New Language Challenge: Russia Here I Come!

  • Donovan Nagel
    Written byDonovan Nagel
    Donovan NagelTeacher, translator, polyglot
    🎓 B.A., Theology, Australian College of Theology, NSW
    🎓 M.A., Applied Linguistics, University of New England, NSW

    Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator. Founder of The Mezzofanti Guild and Talk In Arabic.
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  • Comments10
New Language Challenge: Russia Here I Come!

Off to Russia

G’day from sunny Dubai! 🙂

Today I’m finally able to share my exciting new language challenge with all of you.

I’ve been dying to tell everyone actually but had to make sure the visa was going to come through this time (which it did! :)).

I waited about 2 months to get news on my last visa application for one of the most difficult countries in the world to visit but unfortunately it never came through after all that waiting.

I was really disappointed!

Let me tell you that as a blogger nothing is worse than going long periods without producing new content.

So I’m in Dubai now on a New Years vacation for two weeks at the Palm Jumeira (the man-made island in the shape of a palm tree) with an interesting new host family from Russia.

After our two weeks here I’ll travel with them to Russia where I’ll begin intensively learning the Russian language to fluency. I aim to be very fluent in Russian by the time I leave (not sure exactly when that will be yet).

Apart from the insane cold that I’ll have to adjust to I am really excited about my next move!

UPDATE: I successfully became fluent in Russian but ended my work contract early there because the family I worked for were a total nightmare. Read more here.

Starting Russian all over again

I studied Russian for a few months about 9 years ago and apart from a small bit of exposure I had to it back in Georgia, I’ve not studied it since.

Apart from the alphabet and a few basic expressions, I feel like I’m starting from scratch on this one.

I’ll be using the Assimil Russian book and Earworms Russian to get started, and when I arrive in Russia in the first week of January I’ll start my lessons through a private teacher and of course italki.

I’ve already started getting to know the maid and other staff of the family too who don’t speak any English so I’ve been able to pick up quite a bit of Russian in the two days I’ve been here which has been great.

As in Korea, being around the kids a lot is enormously helpful as well.

Of course as always I’ll produce progress videos and get video of the people I meet and the interesting part of Russia I’m moving to (far from Moscow and St. Petersburg) after I get settled there. This is as much a cultural mission as it is a language mission for me as I want to really connect and assimilate with the community I’m moving to.

In the meantime, if you have any recommendations of resources for learning Russian or suggestions on places to see/things to do in Russia I’d love to hear it!

Since I don’t have a lot of free time to blog here in Dubai I have to make this short but stay tuned for more updates soon.

Merry Christmas! 🙂

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Let me help you learn Russian

Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek


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Dimitar Vesselinov

Dimitar Vesselinov


I’d like to share with you some general and Russian learning materials.

Language learning with computer/video games:

Прохождение Assassins Creed: Revelations


Good luck with your mission in Russia!

Kirill Chernyshov

Kirill Chernyshov

Nice! As a native Russian speaker, I can tell you that this isn’t an easy task. You’ll have to deal with 3 declensions and 3 genders of nouns that decline in 6 cases, a very weird verb formations (some verbs can only form the perfect and future tenses) and strange case usage (Russian uses the Genitive way too much for some strange reason). Also, probably unlike any language you’ve ever encountered, in Russian an adjective does *not* always agree with its noun in gender, number and case, as it would in Latin or Greek.



Cool to see you attempting another difficult language. Will you be working on the side with this one or just flat out language learning?

I was looking forward to you eventually doing some kind of wrapping up post about your time in Korea. What kind of level you ended up with, what you learned about the place and its people etc....

Donovan Nagel

Donovan Nagel

I’ll just focus entirely on Russian at least for a few months although I am hoping to spend my holidays up around Murmansk which is a Sami area.

I never made it back to Korea unfortunately. Something came up on the day I was supposed to head back. I’m really hoping there’ll be a few Koreans where I’m going in Russia (surely there will be!). Once I get settled in my new apartment I’ll continue to post on Korean as well.




What city in Russia?

Donovan Nagel

Donovan Nagel

A small’ish city called Kazan.



Donovan! I don’t know if you remember, but I am a HUGE Russia enthusiast, so this mission of yours fills me with equal parts delight and envy! ;) If you’re interested, we could Skype and practice a bit of Russian before you go (or we could talk in English and I can tell you random stuff about Russia). Shoot me an email if you’re interested. I’m hoping this comment system lets you see my email address. If not, there’s a contact page on my website. :)

Donovan Nagel

Donovan Nagel

Yea I’d love that.

I won’t get time in Dubai but when I get to my new place in Russia let’s arrange a time for sure. Thanks :)



Excited to hear about your new project! I’ve been learning Russian intermittently for a year and it’s absolutely my favorite language! Look forward to hearing about your progress!

Donovan Nagel

Donovan Nagel

Thanks a lot, Erin! :)

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