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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).

Join our Broad International Community, Study Russian for Free!

PSU Academic Library invites international students to join the DigitalUni Russian Club for free online courses in Russian as a foreign language.  

The DigitalUni Russian Club is a project by IPR MEDIA with a grant from the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. Having joined the Club, you will:

  • participate in free conversation clubs run by teaching professors from Russian universities;
  • get access to free educational literature on Russian as a foreign language, for different levels;
  • use broad education material, including videos;
  • pass the test for knowledge of Russian as a foreign language (TORFL);
  • get a personal certificate;
  • will see presentations of Russian universities.

Note: If you are not yet a part of international studentship, the links in below the newst will help you to join us. If you are an international student already, and Perm-based, here is more to you:

PSU Academic Library invites all those interested to use its sites and facilities for a comprehensive free online courses in Russian as a foreign language along the academic year, until 1 September, 2022, using: 

1). any device with Internet access, anytime and anywhere, using a registered PSU username and password, indicated in the student’s personal account;

2) any device with Internet access, anytime and anywhere, using a n individual username and password, with an assistance by PSU Academic Library or IPR Media (support@ros-edu.ru). “Our service is addressed to those already studying at Perm State University,” says Svetlana Solaryova, Head of PSU Academic Library. “Complementing the above opportunities, PSU International Department assists our students in their access to the source. Actually, any Russian student and teaching staff studying or researching Russian language, culture, traditions and history is welcome to use it, as well.”

Get more news about PSU Academic Library.
E-Sources at the Library.
PSU Academic Library Facebook.
DigitalUni Russian Club.
Russian as a Foreign Language.

PSU International Students Lead in Russian Language Contest

A team of students from Turkmenistan, studying at the Faculty of Philology, PSU, has become a winner of a national competition in Russian language competency. The contest brought together international students from several Russian universities coming from the Republic of Botswana, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Morocco, Syria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The competition marked the 220th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Dahl (1801-1872), the famous lexicographer, a friend of Alexander Pushkin, a writer and passionate ‘collector’ of the Russian language and its dialects. The event, which started on 22 November, also echoed the national Day of Dictionaries and Encyclopedias.

The venue took place at the Astrakhan State University, with a support by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. The project aims to improve literacy among non-Russian speakers, expanding the boundaries of the Russian language and cultural space.

International students from four Russian higher educational institutions – Perm State University (PSU), Astrakhan State University, Astrakhan State Technical University and Astrakhan State Medical University met the challenge and took part in the competition.

In teams, contestants developed projects related to Dal’s professional activity, connected to his famous Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language. The students showed creativity at making colorful presentations, selecting poems and videos, comparing proverbs and sayings in different languages. PSU Turkmenistan team offered an online quiz, based on Dal’s patterns.

PSU School of Philology, founded in 1916, has been popular over years until today. Apart from studying literature and learning languages, modern students in philology learn Internet technologies, web design, media relations, content management and create their own projects.

Among the Faculty partners are universities from Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Korea, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Serbia, UK and Yugoslavia and Baltic states – running educational and research projects in Russia and overseas.

Picture source.

PSU joins Summertime Russian 2021 Language Club

More than 350 international students and applicants joined “Summertime Russian 2021” Language Club – a joint project by Russian universities, held recently online. Yulia Kuznetsova, a teacher of preparatory language courses, Department of International Relations, Perm State University (PSU), was among the tutors to run Club sessions.

More than 350 people from around the world registered to participate in the Club, to mention Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Congo, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, UK, USA, Senegal, Thailand, Zambia, and more.

Language classes were held twice a week for 1,5 hours for groups of 10-15 people, using the ZOOM platform. The participants practiced Russian language in live communication on a variety of topics, including cinema, sports, social networks, travel, pandemic and healthy lifestyle. Special attention was drawn to Russian culture, traditions, national cuisine and folklore.

“We managed to bring together completely different people in terms of training level and age. My classes, for instance, have been attended by students from 25 to 50 years old. There is a noticeable interest in the Russian language, culture and history. Although most of the participants have never been to Russia, most of them learnt about our country from books and films,”

confirms Yulia Kuznetsova.

“The group communication format has proved to be useful and effective. It was nice to notice the participants overcoming their language barrier by the end of our sessions – as they used the proposed vocabulary and enjoyed interacting in Russian. I believe a practice of summer conversational clubs for international students might be implemented at Perm State University,”

shares Yulia Kuznetsova.

“Summertime Russian 2021” Language Club has been organized through the “Russian Universities-as-Exporters” network, for the second time this year. The Club classes have been run by teachers from 11 Russian universities who are a part of the partnership:

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