Russian flag waving

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

What is the first language you think of when you’re thinking about a beautiful language? Is it French? Italian? Spanish? When I think of a beautiful language, I think of one that most people would never imagine: Russian. Indeed, Russian, which is the language of Call of Duty enemies, Vladimir Putin and funny dash cam videos. Admittedly, it’s not the first language people will think of when imagining a beautiful language. But there is so much more to Russian than these stereotypes.

When I signed up for Russian last year, I did it for two reasons: my degree at the time required a foreign language, and I thought Russian was a cool, angry language. I went in knowing nothing useful about the language. My mentality was to “finish what I must do and dip.” Truthfully, I had no real interest in learning a language.

However, as the first semester progressed, I became more interested in the language. I became more interested in it not only because it felt cool to understand something that a lot of my contemporaries could not, but because I felt a draw to it. I cannot describe this sudden interest, but it was similar to how I felt when I decided to pursue a career in law. I wanted to learn more and by that point I didn’t require language credits for my degree, but I signed up for in my second semester.

Russian is not an easy language to learn, but the professors I have had are amazing and are willing to help. The students I have met in the classes are – for the most part – enthusiastic and eager to learn. There is a lot of culture inside the classroom, and I highly recommend taking these courses.

There are six grammatical cases in Russian, and as a person who hates grammar, it is really difficult to understand. However, my friend Generra Strankschreier put it best, “But without them [grammatical cases], everyone would be able to speak Russian because it’d be so easy. Russian, thus, would lose its beauty of grammatical intricacies.”

My perception of the Russian language shifted, and instead of knowing Russia only for its stereotypes and military accomplishments, I began to see and understand the culture. There are world class Russian painters, writers and composers. They are hardworking people just trying to survive the harshness of life. Russia has beautiful scenery and architecture that is unmatched in other parts of the world. It is a thriving place, yet most Americans, such as myself, simply think of Vodka or the Red Army when the topic of Russia comes up.

So, I urge you to take a second look at Russia and its language. It sounds like a rough language at first, but look back and see what the Russian people have been through. Whether it be invasion, revolution, famine or government sponsored genocide, the Russian people survive and their language is a testament to that. And that is why it is a beautiful language; it’s a language with a rich history and culture, unlike many others in this small blue world of ours. There is a great Russian program here at UTSA, and I urge all of you to take a look at it.

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