What does it mean to have a seat at the table? For Jordan Morris, it means speaking the language. An engineer from Alabama, Jordan’s been taking Russian classes with us to connect more deeply with his wife and her family. Talk about romantic! Read on for Jordan’s thoughts on the FC class experience, practice at home, and keeping secrets from his wife (a pro tip from Jordan: don’t).
Setting The Stage
Where are you from?
I’m actually from Alabama. I grew up in Louisiana, then moved to Alabama, and that’s where I met my now-wife. She’s from Brooklyn but she went to vet school down in Alabama, and then I followed her back up here!
Where do you live now?
We live on Roosevelt Island. It’s good. I mean, from a small town perspective from Alabama, it’s an interesting segue into city life. There’s only about 8,000 people on the island, so it’s pretty small. And I work in Yonkers as an engineer.
Engineering! That’s awesome, what type of engineering do you work in?
I work for Kawasaki — we build subway cars.
The Language of Love
So how did you end up taking Russian 1 at Fluent City?
My wife speaks Russian, she is from Ukraine, and originally I wanted to learn it to surprise her. So I started with apps on my phone, but I then I realized it was going to be a big time commitment so I waited to start classes until we got back from our honeymoon. We got married in April.
Thanks! And you know, yesterday was Father’s Day and we had a big event on her side in Brooklyn. I was with her dad and her granddad, and her dad speaks pretty good English but her granddad speaks none. It was a little embarrassing, they wanted me to say things like “hello” and “how are you” in Russian. They put me on display a bit, but [her granddad] was really happy.
That’s so nice, it sounds like it means a lot to her family that you’re learning the language!
Yeah, well the entire table was speaking Russian and she had to translate for me, and even with that there is still humor and innuendos that get lost in the translation, so I wanted to be able to pick that up.
So, in the end, you decided not to keep it a surprise?
Yeah, originally I thought I could take Russian 1 and learn the basics and surprise her, but I got to the point where that wasn’t really doable. She was like, “So why is it every Thursday that you have to work late?” I didn’t want to lie to her in the first month of being married.
Probably a smart idea! How are you liking your classes so far?
They’re good! There are a lot of people with similar stories to mine.
Let’s Get Fluent
What made you decide to take a group class?
I think just the atmosphere. I wanted to feel comfortable, and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted: everyone close to my age and with similar stories. We have a little group chat, like a group email, so that’s nice. I travel for work and I’ve actually missed two classes but they fill me in and that way it doesn’t feel like I’m behind.
That’s great that there’s such a strong internal support system! Had you taken a language class before?
Yeah, I took years of Latin and Spanish in school, but if you don’t use it, you lose it. But with this, even if I learn just a little, I’ll always keep it. And someday, when we have children, I’m passionate about them knowing Russian, too.
Do you ever practice at home with your wife?
She comes home, and — I asked her to do this — she’ll say “Hey, how was your day,” and she’ll tell me about hers, all in Russian. And then we’ll talk about what she said. She enjoys it as much as I do. I think it makes us closer, the fact that she sees how much I want to learn.
Do you think you’ll ever go to the Ukraine or Russia together?
Yeah, I think so, maybe not to visit family, but I think we’ll try to do Russia: St. Petersburg and Moscow. Be tourists.
What has been the most challenging part of learning a new language?
With Russian, it was the new alphabet. I’m pretty much there now! I can read Russian — doesn’t mean I know what it means, but I can read it!
That’s the best place to start! And what about the best, what’s been the best part of learning a new language?
Aside from being able to communicate with family members, from a personal standpoint I’m just proud of myself. Where I am now is just ultra-basic conversation, but I start to pick up on little things like grammar or “boy” and “girl.” I can sit at the Russian table and know what the topic is.
Nice job, Jordan, and happy traveling! Or should we say: Счастливое путешествие!
Interested in learning Russian like Jordan? Check out our current Russian classes here.