Paul Shields in Siberia


Paul Shields came to SFU in September 2016 to teach English in the Linguistics Department. On the eve of the New Year, we spoke with him about his work, his life in Siberia, and about the holiday.


Why did you choose SibFU?

After graduating from college, I wanted to work and teach in Russia for a year. I then applied for a scholarship to work and teach English, and I was fortunate enough to be accepted to a program. I was then placed at Siberian Federal University to teach English as a result. In this regard, I consider myself very lucky! Siberian Federal University has a great international reputation and the students are curious, and work hard. My colleagues are also brilliant and they inspire me everyday. I am truly honored to be a visiting teacher this year.

What are some differences between your university back home and ours?

I studied at Stanford University in California where I received a “liberal arts education” which is a very different system that at SibFu. As part of a “liberal education”, I was able to take any class I wanted during the semester. For example, during one semester I took: Political Philosophy, Russian Language, Chinese Economic History, and Music Lessons. This system has pluses and minuses. Although it was fun to explore and learn about different topics, I struggled to develop a mastery of a subject like students at SFU might have.

I can also say that we had less class during the week, but this meant we had to work more outside of class reading and practicing problems.

What are the three most striking things about living in Siberia that you would want to tell your relatives?

First of all, what stood out to me was the natural beauty of Krasnoyarsk. The forests are beautiful and so accessible to the public. I have lived in both Kazan and in Nizhnhiy Novgorod, and I can say that Krasnoyarsk is my favorite of these cities. I am from the Northwest of the United States, and we also have a lot of natural beauty there as well. Forests, rivers, lakes, the ocean. Walking through the woods and along the riverfront reminds me home in many ways.

Second, the weather here is very different from back home. I lived in Seattle and California most of my life where it never snows. Snow has always been a very unique thing for me so I am having a great time.

Finally, the people are very warm and friendly here. Having just moved here, I benefitted countless times from Russian hospitality.

Have you cooked any Russian food yet? Do you like it?

I like Russian food a lot, especially the soup. I am a big fan of Borsht and Shi. I made some Borsht the other night, but whether it tasted good or normal is a whole other matter! I also enjoy shashlik and like to drink Kvass.

What would you hope to see in SibFu’s future?

In the future, I hope that Siberian Federal University will continue to encourage international students to come study here. It’s a wonderful university where international students can learn a lot and its benefits the student population as well. I also hope there will be scholarships and stipends available so that all students have the opportunity to study abroad in a foreign country.

And finally how do you celebrate New Year in America and what are your wishes?

New Years marks the end of the Holiday Season in America. After Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Years is usually a smaller celebration. There are many ways to celebrate News Years in America: at home with family, in public squares, or at events in museums. On television, people watch as thousands of people gather in Times Square in New York to watch the year change. Usually, I prefer to be home with family.

Like most places in the world, Americans think about the past year and have dreams for the future. In this regard, I wish everyone at SFU good health, a good education, and happiness with life’s adventure.

Интервью подготовила Мария Александровна Баженова, преподаватель кафедры лингвистики и межкультурной коммуникации ИФиЯК