Hello, Georgia!

Getting Acquainted with the Colloquial

` Hello, all! I have now been in Batumi, Georgia for two weeks and have been really enjoying learning about Georgian culture so far! I have been living with a Georgian family of six, my host mom, Natia, her husband, her mother and father, and her two sons. They mostly speak Georgian unless they are talking to me, or unless my host mom and grandma are talking around me. As well, they all speak Russian as a second language, except for her two sons who know a little Russian but speak more English, which has been nice for me to hear English and also to be able to communicate a little more clearly every so often. I had done some research before I got here, which explained that most Georgians over the age of forty speak Russian, and that most of the younger people here are learning English in school, so it has been interesting to see that evidenced through my host family and also when talking to older vs. younger people out on the streets. 

One important phrase I have learned so far is the verb “кушать,” which means “to eat,” spoken as “кушаешь” or “кушай” to me, from my host mom and grandma. When I first arrived I had never heard this verb before, as in class we learned “to eat” as “есть,” but I quickly figured it out! I eventually looked up “кушай” and saw it translated as “to eat,” and it was cool to learn that this is the more colloquial way of talking about eating, and in fact, I have not heard “есть,” since I’ve been here. I haven’t really noticed any barriers between who uses this verb as it’s been said to me and my host brothers, and to my host mom, from the grandma and vice versa. I asked my Russian teacher (who is from Russia) what the difference is, and she said “кушать” is less formal, and thus, more colloquial. Another difference in daily speech that I’ve learned here vs. what I learned in class at Notre Dame, is that it is much more common to describe liking something, or to be asked if you like something as, “тебе нравится?” instead of “ты любишь?” In class, we used the verb “любить” much more than “нравиться,” and from my experiences here so far, it simply seems that “любить” is a little more intense than “to like,” closer to “to love,” and so “нравиться” is the more common form: just as in America we say we “like” things in conversation more often than “love” unless we do have a more intense feeling for the things we are describing. 

Another interesting thing I have learned as someone who is trying to learn Russian through Georgians, is that they do have an accent when they speak Russian, which has made it a little harder for me to understand some of what they say, but I am getting used to it. For example, with “кушай” as it’s written it would be pronounced “koo-shai,” but my hosts pronounce it more like “koo-shee.” Long story short, the wonderful family I’m with now is not the homestay I was originally assigned to, I actually switched from a home with two Belorussian women, and I noticed that I could understand them fairly well vs. the slower progression of understanding I’ve had with my new family. 

Of course, this country is different from the United States, and while I have noticed differences in the cultural behaviors of some people, I think what I’ve learned most so far is that people are people wherever you go, and we are not all that different! Like in my own home in America, we usually eat dinner together, but not all of the time as sometimes I go out, etc. And so far, we actually have not all eaten together. I think it has to do with it being summer: the dad still goes to work and gets up early like I do because I have class in the morning, and the rest of the family sleeps in because the kids are not in school. So I usually eat breakfast alone, but sometimes with the dad; I have eaten lunch with the youngest son, my host mom and grandma; and the rest of the food is usually just made as people get hungry because no one is really on a set schedule because it’s summer break. This is similar to how my family is with meals during the summer at home! To summarize… Мне очень нравится грузинская кухня!