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    Газета School English #5, 2007

    Impressions of the All Russia English Language Olympiad 2007

    Екатерина Пирогова Екатерина Пирогова
    учащаяся 11б класса, Самарского муниципального университета Наяновой

        I like trains. Honestly, I enjoy them, especially when you manage to sleep well during the night, and your mattress isn’t slipping away from you. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my case when I got on the train to Nizhniy Novgorod. I believe I’ve been a kind of pain in the neck for all the Samara delegation because I was really browned off with reading some ridiculous books on the way, and my nerves were stretched to the limit. Do you think it’s vitally important to know that a Welsh prince named Llewellyn conquered a village or something? Well, I don’t, that’s why I went to sleep after reading that...

        The city welcomed us with sleet and slush in the streets; the gusts of wind were trying to pull the suitcases out of our hands. “It’s all about climate change,” I thought while we were getting on a bus. We were told that our destination would be The Center of The Gifted Kids. To tell you the truth, I’ve always found this type of names pathetic, but... at least we’ll be warm soon! Actually, getting to the place was not a simple feat as we had been going for about an hour and a half... But then, eventually, we saw the check-in. Can you imagine how happy we were when they told us that we were going to live on the 8th floor, and “The escalator isn’t working, dear girls, but you’ll be able to do it, yeah?” Of course! In fact, we were too tired to fight tooth and nail, and the boys were few and far between then, that’s why there was no other way but to take the luggage ourselves. After that, we had tons of fun discovering what was written at the entrance to our corridor and what room number we had. “Welcome to hell!” and 911. We’re lucky, as usual...

        With all these little anxieties we really forgot what we had come here for. So in the morning, after a demitasse of coffee for breakfast, we were quite astonished to find out that we were going to have Reading Comprehension and Use of English in an hour... To tell you the truth, I showed a white feather after that because I tried to revise. When we finally came to the classroom, the situation became so tense that I almost felt it in the air! Suddenly the girl from the back seat whispered something to me, and I answered offhandedly, “Samara.” The girl laughed and asked in a loud voice, “Is your name Samara?” You know, that was a real coup as everybody burst out laughing and talking. That’s how I got my nickname for the Saint Petersburg delegation... Then it was the time to ask my grey matter to help me, and I spent the next two hours beating my brain about the task, notably a great crossword connected with sociocultural competence...

        On Wednesday I was trying desperately to stay in tune and not to go downstairs to see my points for Reading and Use of English. Eventually, I failed to do both... My total of 51 points was great enough to “build my confidence” and “take pride in myself (after Dale Carnegie, a famous motivational speaker in the USA) for the next stage of the competition, Listening Comprehension and Writing. Well, the former was all right, but the latter... You see, I had to write 600 words in an hour. Thank God I didn’t get a writer’s block! The topic of the essay was to name two Russian People of the Year and express your ideas about them. Vladimir Spivakov and Valentina Matvienko managed to trigger my imagination, so... here I am, my dear jury, you’ll have to do Writing Comprehension now! After this bitter disappointment our delegation (Mary and Nastya from Gymnasium #11, Liza from Perspective, and Kate from Gymnasium #1 and me) came to the conclusion that bowling and sushi were the right activities for us. And you know, we were totally right!..

        Thursday morning was the most nervous and the most exciting. We had to wait for two hours for Speaking, and that was awful because I got scared out of my wits. We were trying desperately to stifle this feeling by singing and dancing in the waiting room...

        “Now you will have to speak about introducing computers in the classroom. Speak,” said the interlocutor. Spontaneous speech. My nightmare of choice. To tell you the truth, I became mumbling and muttering at first, but then I got a brainwave, and everything was quite OK, except everybody was a bit shocked when I pronounced the word “undistinguishable”!..

        Here comes the Freaky Friday. During the night I dreamt about the number 3 and minty jelly bears! At 10 o’clock we got the news out of the blue. And guess what – I’m the third and Mary is the second. Can you imagine my excitement outstripping my understanding that we actually ARE the winners?! Well, it usually takes me time to realize something, especially if this “something” is the victory at the All Russia English Language Olympiad...

        Well, here’s the end of my story. The crowded train station, our suitcases, my new friends, “missing-home” and “don’t-want-to-leave” feelings combined... And the most precious understanding. See, I think I’ve got a solid proof of what I’m going to do in the future. And it goes without saying that the world stands aside to let anyone pass who knows where he’s going...

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