I have probably always had an interest in languages. My maternal family comes from an interesting area in Northwestern Switzerland (Jura) where two villages form a sort of a "linguistic enclave". There the majority speaks Swiss German with an extremely charming accent, but those villages are surrounded by french-speaking regions, except for a small "tongue" reaching them from Basel. You can see this quite clearly on the names of the places on the map below.
I lived my first years in Löwenburg, which was then a thorgoughly German-speaking place (more about Löwenburg to follow), as well as Ederswiler and Roggenburg. Note how close this is to the French border. Mind you, many people (probably more the elderly though) in the southern regions of Alsace speak a language which is quite close to Swiss German, called Elsässisch, as well as French with a heavy accent. (Here is a short story in Elsässisch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU-_pQ63oYU&list=PLxr09JK7ecYCG1U-15s0nJzoKSCJAubgw)
I must have been around ten when I first started to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. My friend and I used it as a secret language. My teacher at that age was said to know Russian and that was considered something quite exotic in the mid-Cold War Switzerland of the early 1970s...
Russian then followed me always to some degree. My father knows also some as he was in the Russian sector in Berlin for three years just after the war.
Many years later I was given one of the most wonderful bass arias to learn. It is Prince Gremin's Aria in Eugene Onegin. I had a the pleasure of being helped with my Russian by my friend, the stage director and genius Eyvindur Erlendsson. He studied theatre in Moscow around 1968 and has a great affinity for all Russian. There I learned how to pronounce Pushkin's poem and I loved every word. I got the general meaning, but Eyvindur told me that I was still too young (then about 37) to understand really the meaning of the poem. Perhaps I do now?
Why am I talking about all that??
Because these days I am working on "my" first book in Russian! Well, I am the publisher, but the book is by Reinder Bruinsma, Facing Doubt. Whereas I enjoy working on the many translations, the Russian has a quite special place in my heart because of my story. Yes, this is through my publishing house Flankó Press.
By the way. If you know someome from Russia, ask them to write something by hand for you. Whereas the Cyrillic alphabet in print looks a bit formal, all in capitals, the Russian handwriting is beautiful.