The IU Russian Flagship brings together undergrads of various majors and disciplines. Some pursue international studies, others study microbiology and neurosciences, and still others want to become business professionals and doctors. Here some of their stories.

How I Became Interested in Russian

“Growing up in rural Indiana, I didn’t get much hands-on exposure to world cultures. Instead, I read voraciously about all manner of topics—especially history. One time period I was extremely interested in was the Cold War (1947-1991). This interesting time period featured secrets, spies, and the looming threat of nuclear war. As a result, I began to learn a great deal about Russia. Yet it seems many Americans know very little about the largest country in the world. Winston Churchill once called Russia ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.’ Even after the end of the Cold War, Russia remains an ever-relevant participant in world affairs but is still considered a mystery by some.

As I considered which university I would like to attend, I thought about my interest in politics and world affairs. When I learned about the international studies major at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, I was hooked. The establishment of the Russian Flagship at Indiana University only excited me more. As a member of the Russian Flagship, I can apply my newfound language skills to indulge in my fascination with the past as well as prepare myself for a fulfilling career in the future.”

Why the Russian Flagship is Right for Me

“The first language in which I embarked on a journey with was Spanish. I started off my sophomore year of high school with absolutely no knowledge of another language or culture and with barely any desire to learn about them. Following six weeks of study aboard in Mérida, Mexico with Indiana University’s IUHPFL intensive language program, I changed my mind from wanting to be a cardiothoracic surgeon to wanting to serve as a foreign service officer for the United States’ State Department. I knew then that I wanted to embark on yet another journey of learning a foreign language and culture, and with the most recent political tensions with Russia, I decided that learning about the country, the language, the people and their culture would be the best and most beneficial route for me.

I came to Indiana University with my mind dead set on learning Russian, and to my biggest surprise, they founded the Russian Flagship Program during my freshman year – things could not have gotten any better for me! Thus far, the Russian Flagship has offered me the ability to quickly and impressively build my spoken, written, listening and reading skills in Russian, learn about the colorful culture, and build relationships with native Russian speakers, as well as with students that have similar interests as me. Most of all, I cannot wait to spend a whole year abroad in Kazakhstan interacting with the language and the culture firsthand. The Russian Flagship – along with my majors in political science, Spanish Linguistics, and Slavic and Eastern European Languages and Cultures – is going to help me excel as a student and it will help me stand out in the professional world.”