The IU Russian Flagship brings together undergraduate students of various majors and disciplines, ranging from international studies, to microbiology and neuroscience, to business and cybersecurity. Here some of their stories.

How I Became Interested in Russian

“My love for learning languages began at 15, when I first enrolled in elementary French. After a summer study in Saumur, France, with Indiana University’s IUHPFL intensive language program, I knew I wanted to continue studying languages. However, I was ready for a more challenging language. Upon arrival at IU, I noticed that many students at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies studied a critical language, languages that are in high demand and are less often studied. Russian was the most attractive language to me given the diversity within the Russian speaking community. Russian is of course spoken in Russia and Eastern Europe, but also Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Baltic states. Moreover, Russia hosts a rich diversity of indigenous peoples with their own unique cultures and traditions.

I initially began studying Russian as a test of my language learning abilities, but during my time at IU, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. As a Russian Flagship student, I have been able to reach an advanced level of language proficiency, with one on one language training and opportunities to complete immersive studies both domestically and internationally. Moreover, I now have a deeper understanding of culture and have built strong relationships with Russian speaking individuals.

Studying Russian at Indiana University has played an instrumental role in shaping me into the well-rounded individual I am today. As I eagerly anticipate my capstone year in Almaty, Kazakhstan, I am immensely grateful for the support and encouragement provided by the Russian Flagship program.

Why the Russian Flagship is Right for Me

The first foreign languages I set out to learn were German and Spanish, both of which I began studying in middle school. In high school, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Berlin for a summer. This experience solidified my desire to pursue a career in diplomacy as a foreign service officer by studying international relations at university.

Coming from Oklahoma, I did not know IU offered such a wide diversity of language courses, nor did I have any idea what a Language Flagship Program was. With my Turkish roots in mind, my general plan was to study Central Asia to gain valuable knowledge of the Turkic peoples living there and prepare me to become a foreign policy specialist working on this region of the world. To fulfill this plan, I intended to take standard Russian classes to learn Central Asia’s lingua franca and participate in the Turkish Flagship to learn Turkish, a language whose grammar and vocabulary would give me a strong foundational knowledge with which I could more easily learn Central Asian Turkic languages. However, the Turkish Flagship Program at IU closed my freshman year, so I reversed my plans, studying Turkish in standard classes, and participating in the Russian Flagship Program.

The best laid plans may often go awry, but in this case, they certainly went awry in my favor! In the Russian Flagship Program, I have been able to quickly learn Russian and effectively use the language at an advanced level of proficiency, learn about the diverse cultures, histories, and diplomatic strategies of Central Asian nations. In the latter stages of my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Kazakhstan for 9 weeks during the summer, forming strong and lasting friendships with American and Kazakh students alike. I am delighted at the opportunity to return to Kazakhstan after my senior year for a full academic year, and I am certain that the experience I gain on this full year abroad will play a vital role in preparing me to realize my career goals. The Russian Flagship Program – combined with my majors in Folklore and Central Eurasian Studies, has helped me excel as a student and will help me stand out as a future professional.