domingo, 3 de julio de 2011

East Asian Studies in Russia. First hand experience

Once again we have the pleasure to introduce a new graduated in East Asian Studies from a diferent place.

In this case, Katerina Guseva, who has studied Chinese Culture and Language in St. Petersburg State University in Russia will tell us how are these studies in her country.
Let´s talk about East Asian Studies in Russia. If you had to give advise to someone interested in these kind of studies, how would you do it?

I would offer that person some books like Lin Yutang 'My country and my people". My goal would be to make a man know what actually is studying China, and of course I would try to brake some stereotypes.

And what about your University studies, what are the choices in Russia? do you have degrees, master degrees, doctorates related to East asian studies?

You can study any oriental language you want. There is Mongolian department, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic, Vietnamese ones etc. There are also some rare languages - Tibetan, Thai, Hindi, Urdu, Burmese. Ancient ones - Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian... The only problem is that admission to some rare language departments occurs only once in 1, 2, 3 even 4 and 5 years. For example, to enter Ethiopian department you would have to wait 4 years now. But it's just because only few people are interested in those languages.

And yes, you can continue you studies in any choosen field and have bachelor, master and doctor degree.

What was your experience in these studies?
I studied Chinese language and culture in Saint-Petersburg (St.Petersburg State University) for three years, and spent one year in China.

What did you like the most? would you recommend other students to study in your University? How was your relation with the proffesors? Were you happy with what you learnt or maybe not to much?

I like my department. I think, there are best proffesors ever. And their attitude to students is very friendly, the atmosphere is rather familial, than academic.

I'm happy with what I've learnt and learning now, but maybe because I wanted to study this from the beggining. I don't think that everyone would like to study oriental languages. But it depends on everyone's view , for instance, I can't imagine myself at the Economic department.

Has the University helped you in your trips to China?
My study in China was organized by my university.

Did you have an scholarship to study in there?
Yes, I had, but it wasn't provided by my university

Did your cultural knowledge about China helped you in your adaptation to this country?
On the one hand, I was fully-prepared. I was told about Chinese way of life, their habits and daily culture. But on the other... you know, it was theoretical. So first time I was shocked, of course.

Considering that China is a neighbour of Russia how were you treated by the chinese people?
Mostly they are very friendly and ready to help foreigners, I would say, the Chinese even feel responsible for them . But culture gaps causes some misunderstanding all the time.

Have you had the chance to use your learned knowledge in China? ( like the things you have learned in the degree)

Yeah, I think something like Chinese ethnopsycology course is really helpfull. Mostly all students of my department who go to China are well-prepared.

And what about your level of chinese language, does your University prepare Russian students well to go and defend themselves in China?

It depends on everyone's skills. I'm not a perfect student, so my Chinese is not terrific. But people who had studied really hard didn't feel uncomfortable because of the language barrier.

How many people begin these studies per year?

There are about twenty-twentyfive students that begin these studies every year.

What´s the impact of these studies in Russia? What´s the academic offer?

I would say the current situation impacts these studies. Chinese-Russian relationships are growing and developing, and more people are getting involved, so of course there are more opportunities to use one's chinese skills and people start studying it.

And regarding the academic offer, what are the actual options that someone who wants to follow your path have?

Prepare for preliminary examination and pass it. But that's very difficult.

Do you think you are going through an expansion of Oriental Studies in Russia?
Yes, and I'm sure it will getting stronger in future.

Do you think that the common people in Russia consider China as a threat or as an opportunity?
Some people have a stereotype that one day China will attack Siberia. But I don't see a reason for panic. Finally, even if that happens, at least someone will work there. Educated people consider China as opportunity, and obviously is.

Which are the job possibilities to the graduates in these studies? What has been your experience?
I haven't worked yet, but the most widespread jobs are interpreter and to translate from Chinese to Russian.

Surely the commerce between Russia and China is huge, are there students working in foreign trade?
Yes, a lot. They work for both Chinese and Russian companies.

Would you join again this degree?
Do you mean like if I had another chance to choose my occupation? If in that case - no, I would stick with China.


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