Last time I was in Moscow I was here as a full-time student. This time things are a little different. While I still attend Moscow International University I am here as part of the Business Russian Language Program. This means that, unlike in the fall where I spent a full 24 hours weekly in language classes, I’m now only studying 12 hours a week, which gives me time to also intern at a local organization in Moscow. I plan to write a whole post just about my internship, so for now I’ll stick to discussing the academic side of things.
Instead of pure language classes, all of my courses this summer are considered to be ‘business language.’ This means that not only am I learning how to speak professional Russian (which is very different than conversation and often has its own grammatical patterns) but also that all the topics we discuss in class are related to business, economics, or trade. Having never taken an econ class in my life, this is definitely new territory for me. However, the teachers are very understanding of my limited Russian and lack of business knowledge. It’s also fascinating to see how Russian perceptions of ‘business education’ differ from American ones. Many of my friends back in the U.S. study economics and seem to spend a lot of time looking at statistics and coming up with analysis. So far, the Russian business professors seem much less concerned with economic trends, rather they focus on what makes some companies more successful than others (leadership, risk taking, and company composition).
I have four classes which I take throughout the week. Business letter writing, where we learn how to write formal emails; Business vocabulary, where we read different articles and try to learn new words that are important in professional life; video, which is not really business related but fun all the same; and my favorite General Business Questions, in which we discuss current affairs as well as more abstract concepts in business. This last one is fun as our Professor Andrei Dimitrovich is particularly opinionated and known to say some pretty controversial things. Only yesterday he was giving us his opinions on the U.S. political system, which quickly turned into a rant against socialism (as someone who lived through the Soviet Union I don’t particularly blame him for holding this opinion). He’s also very supportive of women entering into business, as he claims that “a company without female leadership is like a person with only one leg: you can hop but it would be much easier to walk.” There’s definitely never a dull day in his class.
Since we are also expected to attend internships our classes are usually only for two or three hours a day in the afternoons. This can be a bit inconvenient sometimes as we are usually starting classes at the same time everyone else is getting out for the day, however, it also means that I don’t have to get up near as early as the students who are here strictly for language study.
So far I’m really enjoying my classes. Obviously my Russian still has a long way to go, but it’s really encouraging when I can understand what the professor is talking about, especially since the topics are far from simple. I feel that this summer will be a really useful experience, and hopefully give me the professional language skills that I could someday work in Russia.
By: Alexa Ryer
Program: Business Russian Language & Internship, Moscow, Russia
Term: Summer 2019