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How Kate Became Katya

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 How Kate Became Katya

- Why did you decide to study Russian language?

- I started studying Russian for several reasons. I love Russian literature, especially Gogol and Dostoevsky, and I wanted to be able to read it in the original language. I am also very interested in international relations and it bothers me that the United States and Russia have such a complicated relationship. I hoped that by learning Russian I could help to improve that relationship in my own little way with better mutual understanding.  

- What was the hardest thing about learning Russian?

- The hardest thing has been that Russian has such specific words for everything. It can be very frustrating to find out that the basic words you find in a textbook, especially the verbs, are in practice woefully insufficient.  

- Name three stereotypes, which turned out to be true.

- It's true that Russians don't smile as much as Americans. Sometimes Russians come off as rude or bad tempered, but it's nothing to he worried about; they're very kind and tender when you get to know them. Another stereotype that turned out to be true was that Russians love to philosophize and talk about 'the Russian soul.' And finally, I found that Russian hostesses are as aggressive about feeding you as I was warned they would be. When you go visiting in Russia, definitely go with an empty stomach; your hostess will be sure to fill it!  

- Name three stereotypes, which turned out to be a lie.

- A lot of people think that Russians drink a lot. While I'm sure this is true of some Russians, I didn't encounter much drunkenness at all. There are also no bears hear, save Masha the bear, who lives in the Spass-Preobrazhensky Monastery. Also, not everyone here wears Adidas and listens to hard bass. Some do, but it's less widespread than the memes would suggest.  

- What are the differences between Russians and Americans?

- I don't know much about Italian culture, so I'm not really sure. But Russians and Americans differ in that Russians don't smile as much, but they are much more likely to touch each other than Americans. Russians also stand closer together than Americans do when standing in lines or talking to one another. Americans are also much more punctual than Russians.

 - What makes Yaroslavl different from the other Russian cities you visited?

- Unfortunately I haven't visited many other Russian cities, but Yaroslavl is a medium sized city: not as overwhelming as Moscow or St. Petersburg, but there's still plenty to do. Yaroslavl has such a rich, beautiful history that you can see everywhere in its many churches and museums.  

- What’s your favorite thing about Yaroslavl?

- My favorite thing about Yaroslavl is the Volkov Theater. Yaroslavl is the birthplace of the Russian theatrical tradition, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching performances at Russia's oldest theater whenever I wanted to.  

- What’s your least favorite thing about Yaroslavl?

- My least favorite thing was the snow in March. When I first got here in January I didn't mind the snow, but by March I was very sick of it.  

- What would you change in the city?

-  I would perhaps fix the roads. Yaroslavl's roads have a lot of potholes, and driving on them can be a bit of a bumpy ride.  

- What advice would you give to those who want to visit Yaroslavl?

-  Definitely catch a performance at the Volkov Theater and spend some time wandering the old city. I would also recommend dining at Mamuka. It's my favorite restaurant in town.