Friday, October 2, 2009

The pros of being a student

While language training is a must for missionaries, I have never really considered it a priority since I had studied Russian previously and get plenty of language practice in daily life.

But due to the current visa regime, I've been "forced" to become a student. Of course, I could have tried to get all my paperwork together to enter a degree program. But since I am trying to figure out about residency at the same time, it seemed practical to take a more low-key approach and become an "exchange" student.

I have three Russian language classes, 14 hours a week: Grammar, Lexicon, and Conversation Practice.

Here are some of the benefits that I've observed over the past week of attending class: +/-

-I receive feedback about my language skills. My friends don't normally correct my grammar/pronunciation. Error correction is a must in language training, so while I still acquire a lot of new words daily, there are some weak areas in which I've become stagnant. Now I can receive a little correction by attending class, and break through some of the barriers which remain.

-I have an excuse for making mistakes. It might sound cowardly, but I do get tired of being an outsider all the time, and it is refreshing to be in a place where people know that you are learning and are patient with you. This is not to say that the average person on the street is not patient with me, but here I can let my guard down a little more because it is a learning environment.

-It gives structure to my week. The class schedule changes from day to day, but the class periods are all the same, and I know that my day is planned out until about 3 pm, at which point I can engage in other activities.

-I have permission to discuss culture. Actually, culture comes up quite a bit in ordinary conversation, but it is often hard to put into words what I am feeling. While attending class I have realized that some of those feelings are repressed. I normally try to avoid analyzing Russian culture too much with other foreigners because it can quickly turn to criticism or just idle talk. But with other foreigners and a native Russian present, the environment is more conducive to edification. I was reading parts of the textbook during my commute, and found the observations to be quite poignant. Culture shock is one of those things that you have to work through; it does not just go away if you ignore it.

-Language training is fun when you already have conversation skills. Sure, my grammar can use some work, but at this point I can have productive conversations with the other students, and it is interesting to have discussions with them, rather than just for the sake of being in class.

-Discounts! I get a student ID and student transportation pass, which is less than half of the usual price. Of course, I have to pay for the lessons...but it is nice to have some perks!


  1. Tell us about the student trans. pass? Never heard anything on that.

  2. It depends on where you are studying, mine is Herzen. They asked me if I was going to buy a transportation pass and I said I was, so they had me fill out an application to get a student one. I had to go pay a one-time fee at the bank for the card itself. And then once the transportation department has your information, you go there and get your card. It's only 500 rubles per month. I went there today and mine wasn't ready, so I'll try again next week.

  3. Лиза, скоро будешь знать русский язык лучше нас всех. Мы то его только в школе изучали, а это было давно :))

  4. Да ладно. :) Вы тогда будете английский лучше меня знать!

  5. Interesting, and thanks for the explaination here in the comments part...I had no idea what that was until I read the comment that you made about it. :)


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