I tallied it up, and I spent a total of 26 hours in class this week, approximately 18 of which was spent checking out various classes to see if I wanted to take them this semester. Here is a list of some of my findings.
From World Revolution to Multipolarity: Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia in World Politics (in English.) I really liked this class, but was unfortunately one of a few people who apparently did so: of the six students who showed up, I think at least two (coincidentally, the two other Americans in the class) have already dropped it, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be cancelled, which is a shame, because I was excited to look at world politics from a Russian perspective.
The modern system of human rights protections (in Russian.) I was really excited for this class, given the currents issues of human rights in Russia. Unfortunately, no one else, not even the professor, showed up for this class. I waited outside the classroom for 15 minutes, and then went and checked and found out that it had been cancelled. So I tagged along with a friend to:
The history of Russian social thought from Kievan Rus through the 20th century (in Russian.) Due to a failure in communication, I thought this was going to just be about the history of Kievan Rus (i.e. ancient Russia) so was quite confused by the introduction. Realized that if I want to take a class in Russian, I am going to need to have a basic understanding of the subject at hand before trying to make sense of a lecture. Left the class at the break and went to check out:
Cold War (in English.) Came into this class halfway through, as they were going over the last two pages of the syllabus. Tech problems while trying to skype with the co-Professor in Florida where apparently he was doing something with alligators? Unclear. Don’t know if I’ll be sticking with this class.
The past and future of Russia in current political projects (in Russian.) Learned my lesson and actually read the course description before attending this class, so I was able to make more sense of the lecture. The professor talked very quickly, though, and I learned that I cannot simultaneously take notes and understand what is being said in Russian. After the first hour and a half my brain was fried and my comprehension dwindled during the second half of the class, so I really couldn’t tell you what that was about.
Russian-Jewish literature (Soviet and post-Soviet period) (in Russian.) One of the students who was in the Bard program last semester recommended this professor, who I think was shocked that 6 Americans showed up to the class (along with one Russian student.) He was very patient with all of us, and we learned about the historical context of Jewish life in Russia in the 20th century. Although one of the reasons I want to take classes in Russian is to meet Russian students, I might take this class just because the professor is so nice (and comprehensible.)
Culture and Context: The Leningrad “Underground” of the 1960’s-80’s (in English.) This is taught by a visiting professor from Boston College, and had a surprising (to me) number of Russian students for a class taught in English. We read Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California” and Leonid Aronzon’s “Little skies in the sky” (На небе молодые небеса) in both Russian and English, and discussed them and compared the translations. I think I’ll stick with this class, because it’s an interesting topic that I haven’t seen offered at Wellesley, and it explores a time period in St. Petersburg (and in Russia) that I don’t know that much about.
Acting Class. Theater of William Saroyan (in Russian.) I am still unsure how to describe this class. I signed up for it, because I thought taking a theater class would be fun and would help my spoken Russian. It was, however, a little overwhelming. There was screaming (lots of screaming.) And fake blood. And simulated childbirth. And for a while we were just sitting in the dark and I wasn’t sure why. I just went where people told me to and tried to figure out from what the people around me were doing how I was supposed to act. The professor was very happy to have an exchange student in the class and was very nice to me, but he also yelled a lot (not at me, just in general.) I later found out from a girl who took his class last semester that he’s in a local puppet theater company, and has stared in a bunch of Russian commercials. By the end of the three hours I was utterly confused and exhausted. Naturally, I am keeping this class.
Anyway, I can only take three classes, although I might shop a few more next week. Any thoughts on which ones I should stick with?