First Year Students Reflect on Learning Russian

by Clara Giorgis ’21

Even in this unusual year, the Russian department has been going strong. As the year wraps up, we asked this year’s first-year group to reflect on their favorite moments from 101 and 102 and offer some advice to future students.

What was your favorite part of your first year learning Russian?

“My favorite part of my first year learning Russian at Dickinson was meeting other students with similar interests. I had spoken the language with my grandparents for years, but formally studying the language with my peers made the experience more meaningful.” – Peter Guma

“In terms of learning the Russian language itself, my favorite part was being able to learn and comprehend basic uses of all six cases, as it really gave my memory a workout having to remember so many different endings in order to speak grammatically correct. Socially speaking, all of my classmates have been really nice and fun to work with and I am glad to be on the same journey of learning Russian with them.” – Andrew Cummings

What was the most challenging part?

“The part of learning Russian that has been the most challenging for me so far has been getting used to verbs of motion and their numerous prefixes and knowing when and how to use them correctly. Since English doesn’t incorporate this concept, it’s been a bit difficult for me to distinguish the different contexts in which they should be used.” – Andrew Cummings

“The more challenging part of taking Russian was learning new vocabulary and grammar. It was a worthwhile endeavor to incorporate new material into my speech and writing.” – Peter Guma

What aspect of Russian are you most looking forward to studying?

“I am looking forward to being able to simply speak Russian without much hesitation, meaning that I don’t spend a lot time scrambling for words and grammar constructions in my head, but rather it becomes something natural. Additionally, I am looking forward to meeting more native Russian speakers with whom I can practice my language skills and maybe even become friends.” – Andrew Cummings

“I am most looking forward to studying intonation and phonetics as I continue with Russian.” – Peter Guma

What advice would you give to future 101 students?

“I would reassure future 101 students that making mistakes is completely normal when starting out with a language. The same goes for anyone considering studying Russian: just keep trying, and eventually things will start to make sense. Practice is key to getting comfortable with the material.” – Peter Guma

“To future 101 students, I would want to applaud them and wish them luck on their decision on choosing to study Russian. They could have easily chosen a language that is considered easier to learn than Russian, but yet they chose Russian which has a quite different alphabet, grammar system, pronunciation, and vocabulary than that of English. They are definitely in for a challenging, yet rewarding and unique language to carry with them! To anyone considering studying Russian, I would want them to know that it’s never too early or late to start learning, as there are many benefits and opportunities that await them.” – Andrew Cummings

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