Name: Anissa Cervantes
Location of Study: Moscow, Russia
Program of Study: Moscow International University
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and Nanovic Institute of European Studies
Blog URL: http://blogs.nd.edu/sla2016/author/acervan1/
A brief personal bio:
My name is Anissa Cervantes, and I grew up in Leesburg, IN, which is a town that’s a mile by a mile and a half. I am currently a rising junior and a Biochemistry major with a Russian minor. My post graduation plans include either medical school or graduate school. My only experiences abroad have been in the Americas, and I am ready to see what the other side of the world has to offer.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
With the opportunity to attend college, I wanted to learn a language that I could not otherwise learn on my own easily. I settled on Russian and as I fell in love with the language, I decided to earn a Russian minor or supplementary major. I would like to earn a Russian supplementary major through Notre Dame, but this is difficult to complete along with a Biochemistry major. It is not only the quantity of rigorous credit hours, but since both departments are relatively small, oftentimes the classes required for a Biochemistry major and Russian supplementary major only meet at a certain time period and may conflict. One solution is to earn transfer credit through summer study abroad for my Russian supplementary major. Without the SLA grant, my study abroad experience wouldn’t be possible.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
I wish to study in Russia over the summer primarily to work on my language skills. After studying Russian for two years, I have a basic understanding of grammar but to truly speak Russian well, I need to work on my pronunciation and vocabulary depth. It is difficult for me to pick up pronunciation since I have so little contact with native speakers. An immersive experience abroad would greatly benefit me in terms of learning Russian in ways that simply watching Russian films or other media could not. I’ll be forced to live, breathe, and think in Russian all the time as opposed to just when I am sitting in my Russian classes. In addition, I can’t imagine another time I would visit Russia, especially for an immersive experience and not just as a tourist. For me, this study abroad experience is a once in a life time opportunity.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to speak in Russian fluidly and not haltingly.
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to articulate well the differences and similarities between Russian and American culture having experienced both firsthand.
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to initiate and maintain entire conversations in Russian with native speakers on a wide variety of topics.
- At the end of the summer, I will have earned 8 transfer credit hours that will apply to my Russian supplementary major.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
The study abroad program I am in puts a strong emphasis on not only language acquisition but on cultural immersion. The program offers a home-stay option with a host family; I accepted the offer, and my host family will be some of the first native speakers I interact with. By living with them, I will directly experience Russian family life. This study abroad program also encourages its participants to volunteer and/ or get involved with some club or activity they’re interested in. While I won’t know what activity I will choose at the moment, this will be an opportunity to develop my Russian in a context that interests me, which will make developing my Russian easier as I meet other native speakers who will have similar interests. Furthermore, I will need to navigate Moscow’s public transportation system by myself every day in order to get to my classes. This daily action will test not only my language skills, but my ability to handle new and very foreign experiences.