Russian Language Blog

My Connection to Yuri Gagarin, The First Man in Space, and Other Fun Facts About Your New Russian Blogger Jenya Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 in Culture, language, Russian for beginners, Russian life

1. Yuri Gagarin and I are connected!

My связь (connection) to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, did not become apparent to me until I was 27 years old. Yuri Gagarin was the first Russian космонавт (cosmonaut). Gagarin received his training and met his future жена (wife) in the city of Orenburg. Coincidentally, that is where I was born.

Gagarin’s time in space was well documented in the film “First Orbit.” The film is available in Russian with English subtitles and is comprised of original footage from spaceship Восток (Vostok). Watching it or at least having it on in the background would be a good idea since it will immerse you in the language environment.

Helpful Tip! In my experience, listening to the language you are trying to learn, even if you don’t understand what is being said, is among the best ways to improve your word recognition skills. If you are not immersed in the language environment by being in the region where the language is spoken, create that environment yourself by simply listening to movies, shows or documentaries on subjects that interest you.

UPDATE! (In response to your messages)

Here is a link to Мосфильм Studio’s subtitled movie selection. These Russian movies are free to watch (смотреть) and download (скачать).
There is a button/link “Показать еще” (show more) at the bottom of the page. Click the link to see the full selection. I believe there are 64 films there. Most of them are pretty old but some are rightfully considered Russian movie classics. I will continue to look for more sources with newer movies & shows.
Below are 3 of my personal favorites
1. Джентельмены удачи
2. Исчезнувшая империя (The Vanished Empire)
3. Американская дочь (American Daughter)


 2. My место рождения (birthplace), Orenburg, is also known for its fine cashmere shawls.

Some of them are so thin that they easily fit through a ring. Nevertheless, even the thinnest shawls are pretty warm. Long goat hair that is used in the making of the shawls creates tiny air pockets. The air in the pockets stays warm, and that, in turn, keeps the wearer of the shawl warm.



3.I have spent two thirds of my life in Russia & Belarus and one third in Соединенные Штаты Америки (the United States of America).

Many things have changed in Russia in the decade since I left. The two trends that stand out the most, at least in my opinion, are Russia’s transition from a mostly cash to an increasingly cashless общество (society) and a significant increase of women drivers. 

4. Two things I can’t live without are my фотоаппарат (camera) and my ноутбук (laptop).

My интерес (interest) in communication began developing in fifth grade. After I started art school and was introduced to the great variety of art mediums and techniques, I realized that language was not the only way to express our идеи(ideas), мысли (thoughts) or чувства (feelings). As I got older and developed an interest in the English language, which is my second language, my perception and understanding of thought processes and information exchange expanded further. My fascination with how we communicate with each other, inside and outside of our own язык (language) and культура (culture), helped solidify my choice of major, which was linguistics. Later in life, my continuous desire for self-expression led me to mastering digital photography.


5. My favorite мультик (cartoon) is a Russian cartoon about Winnie the Pooh.

It has little to do with the original story. I wouldn’t even call it an adaptation. The only thing it has in common with the original source is the main characters. The cartoon, however, is among the most popular cartoons of the late Soviet era due to its lighthearted юмор (humor). Most Russian children of today still know and like it. Here is one of the three episodes (with English subtitles).   

Since we are trying to get to know each other and now you know a little bit about me, I would like to learn a little bit about you too! What are some of the things in Russian language or culture you would like to know more about?

С нетерпением жду ваших комментариев! ( I can’t wait to hear your comments!)


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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Khuzama:

    Wonderful, i enjoyed reading so much .. spasibo (^_^)

    • Jenya:

      @Khuzama Спасибо, Khuzama!
      Я рада, что вам понравилось! Приветствую любые пожелания по поводу будущих тем!(I am glad you liked it! I welcome all suggestions regarding future topics!)

  2. Joyce:

    Привет! Меня зовут Джойс,(Joyce). Я студентка и учусь на третьем курсе на экономическом факультете.
    I have always loved Russian literature and wanted to learn the language. I’ve been teaching myself for the past year and 1/2. I’m also hoping to go aboard when I graduate from college. Your blog posts are wonderful!

    • Jenya:

      @Joyce Joyce, большое спасибо! I hope you have an opportunity поехать (to go to) Russia one day! I believe being in the language environment is очень важно (crucial) when trying to learn a foreign language. In the meantime, feel free to visit this blog and see what Transparent Language has to offer. There is a whole community of people who are trying to learn Russian and a great variety of training materials! Всего хорошего!

  3. Samudro:

    Why do you transliterate your name with a J instead of a Zh? Zhenya is much commonly used transliteration, as it leads to a more accurate pronunciation.
    I am a native English speaker, born in UK, who has travelled in Russian speaking countries for 13 years, although I am slow to pick up the language so I find Russian Blog as a useful resource, Many thanks

    • Jenya:

      @Samudro Samudro,
      You are correct and I did try to introduce myself as Zhenya, however, too many people kept butchering my name and I got tired of correcting them 🙂 “Jenya” is much easier for people in America to pronounce. So, since this is what the people I know here call me, I spell my name with a “J”. Naturally, all my Russian friends and family still call me Zhenya.

  4. Lois:

    Женя, рада познокомиться! Я жила 10 лет в киеве, поэтому, русский язык мне не новый, но нужно не забыть его, поэтому читаю блог. Вопрос “Zh” или “J”, мне кажется, не очень важно; все равно, люди будут неправильно происносить 🙂

    Мне было бы интересно, ваш взгляд на вопрос относшения Россия-Украйна (хотя возможно сейчас этот вопрос слишком интенсивный). Я не разу читала на этом блоге об этом, особенно насчет языка, и на других стран СНГ. Я также хорошо знаю уркрайнский язык, и эти вопросы мне интересно.

    • Jenya:

      @Lois Lois,
      большое спасибо за участие! Да, вопрос России и Украины на сегодняшний день является достаточно горячим. Украина не может быть самодостаточной, рано или поздно ей придется решить, в чьи ворота играть. Вопрос замазывания глаз населения управлением, по-моему так же важен, как и политическая неопределенность Украины. Народ требует перемен и ясности, и это очень хорошо! В сравнениии с моей бывшей страной проживания, Беларусией, народ Украины добивается перемен, отстаивает свои права, а не просто безропотно живет под властью диктатора уже 20 лет…


    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in truth was a leisure account
    it. Look complicated to more added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we keep up a correspondence?

  6. Wade:

    Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to
    new posts.

    • Jenya:

      @Wade Wade, thank you. Yes, you can follow me on Twitter @iamnx2u


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  8. Raina:

    Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good work.