Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gettin' me a Russian Education!

Ok, so second post! This one's going to be as the title suggest, about the Russian education system. Might be kind of boring but interesting compared to how things go back in America. This one's going to have no pics but just what I've experienced so far with the education here so don't complain!

So with the Middlebury C.V. Starr school abroad, we have a couple of courses we can choose from which are taken with the other students studying abroad with Middlebury. Courses range from Literature, Culture, Politics, History, Stylistics (Writing Class), Oral Speech, Russian Film and Grammar. Out of those we have to take 5 courses, but with Middlebury you have to take four courses from that list and then take 1 mainstream course (with real Russian students) at the university if you are at the 300-level or above in Russian. So being that I did language school this summer I have to take a wonderful mainstream in the Fall and then two in the Spring plus I'm also a Russian major so it just makes sense to. So currently I am taking: Grammar, Culture, Russian Film and Stylistics.

This wouldn't have been such a problem if Russians knew about two things: a course catalog and set class times. I don't understand how things work in Russia but they seem to know what they're doing. The first of course we know is a book/online catalog you can look for your classes, the dean of the department here has a sort of catalog but it isn't as thorough and informative as the ones in America, because from that list some might/might not be offered even if they're listed as being offered for example this Fall. And then sometimes classes might meet an hour later or early or not meet at all on any given day, which isn't a problem for them because the students all travel around as a group and have the same set classes so you don't have to worry about missing the announcement that the last class (para) is going to meet at 15:00 rather than 14:30. Luckily that hasn't happened to me mainly because I was still in the searching period of a course.

So all in all, I went to three classes before settling on this last one which I'm hoping will be fine. Originally I was searching for classes based around pedagogy, translating, and that stuff being that we are the Pedagogical University in Yaroslavl and also to help get rid of one class for the Linguistic minor I'm trying to fulfill at Middlebury. The first class was recommended by my Grammar professor and it was Russian Syntax which dealt with Russian sentence structure and was pretty much a grammar class as well. I went with another Middkid who seemed interested as well and I was told it was an all girls' class since most of the males are in the music department, being that most of the girls will end up as teachers for elementary schools. The class was really welcoming, one of the girls saying that they never get to see boys in their classes and they were really helpful. The teacher was also really nice but the class didn't seem like one I wouldn't take a lot from- the teacher lectured and didn't write anything down which is fine but I needed more of a discussion based class I guess. Plus due to a schedule change, how I hate schedule changes, I would have to run back and forth between the buildings which are separated by a ~15 min bus ride on the marshrutka in order to get from Stylistics to Syntax to Culture.

The second class was more interesting in a good and bad way and it was closer to the university, located in the Philology department. The class was called something along the lines of "Issues with Translation in Modern Texts in Russian" and it was for third year students. Unfortunately I had to know Grammar at a native pace and the students weren't too focused I would say. I know back at Midd I've definitely had classes where I would toggle between taking notes and facebook just to stay awake but the underlining message is that I was still focused 95% of the time and ready to participate. One girl in this class must have never heard the word, 'discreet'. Once class started she pulled out what seemed to be her phone and began to read, what, I don't know. The class is structured for an hour and 35 minutes with a break in between, and she literally only raised her head twice from the phone to answer the question which she did poorly; the other students having to help because she wasn't paying attention. What killed me the most was that she was in the direct line of view from the professor and she had her phone held up to her face clearly visible to the professor. No one, except maybe 2 girls out of the ~15 students had prepared the homework and the rest as one girl put it- "I guess it's time to improvise". I also couldn't attend this class due to a conflicting class but it was nice, I guess, to see the setting of a 'typical' Russian class.

In between this last class and the one I'm in now, I went to the Philology department to check if there were any more classes I could take but when I went the schedules were taken down and they were REDOING them which I can't seem to understand once the semester has started. So I guess my dream is dead of taking a course on translation until the Spring I guess.

The third class which I'm in now is based in the Journalistic/Advertising department and the professor is my Russian Film professor. This class is Rhetoric and was really interesting because it is more discussion based. The only problem is I've never learned about Socrates, Plato, or any of those Greek/Roman philosophers so I have to do some background research in English to get a good handle on what the heck they're trying to say. The class meets on Friday at 2pm so I guess its not that bad, even though we didn't have class on Friday but its already October and classes end December so I can suck it up. Some of the students speak at lightning speed and the professor has to ask them to slow down- mainly for me I'm guessing but also like she stated 'Its wrong of them to do' being that I guess they're preparing to be Journalists or some other profession which requires them to speak in public.

Its been interesting jumping from these three different classes and hopefully I'll have no problem keeping up with this Rhetoric class. But I say we should consider ourselves lucky for having all our classes set out a semester in advance with very minimal changes. I guess being here has thought me to appreciate a lot things- like THE INTERNET as well back home.

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