Mmm…Russia? Complex, historic, strong are the association I get when I heard the word Russia. After studying Russian history I have developed a rather in depth knowledge of the cultural characteristics.
I finished university in America with a main focus on Russian history, but unfortunately was not able to develop any Russian language skills. I decided that the best way to develop those skills was to move to Russia and practice it with native speakers.
Living in Russia has been a dream of mine for quite some time. Arkhangelsk is an amazing city that allows many different avenues for people to find events that are interesting. In Arkhangelsk it is very rare to find a person that is not willing to help in some way or another. When people find out I am a foreigner, I am met with honest curiosity that has lead to me developing many amazing friendships.
As a Russian friend told me, “There is no boring places, only boring people.” My advice is to find events that interest you, meet new people, and get out and experience what it is to truly live in Russia.
I enjoy my studying here very much. The preparatory department here does an amazing amount of work in a small amount of time. After 8 months I was able to successfully hold conversations with native Russians on a variety of topics. My professors are extremely helpful, and have made me feel as comfortable as possible both in the classroom, and while doing assignments. They force me to be active in class and to use my Russian language to explain myself in topics that I never thought I would be able to. They value my input on topics that involve my home country and do very well in facilitating dialogue. And the international office has an amazing staff that I could never imagine ever being without.
The Russian North is an amazing place that is filled with amazing people. If you come to Arkhangelsk with an open mind, a willingness to explore and experience new things then your education will expand far beyond your subject and into your life. Don’t let the weather, or the difficulty of the Russian language keep you from coming, because both are filled with amazing hidden beauty.
Richard Byington (USA),
NArFU first year master student
of the Masters in Circumpolar History programme