Today our leading theme was literature. First of all, I asked Chris if he knew who Pushkin is, and he said it was vodka. I was very surprised, because I didn’t even know that thing like that existed! The reason I asked Chris in the first place is that Pushkin is a really, really famous Russian poet. He’s constantly being called “the sunshine of Russian poetry”, which probably is correct, but you get kinda annoyed after hearing that for 13849320th time. And Russians, especially pupils and students, do get that a lot. He was great, his poetry was great, but in the beginning of literally every school year literature teachers would spend like a quarter or two (till winter, if you are lucky, or till the New Year), telling you his biography over and over again, with more details every year, and then you’ll have to learn his poems by heart. Classic scenario. So of course you expect this person to be worldwide known after that, but when I asked my Finnish stepdad about him, he only shrugged. And well, Chris couldn’t tell what a person Pushkin was too xD So basically he was cool and all, but nobody outside Russia (well, maybe also Ukraine and Belarus) knows him.
We also spoke about other Russian poets and writers, like Esenin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and we noticed that a lot of them were either alcoholics or abusers or something like that. If not, most likely they were shot on the duel before they got a chance to turn 40 (or even 30 in Lermontov’s case). Also suicide was a common thing among Russian writers, take a look at the same Esenin, or, for example, Mayakovsky.
Then we switched to talking about German worldwide famous writers, like Goethe and Schiller, but I don’t know much about them and only read the Goethe’s Faust so far. But there were a couple of German writers that I, and probably most of the other people around the globe, did know. They were the Grimm brothers. As we talked about them, we realized how their fairytales were really cruel and scary. Of course, back in their time or earlier it was needed, because parents had to set the right rules in child’s mind, and the psychology methods that are used for it today were not discovered yet. However, some of those fairytales came to us with little to almost no changes, and we read them when we were children, too. For example, I told Chris about Russian folklore characters: Baba Yaga, an old witch who kidnaps children and sometimes eats them, and Koshey Bessmertniy, who’s not that evil, more like Hades from Greek mythology. He just kidnaps princesses from time to time and looks a bit spooky.
It is truly fascinating how even though we read really creepy stories in our childhood, most of the creepiness was forgotten and didn’t cause any trauma or anything like that.
So today was our last meeting for the EOTO course. I don’t know if we’ll keep those “meetings” like they were, but I know one thing for sure: the course helped me gain a lot of cultural exchange experience, I’ve learned a lot about Germany, the Germans and their lives. And, most importantly, it got me a good friend! First I was very nervous to volunteer when Chris said he needed a partner for this course, but I wanted to dive into German culture and language so badly that I did it nontheless. When we just started our meetings we were barely familiar with each others, and now we got comfortable in communicating, and we chat a lot. I hope someday in 2021 I can finally meet Chris and other friends of ours in real life. But for now I’m certainly grateful for the experience that I got, thanks to EOTO! 🙂