Many people from different countries, the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, France, Norway, Colombia, Australia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Japan, the Republic of Korea, just to name a few, come to Petrozavodsk State University. Some of them come here to study the Russian language; others become the exchange students of PetrSU, who study at our university for one term. Among them are those whose thirst for knowledge is so strong that they decide to stay for a longer period. And so did Anna Grigerova and Katerina Savicka.
Anna was born and raised in Slovakia, yet she has enrolled into Masaryc University (the Czech Republic), where she met Czech girl Katerina. The girls became friends and decided to take part in the exchange program of Masaryc University and PetrSU in the framework of the Agreement of Cooperation between the two institutions. We asked how Katerina and Anna got to know Russia, how they are living and studying here, as well as what interesting observations they had made.
“As children we used to watch “Nu, pogodi!” and it was our first meeting with Russia,” said the girls together. And then each remembered something personal.
“When I was 7-8 years old, my father told me about communism. Of course, I couldn’t understand a thing, but I listened attentively. We also had many books by Russian writers, as well as books on the culture of your country, as my parents were interested in it,” said Katerina.
“Together with my friend I started going to CHL hockey games, rooted for Russian team SKA–Saint-Petersburg. There we met fans from Russia and I wanted to learn the Russian language,” told us Anna.
Having enrolled into the university, the girls started learning the “great and mighty”, and aiming to improve their language skills took part in the exchange program and left for Russia. Now they get the first-hand experience of the country and its citizens.
“When we arrived in Moscow, we stayed there for a couple days, and every day we walked around the city for 10-12 hours. We wanted to see the architecture, watch the everyday life of its citizens, and learn how it works. We came to know the city at late evenings and nights. The passersby must have laughed at our sight as we were dressed as a cabbage: besides the coats we wore 2-3 sweaters and two hats. It was very cold!” remember the girls humorously.
“To this day people in our countries believe that here a Russian man plays balalaika, and bears walk on the streets. It is hard to challenge these and other stereotypes, especially when the textbooks we read in class have been published in the 70s-80s and have many archaisms, as “baryshnia”. “tovarishch” and others. Russia is a modern country, and to see that you have to come here!” believe the girls.
Peculiarities of the national studying
“At the universities of our countries you won’t hear the bells for the classes, yet there are specific hours for the lecture and both the lecturers and the students know when it’s supposed to start and end. Besides, the breaks between the lectures are from 10 to 15 minutes long, and that allows the students to get form one building to another. We do not have test during the terms, all the exams are taken by the end of a term,” said the students.
All the languages are equally important
Katerina said “I respect people who speak foreign languages. I take them for a model, I speak Slovakian, German and English. Knowing languages is necessary for travelling, as well as general awareness. You can read books and news from different sources and that helps to make your own opinion on an event.”
Anna: “Ability to speak the English language at least on intermediate level is a prerequisite for job-finding. Knowing other languages is an additional asset. I speak Czech, English and a little bit of Serbian and Polish.”
Studying before pleasure
“We have learned that our dormitory and the adjacent one have sports gyms and now we go there. We enjoy attending entertaining lectures of the Open University of PetrSU, where we can “visit” museum of the world and were introduced to Russian and the world’s art. We learned many interesting facts about the history of Karelia and have already virtually visited Valaam that we hope to see by ourselves one day. Also we want to go to the Kizhi and Solovki Islands, Olympic Sochi and Murmansk to see icebreakers,” shared the girls their plans.
Everyone to his taste
“When we came in Russia, we were surprised that you can cook sushi with cheese and bake them, as well as amazed at the assortment of mayonnaise, the whole shelf is for different kinds, while we have just two types,” said the girls.
Form Russia with love
For the souvenirs Anna and Katerina are planning to bring matreshka dolls, super-warm socks as they are called, hand-made gifts and chocolate.