Why Study Russian?

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PRUE - Summer 2018      PRUE Study Abroad Program      PRUE pamphlet 1       PRUE pamphlet 2

Testimonials from current and former UI Russian students

Leanne Striegel making a peace signLeanne Striegel

Russian is a rich, beautiful, and difficult to master language. It unlocks doors and opens a whole new world for you. Russia and the former Soviet Union are absolutely stunning and to see it, understand it, and appreciate it, you should learn the language. The Russian people will open their home to you and feed you until you can't possibly think about food any more. Once you are friends you are friends for life. It is an amazing link to another world that you cannot learn about in the United States. My work has been enriched by my knowledge of Russian because I am able to travel and work around the world. The most important thing about learning a language is to remember to also learn about the culture, history, and traditions. Russia is very rich in culture, history, and tradition. I don't think I will ever be done learning about this amazing country.


Patrick Taffe profile photoPatrick Taffe

Learning Russian gave me the tools I need to truly understand Russian history in its full complexity. Additionally, Russian has given me the opportunity to study abroad in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Despite the end of the Cold War, Russia will always play a relevant role in world politics. Because of this, it is crucial that Americans pursue critical languages like Russian.


Isaac Rockafellow wearing a large scarfIsaac Rockafellow

Learning Russian allows you to peek into the workings of a nuclear power poised somewhere between autocracy and chaos. It can bring you Chekhov and Akhmatova, the Great Terror and the Gulag. For me, Russian brought me to Ukraine, where I am studying post-Soviet circus as Fulbright Fellow. As Ukraine is fighting separatism fomented and funded by the Russian Federation, there has never been a more interesting time to study Russian in my lifetime.


Kubat Rahatbek in front of a buildingKubat Rahatbek

I am originally from the former Soviet Union and came to the United States 15 years ago with my parents as a child. I became acclimated to the American culture and state of mind. I never lost touch with my mother tongue because I always spoke in Russian with my parents. However, my Russian language skills became quite lackluster over the years. My interest in the Russian language reignited during college and I decided to join Russian course. It was one of the best decisions I have made in college. The Russian language is quite interesting because the nuances and details in the language are deep and fascinating. I consider it a great wealth to be able to speak Russian at any time and has been very helpful in my academic career as a medical student. I have had the wonderful opportunity to do Russian-English translations for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I have found this experience to be extremely rewarding and satisfying as I was able to facilitate better understanding between the Russian and American physicians.

I strongly believe that we (US and Russia) can coexist peacefully and successfully. Russia has a rich history in the arts, especially in literature and music that has transformed their respective fields for the better. United States of course is a superpower and a magnet for the best talent from everywhere in our planet. I believe that despite the difficulties that exist between the two countries, the people of Russia and the people of America do not have anything against each other personally. The problems arise in the political spheres. If we can look for the positives and have greater respect for each other, I think this is the best way forward.


Nathan Smith on a bridgeNathan Smith

I have been always been interested in languages. In high school I studied Spanish, Italian and wanted to learn a language that would push me. At the time I was very interested in Russian literature, particularly that of Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy. I also knew about the case system that the Russian language employs, and the chance to study this both thrilled and intimidated me. I knew it would be a difficult language to learn.  After my second year I studied abroad in Moscow, Russia for two months. And I can honestly say that it was one of, if not the most influential experience of my entire college career. I knew of the animosity felt between the United States and Russia, and I was worried the people would show similar disdain because of my nationality. This belief was completely and utterly unfounded. The people were warm and friendly, for the most part, and were always ready to converse.  My study of Russian has taught me many things. First and foremost, it taught me the power of language, the way it can cross place and time, and its amazing ability to link people. I appreciate the beauty in all languages now, and I encourage anyone that wants to learn a challenging and truly beautiful language to give Russian a try. I promise you that you will learn something beyond the bare mechanics of the tongue, and help break down the prejudice and bigotry that plagues the world.


Ellis Baranow profile photoEilis Baranow

As a student planning on going into the healthcare field, I study Russian to better understand a society that has traditionally had a medical system that is very different from our own in many ways.  It is only through knowing and understanding the differences that exist between varying approaches to a common problem that progress can be made in any field.



ZiXuan Wang profile photoZiXuan Wang

1. I am interested in Russian because I love Russian music and I am also interested in Russian culture.​

2. Russia is one of the most powerful countries in the world; especially language is very useful in Russia and other middle Asia countries.

3. Russian girls are beautiful, learning the language is a good way to build up a friendship with them.

I think Russia and US are not really friendly with each other; therefore Americans should learn their language and then we could understand them better; therefore less tension maybe.

I am a Chinese student, China is always in between Russia and US, so probably learning both English and Russian would help my future and also it is cool to know three languages that are from three very powerful countries.


Greta Biedermann professional photoGreta Biedermann

When I was in my second year at Iowa I had to make an important and difficult choice between majors. I chose to study Russian because of the variety of opportunities, the passion that the language evokes, and the warmth and welcoming atmosphere of the department. I now specialize in Russian literature and it has allowed me to study with brilliant professors from all over the world, while the department itself has allowed me to travel and meet some of the top musicians, authors, and linguists from their fields. Needless to say, I've never looked back.


Joseph Springer profile photoJoseph Springer

I take Russian because it's a really unique language.  Iowa gives you the opportunity to take classes in as well as major in it and separate yourself from learners of other languages.  I think now, more than ever before is an important time to learn Russian because of the political climate between the US and Russia.  We missed out on so much collaboration between the US and the Soviet Union during the cold war, that it would be a shame if the great minds that both countries produce would go to waste due to misunderstandings between us.  Be a patriot, help both countries out, and learn Russian!


Stephanie Covarna with a friendStephanie Covarna

Sadly I didn't realize how amazing the Russian program is until my last year at Iowa. Not only do you learn an interesting language and broaden your knowledge of the world, you also get to meet a lot of interesting people that you wouldn't have known. In addition you learn about a culture and it challenges the perceptions you already have. The classes I took also opened up a new literary chapter for my life, introducing not only authors that I knew about and simply never bothered to look into, but also stories and plot lines that are completely different from the type of books that are 'popular' here.