|Ivan and Tyler in Disneyland|
The classes are opening up a whole new world of Russian history, language, literature, and art. We have the rare opportunity of learning Russian history from its very beginning. Our language teacher, Lyuba, wrote her own curriculum, and I wish I'd had it when I was studying on my own in the States. She's designed it for natural immersion, with games, writing, reading, and speech in every class. The literature class is excellent--ancient Russian literature, especially translated into English, is not always interesting...but Mr. Schmidt, being an Old Testament scholar, can delve into any text (including Harry Potter) and make it exciting or meaningful. Art history is overwhelming, but fantastic. Elena Savinova is an endless fountain of knowledge about visual and performing arts, and she's always happy to let us pick her brain.
|Alexei, Grisha, Leonid, Brian, and Tyler at the Novgorod Kremlin|
The dorms are cozy, and the students are all ages, from all places (though mostly Siberia, from what I've gathered), and no one is boring. They all have fascinating stories--we have an older gentleman who's sailed the world as a fishboat captain and a girl from Turkministan who spent 10 hours in jail for going to a Christian conference. Most speak more English than I do Russian, and we all help each other learn what we can. Svetlana and I are learning German together, I'm teaching English to a family from Uzbek once a week, and doing English/Russian homework together in the kitchen with tea, chocolate, and fried chicken at midnight is a bonding experience I'll never get in the States.