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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

I’m sure the first question that pops up is: Why the heck would someone pick Russian as their third language? Well, I did. And I can’t speak for my classmates, so please keep in mind that this is my own experience with the language and its cultures.

Okay, so Russia has always represented a challenge: either as a group of terrorist villains in action movies, the skilled opponent of a sports competitor, or the historical US rival. Prior to selecting Russian as my third language, I had been looking through the history courses, and though American and Puerto Rican history were the obvious choice, I wanted something different and that was when I spotted the History of Russia. I thought: Something new, let’s do this. So, I enrolled and that’s what started it all. 

I made the unfortunate mistake of leaving my third language courses for my fourth year. Anyone who has been in the university for more than three years can attest that mental exhaustion comes in in the second semester of the third year and I chose Russian precisely by that time. 

A friend of mine told me: “You did pick a difficult language.”. He wasn’t wrong, but I did say: “I wasn’t going to take French.” No offense to French lovers, I know you love the language and that there’s beauty to it. I just happen to be someone who has always been attracted to the niche. I was into anime a decade before mainstream finally discovered how awesome it is, and I tend to become interested in topics that would leave my friends confused when I tried to explain. Archetypes in mythology, anyone? 

There is a fact about language learning that I heard, but hadn’t fully understood. When you learn a language, you discover a new culture. I hadn’t realized that it meant that I would identify with it. When I found out the first and second female astronauts were Russian, Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya, I felt a twinge of pride. When Phonk became popular on Tik Tok, I felt proud!

Not to scare you off, but the Russian language is tongue-twisting. Forget the fox jumping over the lazy dog. Try saying a Russian sentence with long words. You have to re-read it once or twice to get the hang of it, and it’s smooth as silk at success. My favorite word is собака(so-bah-ka), meaning dog. 

However, the scariest part about learning Russian is outside of the learning experience. It’s telling people about it. I used to have the “I don’t support the war” feedback ready in the back of my throat every time I told someone new. When I had picked the course and my parents wanted to know my schedule, I was scared of telling them. Of course, they just nodded. Anxiety had given me a red flag. I haven’t been falsely accused of supporting all those atrocities, at least. Although the craziest reaction was when I raised my hand in a literature class, and I said I was learning Russian and the entire class turned their heads towards me. It was a middle school movie vibe all the way. I wasn’t humiliated, but I had said “We don’t support the war” and to this day, I wonder what the hell came to their minds when I said that.

When I had learned the cursive alphabet, I translated my friends’ names into Russian. Then I began translating character names. It wasn’t homework. I had simply been excited about knowing a new way of communicating. Telegram chats with Russian texts had become slightly more understandable, and I recognized the letters with the familiarity one has recognized their favorite actor doing a cameo in a movie. I haven’t dived too deep into Russian music (aside from Phonk), but I’ve enjoyed listening to SHAMAN’s song about being Russian. 

Another thing I’ve learned from studying Russian is that the media has done wrong in associating Russians with being cold. They show love through food as Puerto Ricans do. They see warmth as a blessing, rather than the curse of the sun. They can’t smile in formal photos, but they still smile in family photos. There is more than meets the eye!

So, I suppose this wasn’t the best marketing tactic for the Russian language, but I do love it, despite my strange way of showing it. I hope one day I will be able to read entire novels in Russian, go into Russian-only sites to find new online communities, and sing Russian songs in the shower. And if you are someone who isn’t sure about taking a language due to its stigma or any other limitation you busy your mind into, this is your sign. Just do it, it’s worth it.


Some fun facts about Russian that always leave people shocked: 

  • The Cyrillic Alphabet has y, h, and b. Y sounds like our U. H acts as N. And B is acting like V, and has another letter to represent our familiar B sound. 
  • Russian handwriting is always cursive. And yes, some of the cursive letters look like ours but work differently. 
I am a English Literature student from the University of Puerto Rico. I am a bookworm with tastes that go through fiction, psychology and history. Tik Tok, Twitter and Instagram is where I seek fun and news at the same time. I hope to entertain and educate the readers.