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Dive into Russia: Interview with Students from University of Oxford

The abridged version of the interview for Business-Class, 19, January, 2021

Arun Denton and Joseph Scull, students from New College, University of Oxford have shared their impressions to the Business Class (BC) News Agency – speaking of their studies in Perm, travelling around, volunteering and making friends.

BC: How did you come up with an idea of going to Perm, to study?

Arun: Joseph and I are studying Russian at the University of Oxford. In England, when doing a foreign language, you must spend a part of the 3rd year in the country of its origin. Here is where the twinning relations of our cities clicked. Some of our friends came and studied at Perm State University. They were quite happy with that, and told us about it. So, we considered it as a worthy option, and went to Perm.

BC: Were there any difficulties with preparing for the trip?

Joseph: It was all simple. We had to obtain a visa, quite a common procedure.

Arun: We too have been lucky entering Russia in mid-September. At that moment, the government canceled the mandatory two-week quarantine. So, we passed the PCR test and entered the country, experiencing no problems.

BC: Why would Russian be so interesting to you? And, when did this interest start?

Arun: When you are in school in England, at the age of 14, you have to choose a foreign language to study. So, I thought – why not Russian? Joseph and I are from different places: I am from Manchester, Joseph is from a small town of Sherborne in the south-west of the country. Yet, we were both lucky our schools had included Russian into their curriculum. The education system in England is meant to gradually decrease the number of subjects to study: first, these are 10 to 11, then 3 to 4, and finally, 1 to 2. In our case, we would tend to choose Russian language and literature.

BC: What is special about your studies here? And, how different would it be from studying in Oxford?

Joseph: Compared to Oxford, Perm State University has a lot of obligatory classes. At the University of Oxford, the main emphasis is made on independent students’ work, with individual tutorship being the core. Yet, Oxford differs from other British universities, where the system is closer to what we see here.

Arun: Now, due to the pandemic, basic disciplines are taught online, while classes of Russian are taught individually, on campus. This strategy appears to be quite effective and useful.

BC: Do you happen to communicate with other University students?

Joseph: For sure, we do. Still, due to the pandemic, as have to visit on-campus classes on our own, individually. Here in Perm, we are staying in the family of Irina, a teaching professor at the Faculty of Geography. She had introduced us to her students. We do meet often, the all guys are quite friendly and helpful.

BC: How did your parents and friends treat your idea of going to Perm?

Arun: None of them had ever heard of Perm before. In this regard, the fact of twinning relations helped a lot. Thanks to Mrs. Karen Hewitt, Professor at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, these links have been growing for quite a while, obviously having a long story behind them.

Joseph: My parents and friends see Perm as a fairly good option. Indeed, there are many foreign students in Moscow or St. Petersburg, where you can communicate in English. Here, Arun and I, just two of us, are enjoying the opportunity of nearly a private dive into Russia.

BC: To which extent have your expectations about Russia and Perm appeared to be true?

Arun: To be honest, I had little expectations, as I knew too little about the city, although I did read about the history of Perm, too. So, we have been making our opinion of the place right on the spot.

BC: Russians are be believed to be self-reserved or reluctant for communication… Have you come across that, at all?

Arun: Maybe, on the street, people do look closed and show less emotion. Yet, as you start talking, everything changes. We usually communicate with those whom we live with, our students, or folks in a café. We are curious to hear stories, and the locals expect the same from us. Almost all people are open and happy to communicate.

BC: What have you been doing during your spare time?

Arun: We have traveled around the Perm territory, a bit. We have been to the smaller towns and places of Kudymkar, Kungur, Ilyinsky, Chermoz, Khokhlovka, and the Usvinsky pillar stones.

BC: Not that every Perm-local visits so many places, like you have done…

Joseph: We know we have been lucky. As I said, we are staying in the family of Irina and Alexander. Irina is a teaching professor at the Faculty of Geography, and Alexander performs well as a tour guide, so we did have really interesting trips around!

BC: Are there any things, which you particularly miss in Perm – like pubs, football or Scottish haggis?

Joseph: Oh, no! I am very glad that there is no haggis in Perm (laughs). In fact, we do not feel being deprived of anything here. For basic needs, our life is set perfectly well. The Russian cuisine is different from ours, but we like it. Pubs are really very important in England, but there are good bars in Perm, too. As for football, we have seen Amkar FC twice, and once Molot hockey team. So, everything is fine, and not so boring at all.

BC: You have taken part in a volunteer campaign, here in Perm, right?

Arun: Yes, together with the “Territory of Rest” Day Shelter we have participated in the “Food on the Wheels” program – providing an opportunity for those homeless and in need – to get warm lunch. We helped distribute food, first in the disctrict of Zakamsk, other side of the river, and then in the city center.

BC: How long will you be staying in Perm?

Arun: We will be going home to England for Christmas. And, in mid-January we will be coming back to the city of Pyatigorsk – to continue our studies at a local university.

BC: Any plans to re-visit Perm?

Joseph: On a whole, we have an idea of crossing Russia by train, on the Trans-Siberian Railway – that would be great! Here in Perm, we have developed a great touch with Irina and Alexander – the family we are staying with. I believe we will try to visit them, for sure.

BC: Your future occupation – will it be connected with Russia?

Arun: I have always wanted to speak Russian fluently. It would be great to work in Russia, or with it.

Joseph: After studying in Russia, we will have one more year at the University of Oxford, so, there is plenty of time for future decisions.

BC: You have mentioned you learned about Perm through twin cities relations with Oxford. To which extent, in your view, does twinning make sense?

Joseph: I’ll tell you a short story. Arun and I were at Perm School №7 – meeting with schoolchildren, talking about England. Suddenly, I noticed a poster with my hometown of Sherborne there. It turned out that this School cooperates with the Sherborne Girls School, and my sister was here as part of an exchange program – can you imagine that? Unfortunately, there are currently no such exchanges. Yet, they should be restored, since they make people communicate and learn about each others’ life and culture – here, locally, in the middle of Russia.

Arun: The links between the universities are also quite necessary and useful. Every year, students from Oxford come to Perm to study and practice. New knowledge, new contacts – all these are really important for the modern world.

News Source (original).

PSU Linguists Help Finnish Urban Activist, Contribute to International Perm Links

Jaakko Blomberg (Helsinki, Finland), a renowned Finnish artist who creates urban art-related projects, has visited Perm, in cooperation with the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art.

“I often just call myself urban activist and producer… Some of my activities are associated with urban space, some with art, some with culture, some with environmental issues, some with food. But everything is linked in some way to urban culture, people and community… I travel around to talk, inspire, generate ideas and organise workshops all over Finland and the world – exploring communal city culture, co-operation and different, open-minded ways of doing,”

Jaakko Blomberg shares at his web page.

Sergey Potkin, 3rd year student of the Faculty of Modern Foreign Languages and Literature performed as a guide and interpreter for the Finnish activist. Jaakko Blomberg’s attention was naturally drawn to Perm-local art objects and graffiti, raised from the grassroots.

“I’ve been conducting tours around Perm for some time, already. Some guests are interested in galleries, others – in theaters. I am always for museums, which put a light on the history of Perm and its citizens. From the city monuments, I like Permyak the Salty Ears, and the Legend of Perm Bear,”

says Sergey Potkin.

Being a passionate advocate of urban culture and artist himself, during the tour Jaakko Blomberg showed interest in local Perm graffiti. His attention was also drawn to the “Happiness’s Not Far Off” art installation – the huge top letters dominating a piece of embankment of the Kama river.

“Co-creation and better use of space are increasingly important factors in creating a better city and life. Technology provides us with a number of tools to reach out people, share resources and work together. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but each case is different… The new urban culture is open-minded, quick, created with a minimal budget – and done by the community itself,”

admits Jaakko.

Jaakko Blomberg is known as a founder of Kera-kollektiivi, founder of Kalasataman Vapaakaupunki, Executive Director of Helsinki Urban Art, Co-Founder of Konepaja-liike, Co-Founder of Jänö – vegaaninen lippakioski.

Jaakko’s visit to has been partly linked with Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (PERMM) – an art gallery in Perm, founded by gallerist Marat Gelman in 2009. Besides a train of exhibitions, the Museum holds festivals, artist talks, lectures, workshops, concerts and performances. In 2010, the Financial Times praised PERMM as “one of the most spectacular galleries of modern art in Russia.” “To be honest, Jaakko’s passion to contemporary art during the tour passed on to me, which I feel excited about and grateful for,” shares Sergei Potkin.

The Faculty of Modern Foreign Languages ​​and Literature at PSU traditionally acts as a link between young translators/interpreters and city enterprises, government institutions, social and cultural initiatives looking for international cooperation. “Not only does internship in translation help students to master their profession, but also connects them with a variety of experts, allowing them to sharpen skills and see prospects for future research,” emphasizes Natalya Khorosheva, Head of the Department of Linguistics and Translation, PSU. “In turn, we feel our students are in demand at the city’s venues, contributing to international cultural agenda.”

Earlier in the spring of 2021, the book titled “Perm Collection” was published in Helsinki, which tells about the collection of the Museum of Perm Antiquities, in which teachers and students of the Department of Linguistics and Translation took part. In their letters of gratitude, many more institutions praised PSU students for “excellent knowledge of English and French, mastery of the basics of translation theory and practice, interdisciplinary outlook and willingness to provide comprehensive volunteer assistance.”

Later this month more students from the Faculty of Modern Foreign Languages and Literature, PSU will contribute to artists’ collaborations at PERMM art gallery. On 26-27 November, PERMM will present the first international conference “The Survival Environment. Strange Practices of Environmental Interaction”, with the support by the Goethe-Institut in Russia and the Higher School of Economics. PSU students will acquire to a dialogue of world experts in ecology and the Anthropocene, art historians, artists, architects, philosophers, biologists from Germany, Russia and more countries yet to come.

PSU and Leading Regional IT-Companies to Hire Interns, Using Draft Model

Internships is a great way to gain new experience, test knowledge and see prospects for your future profession. If you are capable of convincing practice-based experts in your worthy contribution to particular tasks, chances are great you will be hired. In autumn 2021, PSU students will be given chance to enflesh  their ambitions at the best local-based IT-companies, national and international ones, developing digital solutions.

First 30 registered students will enjoy the opportunity to sneak into an IT-draft pool, meeting a variety of IT-oriented enterprises – the PARMA Technologies Group, the Simpl-Group, the SEUSLAB (СЕУСЛАБ), the RIO Soft (РИО Софт), the Smart Analytics, the Bright Soft (Брайт Софт), the Trivium (Тривиум), the FORSIGHT (ФОРСАЙТ) and the Bureau of Information Technologies (Бюро информационных технологий).  

Students can put those whom they want to cooperate with in their priority lists. Candidates should fill out a questionnaire and prepare an oral self-presentation about themselves – so that IT companies’ representatives could choose the most suitable ones for further practical tasks. In return, the chosen candidates will learn from top teams of digital solutions’ developers. Students of the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, Physics, Economics, as well as PSU College are welcomed to participate.

“The representatives of several companies at once will meet with a group of interested students. The practicing IT-professionals will tell about the tasks that trainees will have to solve,” says Dmitry Vershinin, Head of the Office for Internships, Department for Students’ Training, PSU. “In return, the students will introduce themselves, according to their study modules and faculties. Then the proposals for cooperation will follow – complying with the ‘draft’ concept in sports.”

A draft is known as a process to allocate certain players to teams. In a draft, teams take turns selecting from a pool of eligible players. When a team selects a player, the team receives exclusive rights to sign that player to a contract, and no other team in the league may sign the player. The process is similar to round-robin item allocation. “Having chosen a draft model, we very much hope that students will further find themselves in those leading teams engaged in digital solutions,” says Dmitry Vershinin.

The first Perm-based IT Draft in will take place on 25 November (Thursday), 4 pm (local time) at the AMAKS Premier Hotel (43 Monastyrskaya St., ground floor).

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