From the time I was a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to study Russian. I was introduced to a few Chekov plays through a European History class and my teacher told me that if I enjoyed them in English, I would
like them even better in Russian. I was curious and wanted to be able to appreciate these works in their original form, which led me to study Russian in college. I love studying this language and joined the UW-Madison Flagship
Program to help me pursue proficiency in it.
From the time I was a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to study Russian. I was introduced to a few Chekov plays through a European History class and my teacher told me that if I enjoyed them in English, I would
Despite having a solid amount of German in high school, I’d been away from it for too long when I started at UW-Madison and so decided to try a new language. My gut told me to give Russian a shot. Not only did I love the language and the challenges that come with learning it, but other literature and cultural classes have shown me how important Russia has been (and will be) on the world scene. The opportunities for in-depth language study presented by the Russian Flagship Program will hopefully enable me to quickly master a skill that I would like to use in travel and in future work.
To be blatantly honest, I really had no intentions of learning a language so late in my college career; given the rigors of the engineering curriculum, it just didn’t make sense to burden myself overmuch. And while I would have liked to continue my study of Latin, which I had begun in high school, I just couldn’t see the benefits continued study would bring to my future career as a nuclear engineer. So when I realized that I had some free time in my curriculum, I decided to branch out. Stumbling upon the Russian Flagship Program seemed to be a perfect amalgam of things I didn’t even realize I was looking for: pertinence to my major, as Russia stands as one of the foremost in nuclear technology and innovation; grammatical structure (somewhat) akin to Latin, and travel abroad opportunities. I truly think that the time I have intend to invest in learning Russian will be beneficial to my future, whether that future lie in government or academia.
My first day of high school passed in a blur of awkwardness and bad hair, but one moment stands out in my memory: as I sat down with trepidation in my Russian class, an Armenian man with a huge mustache rose from his desk and proclaimed Я люблю свой голос! I love my voice! At his urging, we repeated the phrase over the phrase a dozen times, stumbling over the foreign sounds and wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into. In the years since, I have come to firmly believe in this mantra. Russian, like any other language, demands perseverance, dedication, and hard work; it also takes the gusto to convince yourself that you know how to pronounce an unfamiliar 20-character-long word. Studying Russian has made me more self-confident, and empowered me in my efforts to become a global citizen. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to advance my Russian skills through the Flagship Program -- for as that mustachioed Armenian so often told me, language is the key to the world.
The summer of my junior year of high school, I worked at a restaurant with three Russian women. They spoke to each other in Russian and I was completely entranced; this was simply the most beautiful language I had ever heard. I had been studying French for the previous four years, but I abandoned it and resolved to learn Russian. Gradually, I started asking them to teach me words, and I used reference books to teach myself the alphabet and basic vocabulary. I became obsessed with all things Russian, and from that point I knew what my college major would be. I haven't lost that passion, and the Russian Flagship Program is a perfect opportunity for me to reach professional fluency. I hope to work for the Federal government in either a foreign policy or global security capacity, and this program is a wonderful stepping stone for achieving that goal.
Russian Flagship Student Representative
My personal interest in Slavic languages began budding at a young age: at age 5, I wanted to learn Slovak in order to communicate with my great-grandmother; at 10, I wanted to learn Bulgarian because I was fascinated with the Bulgar assassins in the Bond film, From Russia with Love; at 16, I began learning Serbian upon being captivated by the tumultuous history of the Yugoslav region; and finally at 18, I resolved to study the language and culture of Russia, the geopolitical "crown jewel" of Slavic lineages. As this enumeration illustrates, I have fostered a deep respect and curiosity for this subject throughout my life and I hope that my involvement in the Russian Flagship Program not only brings this interest to fruition, but will also teach me how to utilize this linguistic fascination for practical, vocational purposes. I’d like to employ the skills I acquire through this program to working in diplomatic or commercial capacities.
My interest in the Russian language has evolved greatly during my time in Madison. During SOAR, I was enrolling in classes when I saw a First-Year Interested Group (FIG) entitled "Russia in the Contemporary World." Having always been interested in Russian history and culture, I decided to take the FIG, and a Russian language class came with it. Now, after a few more semesters of Russian language and culture classes, I have made the leap into the Russian Flagship Program. Joining the Flagship Program opens up a world of opportunities, from being able to read Tolstoy in Russian to watching a Russian news report in order to gain a greater understanding of the current political situation. I am excited for all of opportunities and look forward to maximizing my Russian language skills.
My introduction to Russia and the wonders of her language came when I stepped off of the plane in Vladivostok thinking, “Good lord! What have I gotten myself into?” One week later I arrived in the settlement in which I was to spend the next year armed only with a vocabulary of colours, numbers, and a couple of dirty words Katya’s friends had found funny to teach to the American. In a lot of ways, it was the worst year of my life, but in a lot more, it was the best. I found a second home in Russia and came back wanting to know everything I hadn’t had time to absorb while there. I’ve always loved languages; through the Flagship program I am excited to take what I love and fly with it.
As an incoming freshman in the summer of 2010; I had no little idea on what I wanted to do, but I knew I loved languages. I dove into the Yoruba language my freshman year and continued my Spanish but coming into my second year at UW-Madison I decided Russian would be a more suitable choice. It was a blind choice, but I have not regretted it as I fallen in love with the language. With the aid of the Russian Flagship Program I aim to reach a superior level understanding of the language so that I may accomplish my career goals and have the opportunity to live with and understand the country and people of a foreign country
My selection of the Russian language was pure happenstance. After learning of the long wait lists for my desired language options while at SOAR, I perused the language brochure given to me and opened to Russian language page. I impulsively signed up for slavic 101 and from that day forward I have had a blast in learning both the Russian language and culture. Loving a good challenge, I decided to enroll in the Russian Flagship program after hearing about it. Though it will be a difficult program, I cannot wait for when I will be able to spend that year in Russia studying.
As a freshman, I enrolled in a Russian literature in translation course that fit neatly into my schedule. It didn't take long for the charming, often times bizarre and undeniably sublime stories from Russia to seize my full attention. Although I couldn't understand a word, hearing my professor recite Russian verse was fascinating. The language had a poetic rhythm and beauty all its own, something altogether unlike the exaggerated, syrupy Russian accent that a friend might use to tell an "In Soviet Russian" joke. Needless to say, I was sold and resolved to take any available opportunity to learn about the language and culture of this alluring country. When I discovered the Russian Flagship, I immediately knew I had found the perfect learning community to reach my language goals. Attempting to learn a language without engaging teachers and enthusiastic peers is like trying to prepare borsch without beets! You can try but you aren't going to get very far. Fortunately, the Russian Flagship community is as committed and active as anything you'll find on campus. The marvelous learning environment in Madison and the opportunity to be immersed in Petersburg life are reasons enough for the Flagship Program to be essential for anyone serious about taking their Russian to the next level. The private tutoring, advising, scholarships and social hours are just icing on the cake.
To be honest, I stumbled upon Russian by chance. I’ve always been interested in languages in part because I have been learning German since I was five. I wanted to have a career where language was an important part of it. When I realized I wanted to be a translator, it did not take long before I realized I needed another language in addition to German and English. I’ve always been somewhat of a history buff and enjoyed reading about the tsars and especially the myth of the lost princess Anastasia. Because of my interest in Russian history, I figured I might as well take a Russian language class. When I heard about the Flagship program and its goal of making students native level speakers, it seemed like a program tailored to help me towards my career goal. After all, you can’t be a translator if you can’t speak the language. This is one of the best opportunities to come my way at UW-Madison and I am thrilled to be a part of the Flagship program.
I decided to take Russian in the first place because I wanted to take an interesting, useful language that would also challenge me. I really enjoyed my class, and I decided I wanted to continue studying Russian. I have always wanted to learn to speak another language fluently, and Russian offers such great opportunities in the workplace and society. I knew I wanted to go abroad, and the Russian Flagship interested me because of these opportunities and the private tutoring available. I hope to work in the public sector on foreign policy issues, and this program will help to prepare me for that career path.
In 2008, my family became involved with an organization called the Chernobyl Children Project. This program seeks out young children living in contaminated areas of Russia and Belarus, and funds their trip to America for respite and medical care. Every summer my family hosts visiting children through this organization. These children have completely changed my life, have become my little brothers and sisters, and have given me a passion for the Russian language and culture. In April of 2009, I traveled to Russia to visit the children I had hosted and to meet their own families. At that time, I was studying Biology at UW-Whitewater. When I returned from my incredible trip, I immediately knew I wanted to transfer to UW-Madison to major in Russian. This has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Russian Flagship Program.
When I was around nine years old, my parents came back from a business trip in Russia, and within a week the Cyrillic alphabet was on our family blackboard. To me, this was just their latest culture interest, and after a failed attempt at getting me to sit through an introductory Russian course at age ten, the only thing I knew about Russian was that the letter “Ж” looked cool. For years the alphabet stayed on the black board, and I would walk past it everyday without a second thought. Or so I thought! I guess those bizarre looking letters engrained themselves into my mind, because when I came to SOAR freshman year, I signed up for Russian. Why exactly I signed up for Russian is a slight mystery to me, I suppose I will simply attribute it to the letter “Ж.”
When I was signing up for classes my freshman year, I wanted to learn things that I could never learn in high school. Russian inevitably drew my in, filling my inescapable urge to experience something that was both unique and unusual. Obviously I have not regretted this decision as can be seen with my participation in the flagship program. With such a similar and yet dissimilar customs, vast literary culture, and deep and intrinsic history, I was drawn to learn everything about Russia and those strange people I had only previously associated with the stereotypical Ivan Drago macho-man from Rocky IV. I have even taken upon myself the task of learning balalaika to join our local Russian folk orchestra. Though I have not decided exactly what I want to do with these language skills, I figure that more experimenting will open that riddle wrapped inside a mystery, also known as my life.
Ever since starting French in 7th grade, I've had a passion for foreign languages that I've found to be unparalleled. After taking 3 years of Japanese in high school (on top of my ongoing French study), I then decided to tackle Spanish in my freshman year of college. However, Russian (as it was never a language offered at my previous schools) somehow managed to elude me up until last semester, at which time I decided that it would be an utterly fascinating language to study. I found myself falling in love with the language, to the extent that I contemplated making it a focus of study. While all languages have their own little quirks and cool intricacies, something about Russian just strikes me as the epitome of what I like about a language. While I've not had considerable experience with Russian culture, I am in the process of attempting to familiarize myself with the great Russian works of literature (Crime and Punishment, as of the time of this writing). While my future is still a bit of a haze, not yet having formally declared my major in my Sophomore year, I know for a fact that I plan on doing a good deal of study abroad, and I'd like to be able to spend my whole life traveling and communicating in languages beyond just my native tongue. Fluency in Russian is a much coveted gift, which would open so many doors that I would never be able to have access to otherwise, and I sincerely believe that my participation in the Russian Flagship program will provide me with invaluable experience that will be instrumental in carving a path into the future.
My year in Russia was in many ways the best and the worst year of my life. Armed only with Да and Нет I disembarked from the train into the stifling and unexpected heat of a Russian summer. Getting accustomed to the Russian way of life and attempting to learn the Russian language was difficult but the experiences gained made the difficulties well worth it. Upon returning to America I didn’t know what I would do with knowledge of Russian but with the help of the Flagship Program and the UW-Madison Slavic Department I am continually finding ways to include and improve my Russian.
While signing up for classes during my second day of Summer Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR), I found out I needed to fulfill my language requirement; scrambling to choose a class before they all filled up, I quickly enrolled in Slavic 101. I knew I liked the way Russian sounded, but, never having taken a foreign language, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Despite the challenge, however, studying Russian has been nothing but rewarding thus far. Since my first Russian class, my knowledge of the language, people, and culture has continued to grow every day. I am very excited to be a part of the Flagship program and the opportunities it provides to further develop my passion for Russian.
It is hard to put my finger on what drew me to take Russian and become a part of the Flagship program. My grandfather spoke Polish and my grandmother is Russian, so to some extent I grew up with part of the culture. The idea of learning Russian did not grab hold of me until I heard it referred to as a “tactical language” – one useful in government and foreign relations. After taking Spanish for four years in high school, it was at that point that I decided to enroll in an introductory Russian course at my local community college and try something new. Little did I know that my interest in the practical role of Russian in world relations would flourish into a passion to learn the intricacies of Russian language, culture, and literature. My interest in Russian is continually renewed here at UW-Madison, thanks to all of the opportunities to engage in Russian culture present on campus. I look forward to being part of the Flagship program and all of the challenges and successes that it is sure to bring.
I have always wanted to learn a second language, and my draw to Russian lies in that it is classified as a 'critical language', meaning that fluent speakers are needed in both the government and the corporate world. At Summer Orientation, Advising and Registation (SOAR) this past summer, I enrolled in a Russian First-Year Intererest Group (FIG) and I learned a lot about the language and culture of Russia; I find the country to be very interesting. I plan on majoring in Russian Language and Civilization and Political Scence. I believe that my involvement in the Russian Flagship Program will help me to graduate at a confident level of speaking, reading, and writing in Russian. My involvement will help me to achieve my career goal: to work as a foreign diplomat in a Russian-speaking country.
My experience with Russian all began on a day like any other, when I was listlessly loitering around my mother’s desk (she happens to be the school secretary), most likely scrounging for a snack of some sort. Along comes Oksana Mikhailovna, the Russian teacher at Central High School in St. Paul, MN, bearing a napoleon cake she had made herself. Offering me a piece, she says, “You should study Russian! I cook for my students all the time!” Needless to say, I switched out of French that very day. And even though she did not bring us cake all the time, studying Russian has been pretty sweet all the same. Because even if I am not set up in an embassy somewhere fantastic or married to an oligarch (yet), my still-lacking knowledge of Russian has already opened up countless interesting and profitable experiences, which I’m sure will continue to present themselves (as always) in the most unexpected of ways. Which is why, having exhausted the Russian resources at the University of Minnesota, I decided to transfer to UW-Madison to participate in the Russian Flagship Program, and really become fluent. So far, I have been amazed at how much attention and care I have received from the Flagship staff, and am thrilled to be completing the rest of my college career under their guidance and tutelage.
The summer after my junior year of high school, my best friend invited me to travel with her to Belarus, her home country. During my ten days there, I heard Russian spoken around me constantly. It was the most beautiful language I ever heard and I knew that I wanted to study it in college. While I originally thought that taking a few semesters of Russian was I all that I wanted, the more Russian I learn, the stronger my desire to speak it fluently becomes. The summer after my freshman year in college, I volunteered at a hospital in Milwaukee. The hospital has two translating departments; Spanish and Russian. Every day, I would see a translator meet with Russian patients to help them to communicate with their nurses and doctors. Through my volunteer position as an English as a second language tutor, I have come to appreciate what a huge barrier to healthcare language can be. My goal is to become a family practice physician in an area of the United States with a strong Russian population, in order to give Russian patients an opportunity to have a doctor who understands their language and culture while allowing me to put my passion for Russian to practical use.
Already knowing I wanted to study Linguistics, I came to UW-Madison full of excitement over all the new language options available to me. Spanish had been a great first foreign language to learn, but I was ready for a new challenge. So, as an incoming freshman, there I was, stressing over the extensive list of languages, each one its own welcoming doorway into an endless array of unique cultures. With so much to learn, the only question was: which door would it be? Door Number 1 might have gotten me German automobile or a trip to Paris, and Door Number 2 could have contained ancient Egyptian artifacts, but nothing caught my attention quite as much as Door Number 3, a door which, after reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and briefly studying Russian history in High School, I had already cracked open a bit. The choice seemed clear, and once I took my first step through that door, there was no turning back; I quickly fell in love with everything Russian. Not wanting to gamble away the opportunity to achieve proficiency in the language and immerse myself in Russian culture, I decided to apply for the UW-Madison Flagship Program. This program is the best way to prepare myself for the future, which, although is still another set of doorways away, is sure to continue providing me with invaluable experiences- experiences incomparable to any random game show prize winnings.
I have been surrounded by Russian culture since I was born. My grandparents are Russian émigrés and had a large hand in raising me. I would go to their home everyday after school, speak Russian, eat Russian food, read Russian fairy tales, went to church with them, and I always felt completely at home. I grew up with Russia as a part of myself. Over the years, though, after a move and increasing independence, I began to lose my Russian language skills. So when I came to Madison, I knew that Russian was my priority, and as I see it, the Russian Flagship is the best way for me to do this. Not only does it require intensive language requirements, but it also creates a Russian community. Additionally, it provides fantastic opportunities for the future, as I hope pursue a career in diplomacy and international politics. Russian and the Flagship program, I’m sure, will help me fulfill my personal goals and be a solid stepping-stone for the future.