Name: Yiyang “Blair” Hu
Location of Study: Moscow, Russia
Program of Study: School of Russian and Asian Studies
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and Nanovic Institute of European Studies
A brief personal bio:
I am a rising junior majoring in Economics, Political Science and Russian, with particular interest in international relations and political economy. Russia has always been a great power in the world, yet its language has received far less attention that it deserves. Even with the collapse of Soviet Union, Russia still has a huge role in international affairs, and has consistently been viewed as an opponent of the US. I am planning on going to law school or graduate school after graduation, and I believe being able to master Russian would be beneficial for either option.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
Completing three majors would require me to overload every semester, and leave me very little room to cope with unexpected changes. The challenge is even bigger when I am going to study abroad in London for my Junior Spring and Notre Dame does not offer any Russian-related courses there. I would really like to take more Russian classes prior to my departure to ensure that I can finish the major before I graduate. With the opportunity offered by SLA, I would have much more flexibility in my schedule and confidence to finish my courses on time. Furthermore, based on my experience of learning English, I believe to truly master a language requires one to actually be immersed in the environment. I started to learn English since I was three in China, but it was only after I entered my high school, an international and exclusive English-speaking school, did my English achieve significant improvements, especially on listening and speaking skills. I believe this is the same for Russian: I could complete all of my Russian courses at Notre Dame, but it will be so much different if I can actually go to Russia, talk to Russian people, and speak only Russian in my day-to-day life.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
As I have mentioned earlier, although Notre Dame offers very high-quality language courses, it is still different from learning the language in its home country. I hope this grant can help me achieve significant improvements on my listening and speaking skills by allowing me to be immersed in a completely Russian environment. It would also be great if I could get a deep and accurate understanding of Russian culture and general environment there that may help my other areas of study.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to communicate in Russian with native speakers confidently on everyday conversations as well as some higher level academic or political topics.
2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to demonstrate a willingness to take intercultural risks by engaging in cultural and linguistic interactions that are beyond my level of mastery and comfort zone.
3. At the end of the summer, I will be able to speak, read, write and listen at a level of proficiency equal to two semesters beyond my current Russian coursework placement at Notre Dame.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: