Good news on the Russian front

Sep 24th, 2014

Janet Harron

Good news on the Russian front

Despite the threats of sanctions, reprisals, counter-reprisals and the controversy over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, there is good news on the Russian front for Memorial University.

Three undergraduate students (two from the Faculty of Arts and one from the Faculty of Business Administration) have been granted Russian State scholarships and will be spending up to ten months studying in the country during the 2014-15 academic year.

Meghan McDonald is from CBS and is in her fourth year at Memorial. She was accepted to study at Kazan Federal University in the Volga Region, one of the oldest university in Russia, founded in 1804, whose previous students include Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Vladimir Lenin, who studied law there but was expelled for organizing student disturbances.

Meghan acknowledges that studying Russian at university “isn’t the type of discipline you think of when you’re a kid.” Growing up in a family of cinephiles, she gained an appreciation for Soviet Russian movies of the 1950s and 1960s, an era knowns as “the thaw” after decades of Stalinism. Arriving at Memorial she enrolled as an English student but then took a Russian film course with Dr. Alec Brookes.

“It clicked – this is what I want to study.”

Meghan assesses her ability in the Russian language as “intermediate” – “I can order food and function in everyday life” – but in Kazan she will be immersed in language, living with Russian students, and studying language, amongst other things, for the entire ten months. Meghan is looking forward both to experiencing Russia’s cultural richness and to being on her own (“the longest I’ve been away from home before is a month in St. Petersburg with the MUN summer program”).

Meghan plans to pursue graduate studies in Russian after graduating from Memorial.

“For some reason, this niche discipline – which might seem confining - actually opens up so many possibilities for me.  Once you become well acquainted with faculty members in a department, you can see where they’ve gone and what they’ve done with their careers – well, I’m very confident about the future.”

The Russian State awards are administered by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada and cover all tuition costs and living expenses.

“Three years ago I made a formal request in Moscow to establish more awards for Canadian students to study in Russia, and since then I have promoted the idea so now I am gratified that students here at Memorial have this opportunity,” said Dr. Stuart Durrant of the Department of German and Russian.

Meghan’s fellow students Josh Bonnell (Russian and political science) and Jon Mankow (business) will be attending the Southern Federal University in Rostov, Russia.