25 Random Things

Some time ago, a note circulated on Facebook, asking everyone to write 25 random things about themselves. I decided to post mine here, because it would give you some ideas about who I am.

Here are 25 random things about me:

1. I started interpreting at an early age of 3 or so. I was the only living creature on this planet to understand what my sister was saying. She would say something, and then I would repeat it in a language understandable to others. Who knew back then that’s how I was going to make a living 30+ years later?

2. When I was a kid, I used to be genuinely surprised every time I saw my neighbor reading a book in English. I never thought learning a foreign language well enough to read a book was humanly possible. Little did I know…

3. I always thought being a simultaneous interpreter would be cool, but never thought it was possible. Again, little did I know…

4. My biggest dream ever was to see Paris. Back then, in the Soviet times, going to Paris was about as realistic as going to the moon.

5. I went to school outside my school district specifically because that school taught French as a foreign language, not English like my district school. Who knew I would start speaking English way before I learned to speak French and that my whole livelihood would directly depend on English?

6. When some French tourists approached me in a Moscow metro station, the only thing I understood after 7 years of French in school was that these people spoke French. I did not understand what they were saying.

7. I started studying English in 1989, at the age of 18.

8. I learned French in the United States. Most French people find it shocking.

9. I always cried with the guy in the Karlson cartoon (Soviet people would know what I mean) when he asked his parents to let him have a puppy, because I was in exactly the same situation. I have two dogs now.

10. I studied in Physics department of Yerevan State University for almost 3(!!!) years. I still have no clue as to what on earth ever made me do that to myself.

11. When I asked my dad if I should apply for a scholarship to study in the US (remember, it was still back in the Soviet times), he said: “Sure, do what you want; no one is EVER going to let you out of the country anyway!” Somehow they did…

12. The very first time I came to the US, I got a bunch of US coins after my very first purchase on US soil, and I was surprised to notice there are no numbers on them to show denomination (look at them yourselves if you don’t believe me). I figured out what all of them were, except the little one that read “one dime”. Instead of asking someone, I just put one in a vending machine and the screen said 0.10 – that’s how I found out a dime was ten cents.

13. When I decided to move to California from Iowa, all I had was $100 dollars to my name, of which I spent $90 on my airline ticket to get there! I don’t think I have the guts to move half way across a continent with $10 in my pocket these days. Too old for that.

14. I get to travel AND get paid for it at the same time sometimes. Not as often as I would like and not to any exotic destinations, but I can’t complain.

15. Would love to see Northern lights at least once.

16. Love the fall (end of September/October), but would take a severe winter over a very hot summer any time. Much rather be cold than hot. Hot weather makes me miserable.

17. Living in London was the single most stereotype-shattering experience! I originally thought everything was punctual and well-organized in Britain, but what I found in reality was the complete opposite.

18. The year in London was the loneliest time of my life. One of the reasons was my complete inability to understand most of what people were saying there!

19. My favorite cartoon is Chicken Run. I can totally identify with the Rooster who couldn’t understand the way people in Britain speak. Every time I heard someone speak in London, I could use the same phrase the Rooster used in the movie: “Was that English? I swear she/or he/ isn’t using real words!”

20. 99.9% of the strangers I come in contact with here in Armenia are convinced I am a foreigner. Don’t ask me why. When I sit with friends at a hotel lobby during a break in a conference I am working for, the barmen ALWAYS address my friends in Armenian and me in English. NEVER fails.

21. On the other hand, as soon as I set foot in Paris, people start stopping me and asking me for directions. Most of them think I am local there in Paris and are genuinely surprised to find out I am not.

22. If I had tons of money, I would definitely travel all over the place, several times a year, rather than spend it on real estate or anything else.

23. Would love to have a house overlooking a sea (preferably in the South of France).

24. I spent much of 2008 in hospitals and funerals. It was definitely not a good year.

25. I am a major procrastinator; otherwise I would be doing work right now instead of doing this.

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