Edward swimming in the
frozen Neva river
Name: Edward Wingfield
What is your current occupation?
I’m currently a student of French and Russian language and literature at the University of Oxford.
Why did you decide to come to Russia to study Russian?
I’ve been studying Russian now since I was about 16 and I had a very charismatic teach from Russia who said that if we wanted to go on an adventure, meet cool people, see bears and drink vodka, then Russian was the thing to do. So, I went to Saint-Petersburg and Moscow and fell in love with the place and decided to come back numerous times.
Which places have you visited in Russia?
I took a gap year and went to China. Then flew up to Kamchatka and picked up rubbish at a nature park, looked after bears and that sort of thing. After that I boarded the Trans-Siberian and took it all the way back west. It was really amazing to see the “real” Russia outside of Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
A lot of people consider learning Russian to be a challenge. Do you agree with this statement? Why?
In comparison with French, it is probably one of the hardest to master, but not so much like Arabic, Chinese or Japanese, but maybe more similar in difficulty to German. But I think if you come to Russia and spend a lot of time with Russians, it can be mastered. I’ve been really impressed with the progress I’ve made since coming here and studying with Liden & Denz for a second time. The teaching here is of a really high quality and so as a result, I advised my friends to come here as well.
What sort of impression did you have of Russia and Russian culture before coming here? And how did it change after arriving here?
Honestly, I first thought of it as this place that was hugely inhospitable, full of bears, people who never smile, wintery and snowy and rather foreboding. But I couldn’t disagree more with that now. I think the language barrier is still the only thing tourist need to overcome. If you don’t speak any Russian, you could be forgiven thinking Russians are inhospitable. But Many of my friends now are Russian and the moment you start speaking a little bit of Russian to them, immediately they become far more open, honest, genuine and kind. In comparison with the UK and US, when people smile, they mean it. And when someone calls you a friend, you really are their friend. That is why I want to spend most of my life working and living here.
How has Liden & Denz made your experience in Russia better? Anything specific?
I think the way that the courses here are structured, that is having half of the class dedicated to grammar and the other half be about the news and those sorts of things, is a very productive way to go about studying. I think that Liden & Denz does a good job of getting the happy medium between speaking, grammar and discussing the sort of topics I will be working with in my final years in university studies.
Do you think a knowledge of Russian will benefit you in your future?
I think that speaking Russian as a UK graduate sets me apart from many graduates in the job market. I’m constantly being told by prospective employers that they are crying out for people who speak Russian because it is a rarity for someone to be fully English and speak Russian. I want to go into consulting and speaking Russian would be crucial working for companies in Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
What is the most unique thing about Russia that you have experienced here?
There are so many unique things here. Every day is an adventure. But one thing that always amused me is interacting with the Russian Babushki, or old grandmothers. One minute they could be yelling at you for not wearing a hat outside or Tapochki indoors, and the next they are inviting you in for tea and cakes!
If there is one thing that you will never forget about your time in Russia, what would it be?
I will never forget about the Liden & Denz vodka party last week. I had never been to any before, but decided to go to this one because it was my last week. We drank, played games and had a great time and then headed out to Ploshchad Iskusstv near the school and sat in the -15 weather under the statue of Alexander Pushkin and toasted each other and the great Alexander Pushkin. I think the pictures we took there will serve as a great reminder of all my time here at Liden & Denz and Russia.
Steve Hendrickson is an American student, currently on an internship while at the same time studying Russian at Liden & Denz