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Learn Russian During Your Gap Year

Imagine spending your gap year in Russia.

Think of the exotic places you could visit, the lasting relationships you could build, and the valuable skill you could learn...that is, learning to speak Russian. After all, for more and more students, the gap year is becoming less of an extended vacation and more of an opportunity to boost one's resume. And few things look better on a resume than one of the prized foreign languages. I can't help you much with Chinese, Japanese or Arabic, but I can help you with Russian.

And so I repeat: Imagine spending your gap year in Russia...or in Ukraine, for that matter. (Russian is one of the two native languages in Ukraine.) In fact, Ukraine is often preferable because for visits of less than three months, no visa is required. Compare that with the decidedly tedious visa process for going to Russia, and Ukraine looks better and better. But in either case, you'll benefit a whole lot more if you lay a solid groundwork for the language before going there.

With some of the new language learning techniques out there now, you can quickly learn the Russian alphabet (using these videos). I mean, literally, you can be reading Russian in a weekend. And you can learn to speak your first few hundred words or so in a month, in your spare time. With a strong foundation in the language set down ahead of time, your valuable time in country can then be spent practicing the language in real situations. Here's a great podcast for learning Russian to get you started.

What kinds of situations, exactly? How about interning at one of the international newspapers or TV studios in Moscow? How about working at one of the five star corporate hotels in Kiev? (As a native speaker of English, your addition to the staff will be very welcome.) Russia is the largest country on earth with massive oil reserves, so how about interning at one of the giant petrol companies operating in Siberia and elsewhere? (Such work might not enrich your soul, but it can certainly enrich your bank account.)

You could work at a summer camp in Ukraine's popular Crimean peninsula, teaching kids to swim in the pristine Black Sea. You could volunteer to work at one of the numerous orphanages in Russia or Ukraine. I've even known students who've gone to Moscow to manage one of the many western fast food chains. The opportunities are endless, really. But again, it will make your time there infinitely more rewarding if you learn just a little Russian before you go. Of course in this day and age you can learn Russian online from the comfort of your own home.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 August 2013 03:54 )