Here is Cristina - reporting for duty!
I am on the Russian team for as long as there has been a Russian team (4 years I think) and I have been studying Russian for longer than I care to admit.
My progress has been slow because I do not really have any time to study, so sometimes a full 18 months go by without me doing anything significant, but Russian, and the opportunity to do anything Russian, is always on my mind.
I passed the B1 exam this summer, in Moscow, but by the skin of my teeth as far as the written part goes. (I really cannot write Russian) so my goals for this year is to make my Russian a solid B1 - possibly a B1+, be able to speak freely, and to be able to write what I want.
I love writing in my travel log, and I focus more on my journeys and my experiences than on pages studies. For me a language only makes sense as a key to a culture, and I have dived into Russian culture with all my passion. In the year passed, I have been to Moscow three times, studied Russian in Ukraine, I have been to Tatarstan, sang Russian karaoke, gotten lost in Siberia with no luggage, no telephone numbers and no clue which hotel I was going to, I have met more wonderful Russians than I could ever imagine, who have shown me around, helped me to practice my wobbly Russian and invited me into their homes, celebrated the 8th of March with 30 wonderful Russian women, been caught up in demonstrations in Moscow, seen "The Cherry Orchard" on stage in Moscow, I have been offered to be converted to Russian orthodoxy by the head monk of a Russian monastery, I have bathed naked in the lake Baikal and learned how to flog myself with birch leaves in a Russian sauna, eaten lots of lovely blinis and other delicacies, drank honey beer and oxygen cocktail, woken up from an operation speaking Russian, and ended the year in a Russian home drinking champagne with gold in it. I have not made out with a Russian on The Red Square, but it is on my bucket list after October 2017.
It has been a truly memorable year. I said at the beginning of the year that one of my New Year Resolutions was to live more, and that I have most certainly done.
So let's start another year and another journey together - I look forward to being on the team, and I hope we will have amazing progress together!
As for name - I prefer the cuddly animal, or anything which would identify us as the Russian team also to outsiders, and not only to Russian students (Vodka, Tolstoy, Babushka, Putin (possibly preferably not
Moscow, Glasnost, Siberia, Tundra). Anything which anyone else would immediately recognize us by. And written in Latin letters