When I was 16, I boarded a plane and ended up in a place called Switzerland. To my delight, I heard German [almost] all the time. I would sit for hours in school and hear German. My host family members would speak German.
And this all started happening before I spoke German.
Likewise, when I was 18 I boarded a plane and went back to Switzerland where I was surrounded by French (although there was a lot more English mixed in).
Now, four years later I'm 22 and surrounded by Russian.
Last night I went to a "concert gala," a show where I heard bounties of Russian on end for around three hours (mixed in with a few flicks which didn't always have words or had subtitles). In the stores I hear Russian. Amidst crews of folks, I hear Russian.
And it's ok.
I've been so grateful to all of the English-speakers for talking to me in English and explaining things, but I don't think they realize that I'm actually comfortable with not understanding. I'm totally okay if they speak to each other and I can't understand all the time.
Because I know the less English I hear and the more Russian my ear is around, the sooner I'll learn Russian. I know that the sooner I learn Russian, the sooner I can talk to almost anyone I meet in Russia. I know, at some point, I'll have to just hear Russia and fine with it being now.
English is a hard language to have as a first language if you want to learn another language because it seems that almost everyone speaks, "a little bit of English" (as they'll all tell you). Because of this, in foreign countries, a lot of folks want to either practice their English with you or they want to help you out. I don't mind bits of English here and there, and I enjoy having social company I can understand (so I'm not ungrateful) but, in this way, I won't learn Russian.
I need to reach a certain level of fluency, though, for people to feel like they can speak to me in Russian. Does this mean I should go to a language school? Maybe just head to Siberia to a small village where no one speaks English?
On the train, no one spoke English and it worked out fine. I learned a lot. I think I need more situations like tha to be able to gain mah Russian skillllllz.