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Russian dictionary in a Latvian bookstore
Russian dictionary in a Latvian bookstore

Languages have always been a passion of mine, but it took me quite a while to realize that they are what I want to deal with in terms of my career. Like many people, I had different ideas while growing up about who I want to become as an adult, including policeman, lawyer, and diplomat. However, I ruled out all of them for one reason or another. Ultimately, in my second to last year in high school, I realized that I want to delve further into foreign languages, so I decided to apply for English and Russian (teaching profession) and ended up in the lovely university city of Göttingen.

 

The fundament for all of this, as I already mentioned, was laid in school, and I would like to go more into detail. In School, I took every language class I possibly could, which were four in total. First, I took ten years of English classes, from year ten until graduatio. I must say that English and I had a love-hate-relationship for a very long time, which finally turned into love. There were several reasons for this. First, I was always a little bored in English classes. I did very well in exams and received above average grades, although I almost never studied for the exams. Second, I used English in class only for a very long time, so I had no motivation to improve my English, except for good grades. Last but not least, I had a German and history teacher who was very keen on teaching her subjects, but I remember that she claimed on several occassions that anglicisms would make the German language ugly. In her opinion, English was a language with a limited vocabulary (as opposed to the respectable German language) and a fairly easy grammar. At that time, I was a student who was capable of being influenced and did not know better, but now I know that her claims were utter nonsense. In its history, the English language took in many loan words which lead to a vast vocabulary. In terms of grammar, the German tense system is a walk in the park compared to the English one. Luckily, in my last years of high school, I had an ambitious young English teacher who aroused my passion for the English language.

Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University
Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University

In sixth grade, French became a mandatory subject and my second foreign language. I usually did well in French class and occasionally even received better grades in French than in English. Unfortunately, my fault was that I had no interest in studying French vocabulary at that time, and as time went by and texts got more complex, my vocabulary remained on a very basic level. Therefore, in tenth grade, I dropped French classes and took Russian instead. It turned out to be a huge success for me. I was very motivated and often had the second best result in our exams - we had a native speaker in our class whom I was unable to surpass, of course. Even when my grades overall dropped in my last year, I maintained excellent grades in Russian. I enjoyed the subject so much that I decided for Russian to cover the language part of my final exams. Studying Russian was definitely my most adventurous choice in school, and it shaped my journey through life more than I could have ever imagined at that time.

Books on Latvian language and history
Books on Latvian language and history

In between French and Russian, in eighth grade, I decided for Latin as an obligatory elective subject. I was blessed with two great teachers, and translating Latin texts and learning about Roman culture, history, and literature were fascinating. Unfortunately, the whole procedure soon became very dull. I remember tons of vocabulary lists, declensions, and conjugations which I had to learn by heart. So far, Latin has been the only dead language that I had to “learn” by starting from scratch, and excitement soon turned into frustration. Much later, in university, when I had a course on Old Church Slavonic, my Russian language skills helped me. The same applies to Old English, although it was German that helped me out that time, not Modern English, as some might think. Two things saved me in my last two years of Latin. First, we were finally done with the vocabulary lists and got to use dictionaries and second, I was allowed to change Latin from a written subject to an oral subject which means that I did not have to take exams anymore.

Danger sign in Szczecin, Poland
Danger sign in Szczecin, Poland

University marked the beginning of a new period for me. Finally, I was able to focus solely on English studies as well as Russian studies. When I completed my bachelor's degree, I felt like everything went by just too fast and that I would like to go more into depth and broaden my mind. Therefore, I decided to pursue two master's degree at the same time. In terms of languages, I started to study Ukrainian and Latvian, in 2017 and 2018 respectively. My reasons to start studying these two languages were quite mundane: I studied Ukrainian because of a good friend of mine who is Ukrainian and Latvian because I studied in Latvia for half a year to improve my Russian and took advantage of the opportunity to study the official language while living there.


English

 • 10 years in school

 • B.A. in English

 • C2 level (self-assessment)

French

 • 4 years in school

 • dropped to study Russian

 • B1 level

Latin

 • 5 years in school

 • Latinum


Russian

 • 3 years in school

 • B.A. in Russian

 • C1 level

Ukrainian

 • 3 summer schools

 • 1 university course

 • B1 level

Latvian

 • 1 semester in Latvia
  • language course (2 weeks)

 • A2 level