Hannah Kitchen ’14 Senior Profile: Russian Studies

Kitchen.HI stumbled into my Russian and Post-Soviet Studies major. It was a slow-motion stumble that began when I took Russian 101 the first semester of my freshman year. At the time, the decision to study Russian emerged from the fact that, while I’ve studied a variety of languages, I’ve never studied a Slavic one. So, prompted to fill the gap in my linguistic knowledge and spurred on by the desire to decipher the words of Russians in film, I began my studies. However, in order to fully understand a language, one must understand the history, politics and culture of the people behind it. I really wanted to understand Russian, thus I stumbled into my RPSS major to study all things Russian. It has been a fascinating scholastic journey.

Reciting Russian poetry during the Russian Language Olympics was one of the most memorable aspects of my time in William and Mary’s RPSS program. First, I gained a greater understanding of the poetic potential of the Russian language. As a non-Russian learning the language, it was a staggering realization. Next, I got a taste of Russia’s prestigious literary tradition and cultural heritage. Most importantly, I now have poems by Pushkin, Lermontov and Tyutchev in my repertoire, ready to whip out at a moment’s notice to impress those around me.

Pursuing in a multidisciplinary major such as Russian and Post-Soviet studies is an exercise in mental agility. Studying Russian allowed me to not only learn something new every day, but to also engage in a variety of disciplines, from history to political science. Russian language grants me access to different facets of Russia, and that is unquantifiably cool. Therefore, my plan is to continue studying Russia and Russian in graduate school, with the eventual hope of carrying my knowledge over to work in the public sector.

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