Luka is a Serbian law student who plans to pursue a Master’s degree at St Petersburg University (SPbU). He enrolled in the Preparatory Russian Language course at SPbU. Due to the pandemic, Luca’s study lessons now conducted entirely online, but it doesn’t stop him from learning good fluency in Russian within just one semester.
Similarly, SPBU’s student Luka Stevanovich shares his experiences, future aspirations, and thoughts of the Russian educational system with us.
Why did you decide to pursue your education in Russia?
As a lawyer, I always thought of my job as one that is both fascinating and demanding. Interesting because of the diverse personalities we encounter on a daily basis. And difficult because we must continually pursue unique knowledge in order to offer innovative solutions to our client’s difficulties. While at the same time adhering to our profession’s strict ethical guidelines.
After finishing my two-year obligatory internship in Serbia, I applied to Russia to study master’s degree in order to advance my knowledge. Russia was my pick because of its well-developed industry. And even trade ties with both eastern and western countries. It’s an excellent way to gain insight into the legal procedure in some fields of law that don’t exist in many other nations, or where the practice isn’t as mature as it does in Russia.
Why you choose Preparatory Program at St Petersburg University (SPbU) and how did you know about it?
St Petersburg University (SPbU) is my first choice for master’s studies. My sole decision of choosing the preparatory course there as well comes from my Russian language professor at home He had visited St Petersburg University many times and returned with glowing reports.
What did you expect to get out of the course?
I previously spent two years in my hometown studying Russian. My concern was that the course will not be difficult for me to improve my Russian enough to study for a master’s program taught in Russian. I expected that the program is more focused on learning to talk in Russian in daily situations. And rather than on preparing for professional use of Russian. My friends had a similar encounter with several other preparatory classes. The fact that my course was set to begin in an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This just added my worries, as I will have to adjust to a new learning process.
So, now that you’ve spent your first semester learning Russian, how do you feel about it?
I passed the TORFL-1 exam just a month before beginning the course. Despite the fact that I expected to study for the next two years in my hometown. In contrast to my expectations, I am very happy to see the result very fast. Thanks to my SPbU’s professor.
Did COVID affect your educational plans in some way?
Yes. Unfortunately, the most significant difference for me though is that I have yet to leave my home to study in Russia. While air travel between the two countries is recently resumed, I should remain in Serbia for the time being, at least for the holidays. Aside from that, I am confident that I’ll be able to finish the task in a timely manner.
What role is the University playing in the preparation for your travel to Russia?
I don’t anticipate any difficulties in integrating into the region. So far, my interactions with university personnel have been linked to concerns about the student visa, and their responses have aided me in the process.
Does the course evoke a sense of what you would be able to do in the future? What are your future plans?
We’ve discussed what master’s studies will bring for us. So this gives me a lot of information about my future for the time being. I need to stay focused on learning the language right now. I have some dreams for when I complete my master’s degree. However, I believe I am underestimating the significance of this chance to study at SPbU. And it’s possible that it’ll take my future in a very different direction than I’m anticipating right now.
Could you please compare the Russian and Serbian educational systems? What are some of the benefits of studying in Russia?
We are expected to understand a lot of unimportant course material in Serbia from the beginning of our education. Many students may have similar feelings about their country’s education system. However, this issue is more common in Serbia than elsewhere. That, I believe, is the most significant difference between Serbian education and that of all other nations, including Russia. As a result, our high school graduates are often unprepared to apply their skills in the real world. That does not seem to be the case for Russian high school graduates, which is a distinct advantage.
Even, from my perspective, the number of master’s programs available is a significant benefit of completing master’s studies in Russia. The curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in law at my home faculty is somewhat similar to that at St Petersburg University (SPbU). For a master’s degree, however, SPbU, for example, proposes a more innovative program.
Have you ever visited Russia? What was your first reaction?
I travelled from Belgrade, Serbia, to Samara, Russia, in November 2018. In Moscow, I had a layover. The weather in Belgrade was remarkably mild and sunny for November (+15°C), while the weather in Moscow was about –15°C and there was no sun at the time during my flight. In Samara, I expected better weather, or at least anything different from Moscow. I got on the plane to Samara and slept as it was taking too long to take off. I awoke to the same weather and environment as before; we were still at the airport, but we were going. When I asked if we’ll be taking off shortly, the flight attendant replied that we’ve already arrived at Samara airport. I slept the whole journey and was unaware that we had landed in similar weather conditions.
Is there anything you’d like to say to future applicants?
My advice to students who, like me, want to learn Russian needs to watch as many Russian TV and films as possible, as well as listen to Russian music and radio. That may enable the student to naturally understand complex grammar phrases before learning the specific grammar rules that underpin such phrases (and exceptions to those rules).