Olga, a Russian teacher at CREF. But Russian schoolchildren are not surprised to see a illustration of rooks on a snowy landscape in spring, ‘The Rooks Have Come Back’ by Alexei Savrasov, in their textbooks.

Read more