Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Internship Blog - Alyssa Cypher, Post #2

Language Studies While in Graduate School

I'm writing this blog post from my dorm room in Podgorica, Montenegro! Podgorica is a gorgeous city full of contrasts - crumbling socialist Yugoslavia-style architecture against a background of gorgeous mountains. It's very different from Zagreb, Croatia (where I studied three summers ago), which reminded me a lot of Pittsburgh. Podgorica is like no city I've ever been to, and I hope to describe it in more detail once I've been here longer than a week. 

Now that I'm taking a break from my internship to immerse myself in a new culture, I figure this will be a good chance to discuss language study while in graduate school. Trying to fit a language study into your schedule can be a challenge; however, I truly believe language study is worth the extra time and effort. Here are some ways I've made language study easier for myself:

During my first year at GSPIA I was on a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) from the US Department of Education. The FLAS is a government fellowship available in a number of areas and languages. To apply, your university must have a designated National Resource Center (NRC) in your chosen language group. For the 2010-2013 grant period (NRC status is renewed every four years), Pitt had NRCs in Latin American, International, and Russian/East Europe/Eurasian studies. The fellowship pays full tuition plus a sizable living stipend (mine was $18,000) for language and area studies in your chosen language. If Pitt offers a FLAS in a language you are interested in, I highly recommend applying! Applications usually go out around December for the following academic year. 

Summer Study Abroad and the Summer Language Institute!
Studying abroad is a great way to learn or improve your language skills. If you want to focus on language studies, the Summer Language Institute (SLI) is a great time-saving option for learning Russian/East European/near East languages - you can take two semesters-worth of language instruction in 6-8 weeks! These courses are intense (5 hours a day, 5 days a week, 6-8 weeks long), but highly effective and a perfect option for students who cannot fit language study into their academic year course schedule. In addition, SLI offers month-long study abroad language courses in several different cities - I'm currently doing four weeks of intensive Montenegrin (or BCMS) in Podgorica. I also need to note that this is my third summer spent participating in an SLI program - a testimony to the awesomeness of SLI.

Overall language study in graduate school, while not easy, is not as difficult as it seems. The resources are out there if you search for them. Here are links to information about the resources I've talked about - the FLAS ( and SLI (

Until next time!

The view of Podgorica from my dorm