Olga’s Blog: Очереди, медкомиссия (Medical Examinations in Russia)

Published: January 30, 2007

This is Lesson 2, Part 2 of Olga’s Blog, a series of intermediate Russian lessons. All of the bold words and phrases have annotation below. Red words and phrases indicate the subject of this blog entry’s grammar lesson. Asterisks indicate slang.

Привет всем!

An eye chart in Russian

В прошлый раз я обещала написать про медкомиссию. Как только закончились летние экзамены, поступившим сказали – “Пусть все идут на медкомиссию до пятнадцатого сентября!” Счастливым ребятам, выжившим после вступительных, уже все было нипочем. Казалось бы, что тут сложного – проходишь осмотр у восьми врачей и получаешь справку. Получилось не все так просто. Врачи – окулист, невропатолог, стоматолог, отоларинголог, терапевт, хирург, дерматолог, физиотерапевт. Уж так много!*

Каждый день, подходя с друзьями к поликлинике МГУ и обнаруживая у входа очередь в сто, а то и больше студентов, мы со спокойной улыбкой говорили друг другу – “Ну, чё?* Зайдем завтра!” В результате медкомиссию мы проходили больше двух недель, каждый день проводя в поликлинике по три, а то и* по четыре часа. И в конце, геройски выходя от последнего врача – терапевта со справкой, мы чувствовали, что долг студента выполнен.

Очереди – серьезная проблема не только в поликлинике, где несколько часов подряд приходится выслушиваешь бесконечные рассказы бабушек про их болезни. Это еще и ожидание в библиотеках, гардеробах… А о том, что происходит между парами в столовой, лучше не рассказывать никому – за 10 минут перерыва студенты пытаются купить столько еды, чтобы хватило не только на следующую лекцию, но на весь учебный день.

Как видите, студенческая жизнь в МГУ кипит, и каждый день приносит какие-то дела и интересные сюрпризы.

Вроде о многом уже рассказала, а столько еще потрясающих новостей: наши преподаватели, вручение студенческих билетов, пансионат и многое другое. А теперь, мне надо готовиться к тестам. До фига еще работы!*

Пока! Удачи всем!

Vocabulary and Cultural Annotations 

Медкомиссия: Medical Commission. As mentioned in Olga’s Blog 2.1, physical education is a required part of state university education programs. Students must pass a battery of tests before being allowed to continue with this part of their education. Also, going to a full team of doctors is not unusual in Russia. Certificates from medical commissions (in various forms) are also necessary to obtain a driver’s license, receive a work permit (for foreigners), use public pools, and more.

Вступительных: term which refers to entrance exams (see Blogs 1.4 and 1.5). Note that here Olga is using a shortened term to refer to something that every student is very familiar with. Use of this term is not entirely correct, but fairly widely used.

Нипочем: Standard phrase in Russian meaning “not very serious,” or “cheap.” Note it is composed of three words (Ни-по-чем), but is written as one. Note as well that the subject of this sentence is actually “все.” The first words (cчастливым ребятам) are in the dative – meaning the full sentence could be translated as “To (for) these happy folks, having survived their entrance exams, life was already a bowl of cherries.”

Окулист: Ophthalmologist (specialist in diseases and disorders of the eye)

Невропатолог: Neuropathologist (specialist in diseases and disorders of the brain)

Стоматолог: Stomatologist (specialist in diseases and disorders of the mouth)

Отоларинголог: Otolaryngologist (better known in English as a “ear, nose, and throat doctor.”)

Терапевт: General Practitioner

Хирург: Surgeon (in Russia this position also diagnoses many internal disorders and diseases)

Дерматолог: Dermatologist (specialist in diseases and disorders of the skin)

Физиотерапевт: Physical Therapist (also diagnoses disorders that can affect range of motion and athletic ability)

Уж так много: So many (doctors). Note that “уж” is a corruption of “уже.” Again, this is not entirely eloquent to say, but is widely used. In its shortened form, the word adds emotion to the expression in which it is used.

Проходишь осмотр у восьми врачей и получаешь справку: Go for an exam with eight doctors and receive a certificate. The word “справка” is one with which anyone living in Russia will become well acquainted. They are essentially the way that levels of bureaucracy communicate with each other and anyone applying for anything must collect them and take them to the appropriate offices – usually to get the next “справка.”

Ну, чё: Slang phrase meaning “So (now) what?” When only the last part is used (“чё”), it can be translated roughly as “huh?” Note that the word is a corruption “что” and is considered fairly base (неграмотный). However, it is widely used, even among educated Russians. It is pronounced “ch-YO.”

А то и: Colloquial expression that translates as “if not.” This sentence translates as: “As a result, we spent more than two weeks at the medical commission, every day spending three if not four hours there.” The most standard and correct variants are “или даже” and “если не.” Other variants that can be used with the same meaning include: а уж…; что-что; не то…; and хотя и не.

Жизнь кипит: Slang phrase meaning “life is very busy” or “life is hectic.” It literally translates to “life is boiling.” In context, it could also translate to “things are (really) humming” or possibly “life is rockin,'” or even “life’s a riot.”

До фига еще работы: Slang phrase meaning (loosely): “I’m up to my ears in work.”  Note that “фиг” is actually Russian for “fig” (the fruit). It is used in this context because it sounds very similar to a highly offensive Russian word that the speaker would like to have the strength and effect of without offending the listener. The word itself could be effectively translated as “freggin” or “freckin,” depending on geographic location in the U.S. It should go without saying that many Russians consider this term highly uncouth – use the expression with extreme caution if at all!

Удачи всем: Good luck everybody. A very common good-bye in Russia, but note that it is addressed to a group of listeners. Addressing one person would take the form “удача тебе” (familiar) or “удача вам” (polite).

Grammar Focus:

Other Forms of the Imperative 

The imperative mood is used to demand or require that an action be preformed. Obviously, the imperative can be seen as being quite powerful and using it with people with whom one feels one should be polite or with whom one does not have an established social relationship provides an excellent example of where grammar becomes mixed with cultural expectations.

Russian also has several non-standard formations of the imperative. Today’s “Olga’s Blog” gives one such example: “Пусть все идут медкомиссию до пятнадцатого сентября!” (Let everyone go to the medical commission before the fifteenth of September).

Constructions using “Пусть,” “Пускай,” or “Пускаете” followed by the third person present or simple future may also be used as the imperative mood in Russian.

Examples From Literature and the Press

Пусть все соберутся здесь. Возьмешь троих, наиболее крепких, и пойдете к убежищу. Сейчас нужно экономить силы. Э. Скобелев

Пусть будет так, как года два назад, Пусть встретимся надолго или вечно, Пусть наши встречи только наугад, – Хотя ведь ты работаешь, конечно. В. Высоцкий

Лучше пускай он будет всегда такой, чем как мадам Шталь или какою я хотела быть тогда за границей. Нет, он уже не станет притворяться”. Л.Н.Толстой

Conversational Forms

Russian has also developed slang forms of the imperative for certain verbs. For example, the grammatically correct versions of the imperative for the verbs ехать/ездить are поезжай(те).

There are, however, other forms which are not grammatically correct, but which are often used in conversation: съезди, едь, and поедь.

Examples from Literature and the Press

Съезди, съезди, – ухмылялся Калименков. – А мы подождем. Еще по чашечке выпьем. А. Якубовский

Едь как можно … Едь дальше на восток, пока машина не остановится или пока не закончится дорога. Д. Вэнс

Поедь, посмотри, не бойся – горилкой напоют, салом накормят. “Ачевчанин

About the author

Olga Dmitraschenko

Olga Dmitraschenko

At the time of her writing, Olga Dmitraschenko is a sixteen-year-old native Muscovite and incoming freshman to Moscow State University, one of Russia's most respected educational institutions. She served an internship with SRAS during the summer of 2006 as a research assistant on issues of popular culture. She stayed on afterwards with SRAS as the primary author of Olga's Blog, a series of language lessons based on modern Russian life and written in the language of Moscow's young, well-educated college students. The blog aims to teach vocabulary, cultural implications, grammar, and some youth slang.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

View all posts by: Olga Dmitraschenko