Location of Study: Kiev, Ukraine
Program of Study: School of Russian and Asian Studies: Russian as a Second Language
Sponsors: Nanovic Institute for European Studies, College of Arts and Letters, and Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures
A brief personal bio:
I am a junior from Colorado, double majoring in film and political science with a minor in Russian. I spend a lot of my time working for Fighting Irish Media, helping with live sporting events on campus and editing content for the video board and social media. I also tutor student-athletes in calculus and participate in Club Softball. In my free time, I enjoy working out, drawing, and going to the movies with friends (I tell myself this counts as studying because I’m an FTT major). I have never been to Europe before, but I’m excited to spend time in Kiev!
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
In most of my history and political science classes since middle school, Russia and the former Soviet bloc have been involved in some way, whether through the World Wars, the Cold War, or current international affairs. But every time we have discussed Russia, I have felt that I understand less about the country and culture and more about American perceptions of the former Soviet Union. I think that learning a language is essential to understanding its culture, because language is the way we communicate and express ourselves individually and as a society. Likewise, I believe that understanding a culture is key to truly mastering a language. Russia is a country and region that the West has never fully understood. I hope that by learning Russian I can better understand its culture and people, and translate my understanding through film with my background in political science. I don’t yet have specific career goals, but I hope to use this experience to consider ways in which I can combine my three interests in film, political science, and Russian.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
Besides improving my Russian proficiency, I hope that studying abroad this summer will allow me to have a first-hand experience of the culture in Ukraine and attitudes towards Russia there. I think American media has a tendency to dramatize and vilify Russia more so than other countries, and I am very interested to see for myself how Ukrainians view Russia. While discussing politics is difficult even in English, I am excited for the challenge! Additionally, I will be doing a home stay with a Russian-speaking family because I want to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. I hope to come away with more knowledge and understanding of what life is like in Ukraine, shaped by my own observations and experiences, rather than headline press coverage.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to comfortably carry on a conversation in Russian with a native speaker on a variety of daily topics such as the weather, food, travel, leisure activities and basic politics.
2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to demonstrate an improvement in my pronunciation and listening comprehension by reading and listening at a level of proficiency one semester beyond my current Russian coursework.
3. At the end of the summer, I will be able to write in Russian about my experience abroad in Ukraine, using complex grammar, rich vocabulary, and varied sentence structure.