If you have taken on the challenge of learning Russian, or Ukrainian for that matter, it is important to interact with native speakers. Here are 10 places in Toronto where you can more easily meet people to practise with:
1. Coffee shops. Frequent a coffee shop in areas heavily populated by those of Russian and Ukrainian background, such as Yellow Cup in South Etobicoke, or many of Country Style branches near Bathurst and Steeles. Here you are sure to meet Russians and Ukrainians with some free time at their disposal.
2. Community centres. As they serve many newcomers to Canada and provide amazing programmes, community centres are a great place to meet new people for a language exchange.
3. Pools, gyms and tennis courts. Many Russian and Ukrainian people have a love for sports and active lifestyle. Again, try areas such as Etobicoke, North York, Bloor West Village, and Downtown Toronto.
4. Sporting events. Catching a game of hockey or soccer at a sports bar in your area when a European country is playing, or the Firkin pub near Yonge and Sheppard whenever a game is on.
5. Gaming events. Be it pool halls, paintball arenas, arcades or board games, many Russians enjoy a challenge and a good game, so the Crooked Cue near Royal York and Bloor and Snakes and Lattes near Bathurst and Bloor are good bets.
6. Libraries. Russians are known for their love of literature, so libraries, book clubs, and literary festivals are another gathering place for your potential practising buddies.
7. Meetup.com is an wonderful resource for finding like-minded individuals with similar interests, and one of the Russian-themed language exchange events are sure to be a good practising ground.
8. Universities, colleges and other schools allow you to truly deepen your knowledge of Russian. Most major GTA universities such as U of T and York, and colleges like George Brown offer courses in Russian.Ukrainian is not as frequently offered on school curricula, but still possible to find.
9. Banyas. This may sound like a stereotype, but Russian people love their bath houses. There are several all around the city, so just pick one near you and you are sure to meet someone up for a chat. One of the best ones, South-Western Bathhouse, is located just west of Toronto. Another, the Sanduny Spa, is at Bathurst and Finch.
10. Festivals. There are several cultural festivals geared towards Russians and Ukrainians in Toronto. One of my favourites is the annual Ukrainian Festival in Bloor West Village, a three-day celebration happening near Runnymede and Jane subway stations every September.
For more information on courses and cultural offerings in Toronto for those interested in Russian, visit www.torontolanguages.com/tag/russian. For Ukrainian, vist www.torontolanguages.com/tag/ukrainian. Happy learning!