Speaking with a student ambassador is a great way to get a previous student’s perspective on the Language Schools experience.

If you would like to connect with a student ambassador to ask questions, please contact Oliver Carling, School of Russian Assistant Director, at schoolofrussian@middlebury.edu.  

Russian student Jess Combs

Jess Combs

Hometown: Vitoria-Gasteiz, Alva, Spain
Program: 8-week Immersion
Current: Freelance Translator

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I was most surprised that I was able to speak with students in higher levels than mine. All levels focused on the same general topics, so even as a level four student I was able to listen to and participate in conversations with level seven students. I was also surprised to not be the only 30 something in the program.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

The Middlebury Language Schools are well-known and well-respected in the translation industry. I also knew there was no other way to improve so much in such a short period of time.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

My language skills improved immensely thanks to my studies at Middlebury. When I got back from the program my online Russian teacher was stunned at how well I was able to express myself and pleased that she was able to speak to me much more naturally. I plan on continuing those online classes until I feel confident enough to sign up for the UN translation exam. My goal is to pass the exam by 2021.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Russian?

It's a lot of work, but it's also really fun! There are activities available to suit all interests.

Russian student Jakob Lengacher

Jakob Lengacher

Hometown: El Cerrito, California
Program: 8-week Immersion
Current: Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I was surprised at how highly I placed and how quickly I felt comfortable at that level.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I chose Middlebury Language Schools because I needed to bring my Russian to a level usable in graduate school.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

My language skills took a leap I would not have imagined possible. I am now comfortable conversing in Russian, reading news, and discussing higher level topics. I am continuing to use Russian in graduate school in my work and in class, and am finding great joy in my new abilities.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Russian?

The experience will be hard and trying, and while it is important to put yourself first and not get caught up in the whirlwind, you get what you put into it. Requests for help will always be answered, and a good group of friends is important. 

Russian student Nikki Lohr

Nikki Lohr

Hometown: New York, New York
Program: 8-week Immersion
Current: Tutor/Substitute, St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's School; Gallery Attendant, Dia: Chelsea

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I was surprised by the students. In college, you meet students who are there for a thousand different reasons and many who aren't there just for the classes. But at Middlebury, everyone is really excited about learning. In many ways, this is not surprising considering the pledge. But the extent to which this was true did surprise me. There was a pure, unfiltered love of learning that enveloped the campus during the summer, and it was thrilling.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I applied to Middlebury because of the pledge. I thought the pledge would attract serious language learners and create an exciting intellectual environment. Both proved to be true!

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

After Middlebury, I received a Platzman Fellowship from the University of Chicago. The grant allows young scholars and professors to do research in the UChicago Special Collections archives. My topic is on how the CIA used abstract art during the Cold War as a form of anti-Soviet propaganda. Some of the sources in the archives are in Russian and I was able to read them -- something I couldn't do when I visited the archives a year ago. Language progress is often hard to feel since the change is gradual, like any kind of growing. But when you can see your progress like I did in the archives, then the work is more than worth it.

What advice would you give someone wanting to attend the School of Russian?

I would just emphasize how impressive the professors and TAs are. They are superb educators, and they are the main reason -- even more than the language pledge -- for all the progress that Middlebury students see in just 8 weeks.

Russian student Andrew Postovoit

Andrew Postovoit

Hometown: Wiesbaden, Germany
Program: 8-week Immersion
Current: Army Officer

What surprised you about your experience at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I was surprised by how many clubs, guest speakers, and activities after class were available.

Why did you choose to study at the Middlebury Language Schools?

I wanted to study at Middlebury because of the School of Russian's outstanding reputation. I had plateaued in Russian and wanted an intense fully immersive experience to break out to the next level.

Please describe how your language skills improved due to your studies at Middlebury.

Middlebury really increased my confidence in speaking. I also learned about several very helpful resources and how to use them. I still regularly refer to the sources that I encountered at Middlebury.