Duke in Russia: Language and Culture Program

May 8 to June 28, 2012 *

* See the Program Schedule page for a more detailed itinerary, including information regarding travel to and from the program site.

The Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies and the Global Education Office for Undergraduates of Duke University offer an intensive language and culture study program at St. Petersburg University in St. Petersburg, Russia. The program is directed by Professor Edna Andrews of the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies of Duke University.

St. Petersburg, located near the Gulf of Finland, is the second largest Russian city. Some of the most outstanding features of St. Petersburg are its beautiful palaces and churches and the "White Nights”, which peak at the end of June.


Duke in Russia

Postcard from Abroad


Dear Global Education Office:

My first experience with the Russian language came in my junior year of high school, when a Ukrainian friend (almost frivolously) suggested that I should learn Russian. To my own surprise, I took up his suggestion and even started studying in my free time. However, as I progressed, I found myself growing more interested in the language, as well as the rich history and culture behind it. I resolved to study as much as I could in my free time, and I even managed to exempt a year of Russian at Duke. 

Being a computer science and mathematics major, I at first found myself in a strange position considering study abroad in Russia. After all, Duke in Russia was known for its language program, but did not offer anything directly related to my major. Nevertheless, in the same spirit that drove me to seriously start studying Russian, I decided to sign up for the program, not for any course or major requirement, but purely for my own interest. 

As I had already completed two courses in Russian before we left for St. Petersburg, I found the language barrier not as daunting as it was for some of students who had just finished their first year. This is not to say, however, that I had no problems at all - language problems, indeed, were many, and I feel that this is an integral part of learning any language. One must make mistakes and encounter many awkward situations before becoming fluent in the language. 
Also, the Duke in Russia program gave me a chance to totally immerse myself in the language and culture, on many different levels, from taking courses to riding the metro, watching the news, or even doing simple grocery shopping. Every day presented new challenges, as well as opportunities to grow.

All in all, I found that my comprehension of the Russian language increased dramatically during my two months in Russia, and I'm very grateful for the experience. 

I have since then decided to pursue a minor in Russian, and I will be taking 4th year Russian this fall. 

- Siyang Chen

 
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