My Italian minor shaped my college experience in ways I never imagined. I began taking courses my freshman year strictly to fulfill language requirements, but quickly fell in love with the language and culture. My sophomore year I spent a semester in Perugia, Italy, where I learned to break out of my comfort zone and make intelligent risks. My MLL courses and international exposure have greatly fueled my curiosity for the world around me and helped me become more flexible and open-minded. Additionally, they have rounded out my business degree beautifully. One of my favorite accomplishments during my time here was creating a bilingual travel blog that allowed me to combine my backgrounds in Marketing and Italian Studies. In my opinion, cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity is critically important in our interconnected world. Eventually, I’d love to continue to broaden my perspective through graduate school or employment abroad.
So I have been in Ufa for a little over a week and though it was time to post an update. Before we left for Russia, our group had a CLS orientation in Washington to meet each other and get information about how to use Russian after we graduate. It was great to meet all the people and everyone has been really nice and funin both classes and on excursions. Unfortunately, on the flight from Newark to Washington my suitcase was lost and still has not made it to Ufa, I have been told its in Moscow now, but I’m not sure if it will ever arrive. Luckily, my parents are great and drove down a new bag for me right before we had to leave, so I have clothing and such for the trip.
As for Ufa itself, it is very different than St. Petersburg. One of my favorite aspects of the city ismany of the signs are in Bashkir and Russian so one gets to see both cultures coexisting, although Russian is far more dominant.
My host family has been wonderful so far. I live with a woman, Farida Fagimovna and her 22-year old son Denis (accent on the last syllable) who just finished university. He studied water quality and control engineering which I understand very little about. But he has taken me around and we talk about sports, TV and movies so that has been interesting and really helpful for my language learning. He also worked in America last summer on the Work and Travel program so it has been interesting to hear what he thought about America and what he saw there.
Classes have been challenging, but I have been able to keep up and they are really helping my comprehension. Also, whenever I am at my homestay the TV seems to be on, so I have watched a good amount of Russian TV which helps me work on my accent and get new vocabulary. We are all are working on groups projects while we are here and I am working on media in Bashkortostan, so the things I learned in my senior seminaron Russian television last semester should come in handy.
Finally, since we are some of the few Americans to come to Ufa and a boon to their economy, we were on local television. So for you viewing pleasure, here is the link, its all in Russian but still interesting. I am seen briefly near the end.
I will update again after our excursions to religious sites in Ufa and some of the local museums.
I’m Jacob Lassin and I’m a rising senior at The College majoring in Government and Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. This summer I have been fortunate enough to receive Critical Language Scholarship to study in Ufa, Russia.
The Critical Language Scholarship is a program run by the State Department which provides fully funded intensive summer classes for undergraduate and graduate students to learn what the government terms “critical” languages in countries where they are spoken. The program involves language classes, living with a Russian family in a home stay, cultural excursions and peer language tutors. It also requires a language pledge, which means anytime I am with the group in class or on an excursion or when I am at my home stay I must speak Russian. Which will be very challenging and ultimately very rewarding.
So where exactly am I going? Ufa is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, which is one of the federal subjects of Russia. A federal subject is kind of like a state but there are many different types. A republic, like Bashkortostan, is the type with the most independence. Republics in Russia represent a certain non-Russian ethnic group which has territorial ties to the region. In Bashkortostan that ethnic group is the Bashkirs, some of whom along with Russian speak a Turkic language called Bashkir which is also one of the official languages of Bashkortostan.
I am really excited to go to Ufa and not only learn more about Russian and Russian culture, but also about Bashkir culture as well. I will update again once I have gone through orientation and have arrived in Ufa.