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Student from Argentina: ‘I have a teacher with a lot of patience’

Ricardo Villar is a student from Argentina, and he is currently enrolled in St Petersburg University’s Preparatory Course. After graduation, he plans to enter the University’s master’s programme Game Theory and Operations Research. We asked him some questions about his decision to learn Russian, his curriculum and his impressions of what it is like to study at St Petersburg University and live in St Petersburg.

When did you become interested in the Russian language?

In 2013, I participated in a project in my previous job at a company in Argentina, where I was working with Russian colleagues, and although we communicated in English, I started to learn some words in Russian. I then became interested in learning the language as a whole for my first vacation trip to Russia in 2014, but I did it through self-study online courses.

You have been studying Russian in St Petersburg University’s Preparatory Course for half a year now. What are your impressions?

My impressions for this first half of the academic cycle are positive. Learning a language is always positive, but it demands a lot of energy and time. This is the first time that I have formally studied the Russian language and have been able to become aware of the complexity of the grammar.

I would like to be able to speak the language fluently, but I know that it will be a great challenge due to its complexity.

How are the classes conducted? Have you received any tips from the teachers?

Due to the pandemic, my classes were online until I finally managed to travel to Russia at the end of November. In my case, I have a teacher with a lot of patience and dedication to teaching grammar. The methodology is dynamic and is based on the constant participation in classes of all the members of the group. By the way, we have been able to form a good group in terms of companionship, and there is good synergy.

What is your academic programme for the second semester? Do you like it?

In the second semester, we have started having specialty classes, like physics and maths. It is a great challenge to try to learn in Russian the academic concepts that I already have incorporated, but in my native language. I find Russian grammar particularly complicated; however, I have taken up this challenge.

What skills or knowledge which you have acquired in the course have turned out to be the most useful?

In this course, I have recovered the habit of academic study. Several years had passed since I finished my last academic experience before I became a student again and started interacting with students from different cultures. This networking process is very enriching and can only be achieved in academic life.

Are you going to continue learning Russian after graduating from the course?

After graduating from the course, I would like to continue improving my Russian and go on to the next level. If work projects with Russians arise in the future, it will be necessary to have a high level of the language, especially if I need to lead the projects and promote teamwork.

What are your favourite places in St Petersburg?

For a month, I lived on the University campus in Peterhof, but then I moved to St Petersburg and rented a flat. St Petersburg is a beautiful city and I have several favourite places, for example ‘Dvortsovaia Ploshchad’, which, of course, is Palace Square. I really like to walk around the city, and I especially enjoyed it when it was lit up during the New Year’s celebrations.

Because I really like music, I like to attend live music concerts of local Jazz groups, and I also really enjoy classical music. St Petersburg is a city with wide cultural offerings, so it is impossible to get bored here.

Do you have plans to continue your studies at St Petersburg University?

I plan to continue studying in the Game Theory and Operations Research master's programme at the University. Or in some other programme related to data science or business analytics.