Ask Our Students!
“If you've ever been even minutely curious about the culture, current events, Communism, or literary classics of Russia, then taking Russian is a satisfying way to gain insights. The language reveals much more than you expect. And if you haven't been curious, Russia is one of the most fascinating and dynamic countries of the Eastern world! Now's the perfect time to start learning." Morgan Holmes '11
"The department is really, really strong and though the language is pretty tough and definitely a fair amount of work, I won't lie about that, it's been worth it to me to take a language that I actually enjoy, as opposed to something that I would just suffer through and have wasted however much time." Liza Styles ’09
“Russian is the 5th most widely spoken language in the world, and yet very few Westerners consider learning it. Be among the few who do! The language is musical, sexy, and fun to speak. Russians love to laugh, drink, make music, talk late into the night, and celebrate anything and everything, and the language is the key to the party.” Jenny Holm ‘07
“Russia is a fascinating place, and most know very little about its history, language and culture.” Robbie Webber ‘07
"There is a whole world of Russian music, art, literature, dance, culture, and science that Americans are largely unaware of." Ben Owens '07
What’s special about Russian at Carleton?
"Russian class is exceptionally fun - sometimes to the point of it not even feeling like "class" anymore. On Tuesdays and Thursdays you practice conversing in Russian with Anna Mikhailovna by just chatting and essentially playing trivia games. You're learning a lot but also having a really fun time. Laughter is guaranteed!" Mara Kilgore '13
"The class sizes are very small, so you quickly get to know everyone in the class. It doesn't take long for everyone to feel like family, and there is always someone to turn to for personal and academic help." Laura Roberts '10
"The Russian professors are the best I've ever met or heard of - as weird as it may sound, Laura Goering teaching you complex grammar structures is not a terrifying experience. In fact, we usually all wind up laughing!" Kevin McGrath '10
"Because of the department's small size, students are able to receive more attention than they typically would. From writing and performing small skits to enjoying a home-cooked Russian meal courtesy of our professor, it is truly an enjoyable experience." Alex Dvorkin ’08
"There are only three professors, your classes will be small, and there's strong community within the department. You can look forward to dinners at Diane/Anna's house and tons of activities put on by the Language Assistant, including the Russian Table during Tuesday lunch, and Russian Tea on Thursday evenings." Dan Callahan ‘08
"If you take Russian, be prepared to do something fun in class every day like singing, watching TV clips in Russian, acting in mini plays, playing trivia, and if it turns out to be your lucky day, getting to taste Russian sweets imported directly from Moscow’s Red October chocolate factory just for the good students in Carleton’s Russian classes." Ben Owens '08
But isn’t Russian really hard?
"Russian is a fun language to study because, unlike English, it really makes sense. Learning Russian requires a lot of time and effort, but if you know how to study and devote the time, Russian definitely isn't hard. It can seem overwhelming (especially the first term), but it's never impossible because the professors are so dedicated to making sure you understand and really learn it." Mara Kilgore '13
"Russian homework, quizzes, and tests are not sneaky. The homework is straightforward, and if you keep up on the homework, the quizzes are easy. All the grammar that you will be tested on is covered in class, so the tests have no surprises. If you study and pay attention in class, you will do well." Laura Roberts '10
"The general consensus in my class of Russian students is that the 100 level classes were not that stressful or too much work. I’ve found that the classroom atmosphere in all my Russian classes was pretty relaxed and jovial and I’ve found that students in Russian classes develop a family-like bond after being together after a while." Ben Owens '08
"Russian is not as difficult as they would have you believe. And when you take Russian here you get to meet a lot of excellent people and know them intimately, besides - not least on account of the small class/department size." Emily Young ‘05
"Russian does come with a bit of a workload, and it can be challenging, but it's nothing unmanageable. In exchange for your effort, you come away with a phenomenally deep understanding of the Russian language and its history, as well as the culture of Slavic nations. Take Russian" Dan Callahan ‘08
What is the department like?
"Even after finishing my time in Russian a year and a half ago, Anna Mikhailovna still spots me around campus and calls me by my Russian nickname. She loves theatre and always asks me what plays I'm participating in during the term. Because the department is small, Russian students and professors get to know each other in this close, personal way." Morgan Holmes '11
"The size of the department also means that your Tuesday/Thursday sessions are taught by a prof, instead of a TA. Usually, that means Anna. What makes the deal even better is that Anna speaks not a word of English (to students, at least), so your second class will be conducted entirely in Russian. And you'll understand. That's how good she is." Dan Callahan ‘08
"It's a strong department, the professors are great, and other amazing people are taking Russian." Ayla Grey '08
"I’m no Russian department fanatic, but I seriously think that the language requirement should just be made into a general Russian requirement." Ben Owens '07
"There is no other department at Carleton in which you can have such small classes with such strong faculty members." Roddy Theobald '06
What about the Carleton Moscow Seminar?
"There is no other program in the US quite like the Carleton Moscow seminar; simply put, ours is on a level that no one else matches. Not only do we have the opportunity to study at Moscow State University, which is unparalleled in its ability to teach Russian to foreigners, we also have the opportunity to travel to Ulan-Ude and Baikal. I consider the 10 weeks that I spent in Russia on the Carleton Program to be some of the best, as well as most important, weeks of my life. If you are considering learning Russian, the Carleton Moscow Program is a key strength of Carleton's Russian Department and sets it apart from every other Russian program in the States." Brian Kilgour '11
For me, the Carleton Moscow Seminar was the best crash course in Russian culture I could have hoped for, and a fantastic chance to improve my language skills. You also get to see Russia outside of Moscow (ie. St. Petersburg, SIBERIA!) and thanks to our travels, I left the program knowing that now I have a true connection to an entire country that most Americans don't know much about. Lily Schieber '12
"The Moscow Program is reason alone to study Russian. I woke up every morning of those ten weeks with a smile on my face, excited for the new experiences the day would surely bring. In Russia, you never know quite what to expect, which makes each hour, each conversation, each turn of the corner an adventure in itself." Jenny Holm ‘07
"[Unique experiences on the trip included] learning how to brew and drink a cup of Russian tea properly, getting scolded by my 80-year-old babushka whenever I came back after eleven, getting blessed by people from three different religions in one day, seeing Siberia (which is about as different as the moon is from what you’re used to, and can look an awful lot like it sometimes.)" Ben Owens '07
Can I combine study of Russian with a major in another field?
I'm a big fan of language-learning, and decided to start studying Russian when I came to Carleton. I'll be honest--Russian is nothing like the Spanish and French I took in high school--but that's what makes it so great. Studying Russian has taught me how awesome it can be to learn a language so unlike my native English. Even if you don't plan to major in Russian, you gain an understanding of how (in my opinion) incredible and diverse languages are from one another. And, regardless of what major you choose, you will never regret the fact that you have the ability to talk to Anna Mikhailovna. Lily Schieber '12
"Absolutely! I'm an International Relations and Russian double major and the two majors compliment each other extremely well. One of the feature about the Carleton Russian Department is its professors' abilities to combine art/literature with politics and history. In particular, I found the Stalin seminar (RUSS 395) to be very helpful in that it provided me with a background for Soviet politics through both art and history. Carleton's Russian Department closely adheres to the liberal arts philosophy, and I believe that it is possible to combine the Russian major with any other major and pursue any interests you may have." Brian Kilgour '11
One of the best aspects of the Russian Dept. is the amount of interdisciplinary study. Russian majors are challenged with intensive study in language, literature, culture, history and even economics. Furthermore, the department, while plenty challenging on its own, encourages students to pursue interests in other fields. Currently, we have three Russian majors--one is a double in Poli-Sci/IR and I am concentrating in Biochemistry and Pre-Medical Studies. So...YES! you can combine Russian with other academic areas; however, there are more than enough chances to bridge disciplines within the department as well. James Jackson '11
"Definitely. It's always a matter of planning it out right, and the professors are always happy to work with you to help make things fit." Kevin McGrath '10 (International Relations)
"Taking Russian was one of my two or three favorite experiences at Carleton, and as someone who did not end up as a Russian major, I would encourage anyone to consider taking Russian even if their primary academic interests lie elsewhere." Roddy Theobald ’05 (Math)
"Diane Nemec-Ignashev has been talking to me a lot about different opportunities to combine Russian and geology. Don't let your potential major decide what language you learn. There will always be ways to use the two together if you look for them." Frances Reid ’07 (Geology)
"I know two bio majors for whom Russian is very important (one young woman planning to become a doctor will use Russian next year to volunteer at a clinic with many Russian patients, and a young man I know is going to Russia next summer to study the Russian national parks system.) Another young woman I know took Russian at Carleton largely because she loves the music of Russian composers. For those interested in volunteering, knowledge of Russian provides many opportunities, whether that means working in orphanages, or more recently fighting the AIDS epidemic that is predicted to erupt if the Kremlin continues refusing to admit that Russia has an AIDS problem. This past summer Carleton just had two young women volunteering in both those areas." Ben Owens '07