The Faculty of Foreign Languages (FFL) NSPU knows how to relieve the monotony of student life: semester – exams – internship. Anastasia Samsonova, a FFL graduate, says that the best way to brighten up your studies is to take up several foreign languages, find a part-time job and participate in internships abroad. Such a busy schedule is extremely beneficial: while school-leavers are storming FFL NSPU, Anastasia is about to set off for Massachusetts to introduce Russian culture to American students and to choose a major for her Master’s degree.
- Anastasia, why did you choose to major in “Teaching training (the French and English languages)”?
I finished school with in-depth study of English and wanted to take up one more foreign language. French is really beautiful and always in demand: because of the rapid population growth in Africa, it might become first in the world by 2050. I chose the French language department namely due to its highly-qualified academic staff. At first teaching itself wasn’t a priority, it was a helpful bonus. However, I started to work at language schools when I was a 1-year student and I’m still teaching now.
- Do you like teaching?
I really like teaching at online schools. It’s more like an interesting kind of leisure time than a job. I’m teaching groups and one to one. We begin a lesson by learning an idiom or a set-phrase, then we discuss news and after that, of course, we do exercises in our textbooks. Because my students are adults, we often watch films and TV series, we watch “House of cards” with businessmen, “Desperate housewives” are for women at home. There are very few teenagers in my online lessons though, the reasons are obvious – their parents don’t believe classes can be properly organized in the way their child won’t be distracted by social networks.
- What was your university life like?
I was completely focused on my studies as my priority was to learn everything that is offered by the University. Meanwhile I studied management at the evening department of another university and learnt Spanish as well. There is an eternal students’ problem – time-management, if you can’t manage your time, you fall behind your studies and lose motivation. As for my university years, they flew very fast, especially, my final year. I really like when my schedule is tightly packed, when I have a to-do list and plan my day. I didn’t take up any artistic activities though as I had neither the time nor the desire. Firstly, this is because of my personality and secondly, because I was more attracted to participating in foreign internships abroad. I got my first grant before my study at NSPU; when I was 16 I took part in the FLEX exchange program and I spent a year in the USA. This experience influenced me greatly, it seemed to help me a lot later in my life. If you got your first grant you are sure to receive a second and third grant. As a volunteer I participated in projects in Thailand, the Netherlands, Portugal. The first thing that comes to people’s mind when they think of the Faculty of Foreign languages is that it is very expensive. But! A good education gives you lots of opportunities. I managed to get a budget place at the University and my travelling was financed by grants. During my study at NSPU I went to Belgium and France. Then I participated in the AIESEC program and went to China to teach English to Chinese teenagers. We had to choose a school for our teaching practice. I thought to myself “Why not to go to China?”. So I applied for a place and got it. It cost me nothing: I bought the tickets, paid for the visa, and then I got my money back as a salary. It’s really cheap to travel if you do it wisely.
- Is it difficult to receive a grant for a project abroad?
It takes a lot of time, efforts, good academic grades (I have 4.7) and pure luck. I don’t have each application approved! This year I was going to participate in the summit for women in Paris, but my application was rejected. Of course, this is not the reason to think “It’s over! I will never go anywhere!” You should encourage yourself. I search for grants and applied for them myself. Don’t expect that somebody will choose grants for you when you come to the University.
- You are going to Massachusetts in August as a Fulbright student. Tell us about this trip.
I will be working as an assistant teacher there. To apply for this program, I need to be majoring in “Teaching English as a foreign language” and to be experienced in this field. I also had to pass TOEFL exam and have an interview. It was difficult to get what the interview jury expected from me, they only asked why I wanted to go to the USA again, what way I would introduce Siberia and if I had ever played basketball. This short interview made me think I failed, especially, when I knew there were too many applicants – 35 people per place. It took a long time to receive the results: the interview was held in October and by the end of November it was announced who would participate in a semi-final. It was only in May when we knew the winners’ names and universities. I will be working at Amherst College (Amherst College's ranking in the 2018 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges, #2 – editor’s note). My main purpose is to create a special atmosphere and to introduce Russian culture to American students. I’m racking my brains how to surprise my future colleagues. I’ve been asked to bring something special, something that can’t be bought in Moscow or St. Petersburg. I’m thinking of taking pine nuts and taiga tea. It is more challenging to introduce the region than the country: you can simply bring a traditional Russian headdress “kokoshnik” to introduce the latter.
- Is there a chance that you will apply for a Master’s degree while in Massachusetts?
Of course, I will! My main targets for this year are to master my French and to apply for a Master’s degree. I haven’t chosen the major yet, but I’m sure it will be abroad, maybe, in France or in Spain. I will take the one with a better grant, of course. Well, as usual (laughs).
Dean of the Faculty of Foreign languages prof. Ekaterina Kostina:
The Faculty of Foreign languages was founded in 1945. It has won trust and authority over the decades of its existence. It has been training highly qualified specialists who now work in the field of education in Russia, near and far abroad. The faculty has created the necessary environment for professional training of students: leading Russian and foreign scientists are invited as teachers, the latest achievements of domestic and foreign science are used as well as distant learning technologies; students are involved in research and project activities and there is an opportunity for academic mobility and so on. It is important for our applicants to learn foreign languages, to participate in various Olympiads (regional, All-Russian, international), scientific and artistic contests, academic mobility programs; it is also paramount to be able to communicate with native speakers (for example, in speaking clubs and international internships).