Summing up the year in Vladimir

After spending 8 months in Vladimir Russia I can easily answer the questions that are asked to me every day.

“Why study Russian?”

Other than having the ability to travel to the largest country in the world and probably one of the most important ones at this moment in politics and history, the language just gets more and more fun as you progress. Not necessarily easier, but in a way it does get easier. You realize how all the words are somewhat linked to each other and just by reading the prefix, root and suffix of a word you can break it down and understand what the word is and what it means. This is the most fascinating thing to me about the Russian Language. As I am sure this occurs in other languages, I can safely say not so much in English unless you know Latin. Words like bear- медведь, comes from the word for honey- мёд. I’ve heard that it literally means honey finder in old Slavonic. The word for street- улица, has the word лицо for face. Meaning it is the face of the city. There are so many words like this that you just have to study the language to appreciate. Read poems by Russia’s great poets and you can understand how they form words and create new ones.

“Why Vladimir?”

This is a simple answer for me, but hard to understand for those who choose Moscow and St. Petersburg and even harder for Russians themselves to understand why anyone would choose such a small insignificant city like Vladimir. I have to say, while I am two hours away from Moscow, and a day trip from St. Petersburg, it is easy for me to get to these places, but the students in those cities would rarely think of journeying to the ancient gem that is Vladimir. The city’s architecture is as unique as its inhabitants and it is mesmerizing to see such old churches still standing. Other than the city itself, the team of teachers that we have at our school KORA is second to none. The care they have for our lives and success is just as high as their dedication to their profession. They have so much world experience and have seen thousands of students. I enjoyed how it was not as popular of a destination like the other cities because I had more opportunity to speak with natives and improve myself in the language along with the fact it almost felt as if it was a class that was one on one. The residents of Vladimir unlike the larger cities don’t speak English as often as their counterparts and for me that gives so much more opportunity. When I’ve visited Moscow and found myself struggling to find words, more often than not they would switch to English for them to have a chance to practice or even just showcase their language ability. That is not the problem in Vladimir, though some know English and would like to practice or are learning it; they will be patient and wait for you to find your words or expression.

I hope Vladimir in the future is able to get more attention from aspiring students, and while Moscow and St. Petersburg are fun, I cannot say that it would make me feel as at home as I have felt in Vladimir, even though I’ve spent most of my life near New York City.

By: John Castle

Program: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies

Term: Academic Year 2017-18

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