Saturday, May 19, 2007


I made it safely back from Russia the day before yesterday (the jet-lag is killing me). When I got off the plane in the US, I realized how accustomed I had grown to life in Russia and everything seemed a slight bit foreign here.
I knew that I would miss Russia... and sure enough, within my first 12 hours back in the US, I was looking online for jobs in Russia. I cannot wait to return.
Everything about Russia I enjoy: The people, the culture, and increasingly the language.
Russian language (at least for me) is not terribly fun while at the lower levels. It sucks to make so many errors that nobody knows what you are saying. It is also a bummer when your vocab doesn't allow you to express what would otherwise be simple tasks in English. This part of the process is/was tremendously frustrating... Though persevere! It can only get better!
This summer I will finish my dual BA in Russian Studies and Government & International Politics.
I consider this past year as the most formidable in my life. My views on everything (e.g. politics, religion, life, ethics, etc) have been altered. I examine things in a much different light today than I would have a year ago.
I had read about life in Russia and Russians' view of life for years before going to Russia. None of it made as much sense until I lived among the Russians.
During my time in Russia, I sought to better understand the Russians through (here is application of my minor in sociology) "participatory observation" (i.e. "a set of research strategies which aim to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such as a religious, occupational, or subcultural group, or a particular community) and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their natural environment, often though not always over an extended period of time".)*
I sought to avoid all things American and western if a Russian alternative was available. I only hung-out with Americans a few times a month. I strove to look at any difficulty or obstacle in a way that a Russian would.
In the end, I feel that I took the right approach.
* Quote from Wikipedia

I will post one more blog when I find out my OPI score and the grades for my classes.

Thank you readers for sticking with me during my year in Russia! It was an incredible experience! Thank you to all of you that have written me letters or e-mails during the past year!!! It has meant a lot to me!
Please feel free to contact me ( with any questions that you may have about Russian (studies/study abroad/etc) or anything else.
I am delighted by how many readers have added me as a "friend" on facebook! Please add me as a friend! It is exciting to see what sorts of folks read my blog!
Thank you for bearing through the many (many, many) grammatical and spelling errors that I routinely made in the past 9 months. (I know that it is now abundantly clear that I don't distinguish between: their, they're and there, nor its or it's, nor e.g. or i.e., etc).
In my own defense, I was typing as fast as I could in order to save money at the Internet cafe... And lack of proof-reading can be detrimental to sound writing!

Russia (like most experiences) was great because of the people that I knew. Without them it would have been a wholly different experience.
Thank you to the Russian speakers I have know and have encouraged my love of their language. And to all of you who have written me: Thank you! Спасибо!


Maja said...

Hi Jason! After all it must be good to be back home. It's been a pleasure reading your blog. If you want to study more foreign languages (some very useless) let me know. I've got one very diffifult and useless for you. From up here I say "takk fyrir" (thank your) to let me follow your time in russia. It's been interesting and fun. Best wishes to all of my Smart's


Jason Smart said...

Thanks Maja!
I heard that Icelandic is one of the most difficult languages... I really don't wish to find out :-)
If everyone there speaks English as well as you do, I will be fine! :-)
Thanks for reading my blog and for writing!
Take care,
Jason Smart

Anonymous said...

Great blog Jason! You have made a great contribution to my better understanding the Russians!
Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see your interest in our coutry. I enjoyed reading your blog. Actually, I posted some thoughts about Russian "peculiarities" on my blog. You're welcome to check it out!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Russian Jobs said...

Hi Jason,

I love reading about life in Vladimir. I spent 3 years in Moscow, then went to GMU for a master's in teaching. I'm with you--the right program can really set you up for finding work in the US! There are all kinds of job boards and companies offering jobs for people who know Russian. I have never had any trouble finding employment--mainly due to my language skills!

Trevor said...

Wow, great post. Reminds me greatly of the time I sepnt living abroad in Russia.