For ten weeks this summer, I was enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh’s Summer Language Institute (SLI) in an intensive language program for 4th-year Russian. For five weeks, I attended classes in Pittsburgh every day roughly between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. During this time, the entire class was taught only in Russian. We learned advanced vocabulary, watched movies in Russian, and completed cultural activities in Russian as well. For those first five weeks, my speaking and listening abilities enhanced greatly. I could talk about abstract topics in Russian more easily and grew my overall knowledge of Russian vocabulary,
On July 6, a group of 15 other students and myself flew to Moscow, Russia, where we spent the remainder of our summer. While in Russia, we were enrolled in Moscow State University’s Language Institute with students from all over the world. We attended class Monday through Thursday with “free” days on Friday and mandatory cultural and historical excursions during the week as a group. Although the classwork was much less intense in the Moscow portion of our trip, I was able to engage with Russians in conversation on a daily basis. Additionally, I took advantage of Moscow’s various historical activities while I was there. Every week, I would go to a history or art museum and a different part of the city. Exploring Moscow allowed me to grow in my conversational Russian, as I had to navigate in a city where a majority of people spoke little to no English.
Overall, this summer provided me with a wealth of knowledge about Russian language, history, and culture. I plan to use my enhanced Russian abilities to continue research for my Master’s Thesis, as a majority of my primary sources will be in Russian and need translating. For me, this summer also helped me to solidify my plans to continue my education after the completion of my Master’s degree by applying to PhD programs this fall in History. I plan to return to Russia one day to not only conduct research but to visit other parts of the country as well.