Amy Brady hopes to work as an interpreter someday. She is a graduate student who will soon be studying at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
SRAS: Tell us a bit about yourself, Amy.
Amy: I’ve been studying Russian since 1999. I actually got my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA in 1997, but I later decided that I wanted to go to graduate school to study Russian Literature, because I had read a couple of works that interested me. So, that’s why I began studying Russian. I just got my Master’s Degree in Russian Literature from UCLA in June, 2004. And I have just been accepted to begin studying translation and interpretation in the Russian program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in the fall. Eventually, I would like to work as an interpreter, ideally in simultaneous voice interpretation. Working at the UN would be great, but I know it’s a very lofty goal.
SRAS: Why did you chose SPGU and SRAS?
Amy: I had a friend who studied there in 2002, so when I was making plans to go to Russia in the summer of 2003, she suggested I study at SPGU, too. She said she had really enjoyed the experience and that, with SRAS’s programs, you can set your own dates and have more say in organizing your trip the way you want it, and it also ends up being less expensive. Oh, and also because I wanted to do an internship, and SRAS was able to arrange that for me.
SRAS: Tell us about your internship, how was that experience?
Amy: My internship was a great experience. The people I worked with tried to make sure that I got to do what I wanted to, so that I could get what I wanted out of the internship. The main thing I wanted from the internship was to be able to put it on my resume and get a letter of recommendation from my boss, evaluating my work. I am currently applying to a university to study translation, and I was hoping those two things might help me get accepted. I can let you know whether it helped next month – that’s when I’ll find out if I’ve gotten accepted!
SRAS: And what about the program at SPGU? What did you study?
Amy: I took a range of classes: Conversation, Phonetics, Literature, the Russian Press, and Grammar. All classes were through the Special Philology Faculty of SPGU. Those are the same kinds of classes I have had every time I’ve studied in Russia, but these were definitely the most interesting and challenging Russian language courses I’ve ever taken.
SRAS: Why were they so interesting? Because of the professors?
Amy: I had one professor, all I remember is his first name, though – Aleksei. He had us call him by his first name. Aleksei was just really funny – he used to argue with us about different topics, just to get us to talk more. Whatever our opinion would be, he would take the opposite opinion and make us argue and defend our views. That’s why it was so challenging as a Conversation class. But he was always making jokes, so we knew never to take it seriously when he really disagreed with us. When we would be trying to explain our views, things would often come out not exactly as we had intended, because we were trying to say what we meant in Russian. He would always point this out in really funny ways, and make jokes when we would end up unintentionally saying silly things. But he managed to do it in ways so that no one ever took offense or felt like they were being mocked. I’ve had allot of Russian classes and Russian teachers, but I’ve never had one who could make class so interesting and challenging and funny.
Also, the fact that the classes were conducted entirely in Russian definitely helped. The best thing was that the students at SPGU were from different countries, and not all of them spoke English, so that forced us to communicate in Russian.
SRAS: Yes, we do offer all-Russian classes for more advanced students. And how were the other students you met in St. Pete?
Amy: I met some really nice people, but unfortunately, they all live in different countries, so I don’t know if we will be able to see each other much now. But we all exchanged phone numbers, and I am going to contact them and see if any of them are going back this summer.
SRAS: We offer a home-stay option for students to live with Russians during their stay, but you managed to arrange you own home-stay. How did that work out?
Amy: I lived with a family that I had met in 2002, when I was there with the University of Arizona Study Abroad program. While I was there, my best friend in the program lived with this family. She invited me over and introduced me to them – they wanted to meet me because I’m from Los Angeles. Wherever I go in the world, people are fascinated when they find out I am from LA. I guess maybe they think I see movie stars everyday and live in a mansion (which is far from the truth). Then after that, I kept in touch with them and asked if I could stay with them on a different program. It was a mother and her twenty-year old daughter. They spent a lot of time talking to me, they really treated me like a member of their family.
SRAS: I suppose it is to be expected, Americans still carry images of Russia as being all bread lines and communists. Anything that you would add for students thinking about studying at SPGU?
Amy: It definitely helped me improve my Russian, which will help me in my future plans – I hope to work as an interpreter. I would definitely recommend that students take classes at SPGU!