Position title: Student Ambassador
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS!
Привет! I’m a junior majoring in international studies, but with plans to double major in Russian. I’ve been taking Russian since 2021, but learning languages is one of my favorite hobbies. You’ll probably find me curled up somewhere with a big book and chai latte. I enjoy hanging out on State Street, traveling, watching movies, listening to music, and talking about my dog, Hugh. I just finished a summer abroad in Almaty, Kazakhstan and I already cannot wait to go back.
HOW HAVE YOUR RUSSIAN LANGUAGE SKILLS CHANGED SINCE JOINING THE RUSSIAN FLAGSHIP PROGRAM?
Since joining the Russian Flagship Program, I’ve gone from being able to barely read Russian and haltingly introduce myself to reading novels entirely in Russian, ordering food at restaurants, living with a Russian-speaking host family, and understanding the wild world of Russian memes. Basically, I can now live my life while only speaking Russian. I even traveled to Georgia by myself while only speaking English and Russian! I still make plenty of mistakes, but I haven’t let that discourage me. I’ve made all of this progress in two years with the Flagship Program and I know I would not have achieved all that I have without it.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ASPECTS OF THE RUSSIAN FLAGSHIP PROGRAM?
I think my favorite part of the Russian Flagship Program is all the support you get. You get free tutoring and lots of opportunities to practice speaking with other students and faculty. You also get support with figuring out academic issues, which is helpful considering just how stressful college can be. The events, where we just relax and play games or watch movies, are also some of my favorite moments in the program because we can all unwind and laugh together while still practicing Russian.
WHY IS A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL OF PROFICIENCY IN RUSSIAN IMPORTANT TO YOU?
For me, when I start learning a language, I go into it with the intention of being able to use that language competently in some part of my life. I want to be able to live in that language–watch films, listen to music, talk with friends, and even live in a different country if I’m lucky enough. Russian is no exception, except I also want to be able to use it in my future career. I would love to work in international affairs and I know that Russian will certainly never not be useful in that sphere, so getting my Russian to a professional level is what keeps me motivated during my Flagship journey. Good thing that’s also the main modus operandi of the Flagship program! I also know that if I speak Russian at a professional level, I’ll be able to consume media and communicate with others with far more ease than I can now, which is another huge motivator. I might not ever speak Russian as well as I speak English, but I definitely want to get as close to that as I can.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE CONSIDERING THE RUSSIAN FLAGSHIP PROGRAM?
I firmly believe that the best thing you can do for yourself as part of the Russian Flagship Program is to give yourself time and grace. Time, to make progress and learn. You won’t end up being able to read Anna Karenina after only one semester. Learning a language, no matter how “easy” it is, is a lifelong journey, so you truly have all the time in the world to make a great deal of progress. It just won’t all happen during the span of your First Semester Russian class. You also need to give yourself the grace to make mistakes and sometimes miscommunicate with other people, especially native speakers. I will be the first person to admit that Russian grammar is complex for native English speakers. You will make mistakes and use the wrong case and conjugate verbs incorrectly. And that’s okay! Let yourself have bad days but also let yourself dust yourself off and get back up. There’s a warm, welcoming community in this program and you’ll find lots of peers who will be able to understand and support you no matter what.