The Russian language program through NSLI-Y has been a completely enlightening experience for me personally in respect to knowledge of other cultures, as well as to potential future studies and careers. The simultaneous language acquisition and cultural excursions in Moscow have broadened both my cultural perspective and my plans for my own life. One of the most valuable contributions to these revelations has been the visits with the host family. Studying abroad with a host family grants a unique experience of being able to understand the daily lives of the people in the culture while giving immersion in the desired language. With a host family, one creates a cross-cultural bond and the opportunity to see the culture firsthand and practice language skills, which would not be possible with the language classrooms in the United States. My host family created a safe environment where I could practice the Russian I learned in class and discover how to apply it to daily life and culture through their ordinary routine and excursions throughout Moscow. They were very supportive and offered guidance and new additions to my vocabulary.
Furthermore, the program allowed me to compare various cultural aspects of Russia and the U.S. Moscow is a very modern and globally toured city, so they often supply English menus and museum exhibitions. The traffic, restaurants, shopping, and vibrant youth culture resemble those of many metropolitan areas within the U.S. However, Russia is significantly different than the U.S. and other Western countries. Russia has a unique history that shapes its culture and people. While people in the U.S. disliked and feared the Soviet Union, often believing it to be unjust, many Russians are nostalgic towards the Soviet era and look fondly upon leaders such as Lenin and Stalin. These historical and cultural differences are fascinating and vital to understand in order to comprehend Russia and its international relations. NSLI-Y has granted me the opportunity acquire Russian language skills while observing and understanding Russian culture and how it fits in with global society.
Grace was a participant in the NSLI-Y 2016 Russia Summer Program.