Student Interview: Around the World to Different Russia

15 June, 2015

Hans-Kurt Lübberstedt from St. Gallen, Switzerland, is a student at our St.Petersburg Language center.  Having spent all his life working in computer simulation and seeing the world, Lübberstedt decided to come to Russia to learn the language of Pushkin. 


Where do you live at the moment?

We have been living in Crete, Greece, for two years now.

Where were you living before?

We lived in Hong Kong for 12 years before we moved to Greece.

Why did you decide to learn Russian and why did you choose Russia to do so?

I was very interested in some changes that happened in Russia in the recent years, from the old, communist system to the capitalist system. But I would also like to understand what happened to the people. Did people managed to get through this change, or are they still trying to get through it? How much of the old thinking is still present in Russia? Because I believe that Russia could be a potential key for our future in the world. I believe we do not understand it yet, but that Russia has a different way of thinking, the value system is completely different, and I would like to understand this. You cannot understand a situation without the language, otherwise it’s only on the surface. So when I decided I needed to learn the language, I understood that I could not do it without being inside it, as it would be a very lengthy process. It’s still a long process studying the Russian language in Russia, but it would be a lot harder to do it somewhere else!

So does this have to do with your professional career also?

Not really. I have been working on computer software all my life, I have worked in computer simulation of products like cars and planes to simulate how they work, and this is of course totally not connected to wanting to study the Russian language. So this was not the reason. However I changed my lifestyle completely since we left Hong Kong, I did not continue my professional path and now I am interested in a consulting path. But not business oriented, more life oriented consulting. And in that context, indeed it has to do with it.

What is it that you liked from your stay with Liden & Denz? Anything you would like to share about your stay in Russia?

It has definitely been a good experience. I was positively surprised about the thoroughness of the school, how they do things. I also really liked the level of the teachers. The teachers are professional and experienced. I had different teachers throughout my studies here, which was a very good. I very much like the book the school created. This book is well done and well structured. The second book, which is not done by the school, was not as good. The school should do a second textbook if they can. I talked to Walter about this!

Also the way they go about making sure all school hours are utilized properly, they don’t waste time, they work fast. They do a very good thing: they look at what the student needs, and after the base they customize the lessons accordingly.

We understand that you are leaving Russia soon, but would like to continue studying the language. How will you go about doing this outside Russia?

I don’t know yet, unfortunately. We are going to Odessa, Ukraine, soon. We will spend 2 weeks there with relatives, and then go back to Greece. And in Greece I know somebody who is Russian, and we could organize some conversations in Russian. But the learning part is not clear, so I plan on coming back to Russia. I don’t know if it will be Saint Petersburg or somewhere else, but I will have to come back to Russia.

Could you compare your stay in Russia with your stay in other countries?

We have lived in many countries. Russia is different, of course. Russia has a different quality, it’s interesting. I believe that Russian people have a broader view. On one hand they try to intervene in all sort of things, but on the other hand they are truly interested in how other people are. In other countries this is more of a professional interest. We treat customers with a smile at all times, but here is more real. Sometimes they are not really friendly, but they are interested in understanding more, and understanding better. They know more! An average taxi driver on the road here has a much broader knowledge than an average taxi driver in New York or Hong Kong. You cannot compare!

What is one thing you will not forget about your experience living in Russia for the first time?

It’s difficult to point to a particular event. But I do treasure having had the chance to go to the concert hall every week since I arrived. There is such an enormous choice, and all the choices are very good quality. So everything is done excellently. And I really enjoy Russian music.

What was the easiest and hardest part of the Russian language?

Definitely the grammar is the hardest part. Knowing how to use all 6 cases is quite challenging! And I found it unusual how Russians express themselves, the Russian sayings. As for the easy part, I didn’t even think about that! I guess I could say it was easier than I thought to get in touch with Russians. They don’t easily open up to foreigners, but when I try speaking in Russian to them, they make an effort to understand me, even though my Russian is not that good yet!

I came here with a goal, which was to translate a presentation I already had prepared to Russian language. And unfortunately I did not achieve that goal, not because of the school, but because I needed more time to absorb the language. So I definitely need to come back to finish translating this presentation to Russian!

Do you have a tip for people who are interesting in learning the Russian language?

Try to be very open. That means: don’t assume it’s like in your language or another language you speak. I don’t believe that translation helps, it will never be complete. The same word will be slightly different, or very different! Try to emerge in it and let them explain it to you in Russian. Sometimes translation can be a trap, so you should not depend on it. Of course I still try to translate it to German or English, but many times it doesn’t work!

This post was brought to you by Ana, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz

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