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A journey through cross cultural learning

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I've always wanted to visit Russia.

I wasn't satisfied to read about Russia, I wanted to meet Russian people, to know them, and to visit them in their homeland.

I set about (приступить к чему-либо) trying to find a way to visit the Soviet Union.

It's been over fifteen years since I heard that radio broadcast and I'm finally in Russia. I'm working as a teacher at a university just west of the Ural Mountains in a town that happens to be the home of the AK 47.

So what have I learned during the first six months of my Russian experience? Several people from varying walks of life (люди с разным общественным положением и родом деятельности) have asked me to comment on my impressions of everything Russian from food, shopping, and toilets, to the educational system and the Russian Soul. Several thoughts collide and coalesce (объединяться) on a continuing course of learning and experience.

Russian food.

I love Russian food! I've been a vegetarian for years and avoided the American tendency to "grab a burger" at the nearest, fast-food drive-thru.(through) I do miss pizza parlors. However, the lack of these eating establishments has caused me to spend more time in the kitchen with my Russian friends making our own pizza. I treasure (высоко ценить) cooking and eating with my friends back home, and doing so here has eased (уменьшать, облегчать) the loneliness and the transition to a new environment. Now I look forward to learning how to prepare pelmeni, piroshki, bliny, borsch, and shchce!


Shopping is always an adventure. When I first arrived I was intimidated (наводить страх, пугать) not only by my lack of Russian language skills, but of a different system of weights and measures, different currency (sales tags all written in a different language, of course), the way in which a customer approaches a sales clerk, and the very different attitudes toward "customer service." In the U.S. one goes into a store, picks up whatever he or she wants to buy, gets in line (with the appropriate amount of "personal space" between self and the customers in front and in back of you) to the cashier who rings the items into the register, the customer pays and then is on his/her way out the door. If a customer can't find an item, there are clerks who are encouraged (поощрять) to assist you. American businesses and retailers have sayings such as "Service with a Smile" and «The customer is always right»


Language classes. I tend to get students out of their chairs and on their feet as often as possible. I try to give them "voice,"' get them comfortable with their voice; and bodies, get them to exercise their voice and bodies, and to encourage them to use them effectively in front of a class. There is really nothing revolutionary in this method of teaching, but I did have difficulty in implementing (применять) it during the training period last fall (осень). This difficulty was due, in part, I believe, to the fact that the students simply were not used to getting out of their seats, speaking out improvising, or otherwise being vocal, except when called upon to answer a question that was out of their textbooks. These experiences assisted me in evaluating and reevaluating my teaching style and also awakened me (пробудили во мне интерес) to the differences and to the advantages of a completely different approach to running a class. I certainly would not dispute the way in which language has been taught here. The language proficiency of the teachers and their students is excellent. The results indicate that the system is working.

Perhaps one of the most startling(поразительные) differences I discovered in Russian universities and those in the U.S. is the scheduling procedure. I came from school systems that mapped out (планировать) the entire school calendar, compiled (собранный), posted(вывешенные), and mailed it out to students, staff, and faculty, before the school year started. In this way teachers and students knew which classes were being held at which time and in which room. All the school holidays were listed, so work assignments, days off, and vacations could be planned in advance. Basically, everyone knew where to go and when. So, I was surprised when I arrived here, and sometimes there would be no classroom available. And sometimes there was a school holiday that I didn't know about.

Another paradox.

One of my colleagues here mused (высказал своё мнение) that, "Americans are so impatient!" His previous impression was that we were casual (несерьезный, легкомысленный) and flexible, but when faced without a classroom at a specific time, or given an unexpected holiday, we are simply unable to cope with(справиться с) the change. He's got a point.

The Russian Soul.

I was a guest on a local radio station recently and the radio announcer asked me to comment on the Russian Soul. I had about one second to think about it and another second to reply. As I mentioned earlier, I believe I would be presumptuous (самонадеянный) to try and comment on such profundities(серьёзные вещи). I will say that I amcontinually baffled (приводить в замешательство) by the outwardly cool and distant attitude of many people I meet in a store or on a tram or bus, but who will then drop everything to walk me home or help me in some task I need to accomplish like buying a ticket or going to the post office. And when I’ve been invited into the homes of Russian families whom I've never met before, their generosity, warmth, and hospitality has been as abundant(изобиловать) and overflowing as the food and the drink on the table. I will never forget their kindnesses.

My experiences in Russia have been wonderful and frightening, silly and profound, confusing and enlightening (просвещать), frustrating, and illuminating.(разъяснять, проливать свет на что-л.).

(A fragment from the article “One American in Russia. A journey through cross cultural learning.” by Dyanne Durr, US Peace Corps, 2001.)


Задание 16

В тексте найдите информацию о:

a) the period of time it was written

b) who and what helped the author to survive in Russia

c) what she was intimidated by

d) the most startling differences in Russian universities

e) what the author was continually baffled by


Задание 17

Составьте вопросы WHY-и WHAT- по тексту (не менее 5 вопросов).


-Why do you think the author has always wanted to visit Russia?

-What was her dream?


Задание 18

Подготовьтесь к обсуждению следующих тем:

1. What difficulties might you face being abroad?

2. What might cause a cultural shock? Have you ever had it?



Напишите статью в студенческую газету на тему Advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad”(объем не более 200 слов).



Задание 20

Представьте презентации (примерный список тем):


o Around London,

o Around Great Britain,

o English speaking countries,

o Holidays.

«Studying abroad», «Cross-cultural differences».

Этот сайт поможет вам при составлении презентации по теме «Tourists’ attractions» http://www.britishheritagepass.com/Welcome





List of vocabulary


Nonstop flight

Direct flight

Scheduled flight

Flight attendant

To be behind schedule

To cancel



Check-in desk


To pay extra (excess) luggage

Air-line representative

To check a ticket

To give a boarding card

Passport control

Duty free area

Gate number

To board the plane

To find one’s seat

Hand luggage

Overhead locker

To delay

Departure lounge


To be sick and tired

To change (planes)

Unattended items

Lost and found office




To stay (at a hotel)

To declare

Hall of residence



To be safe and sound


To go ahead

To go by coach/ by train

I’d rather take a train

Bumpy flight

To be a bit sick

Time-table of trains

To miss a train

How much time does it take to get to.....?


To get sea-sick

To occupy a front seat

To take travel pills

To bear in mind


To be within a walking distance

To take the first turning on the right/ left

To go ahead to the traffic lights

To cross the road

To turn left/ right

Road sign



Member of the Students’ Union

To help smb with smth (problems)

To hesitate

To be satisfied with







Sport grounds

Average load

Overseas students

Home / receiving University

To be obliged

Class-hours a week

In this case



To mean

In advance

To be available

To take exams

To pass exam


Unbiased and fair

Within academic tradition




To be prohibited

To have an opportunity



A must

To take pictures





To be packed (with)




Excursions around the country

To arrange

If my memory serves me right

In a fortnight

To far from this place

Places of tourist attractions

To suggest doing

To have a lovely time


River bank

Wear kilts






To be known




To go on a sightseeing tour

Mix of people

To be packed with tourists

Breathtaking scenery

To take a glimpse

To enjoy the views


Verbal structures

I’d rather (not)

I'd better do smth.

I’d prefer to do smth.

To be worth doing

Do you happen to know?

Used to do smth.

To be used to doing smth.

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