Anton Ermakov’s love for bookstores only grew stronger when he studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary through the Indiana University (IU) Language Workshop.
“Being able to go into bookstores and speak to people at the cash register and parse through books in Hungarian was really gratifying to me,” he said. “It made me happy when I could have an interaction and people understood me and didn’t have to switch to English.”
As a dual Master’s student pursuing Central Eurasian Studies and Library Science, Ermakov was only a first year student of Hungarian when he studied in Budapest. The fact that he was able to speak Hungarian conversationally in Hungary is a testament to his dedication and to the rigor of the IU Language Workshop.
The Language Workshop, offered through the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, is one of the oldest and most selective programs of its kind in the U.S. The workshop offers students one year of language study in two months, with an optional month abroad. Through a new partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, the Language Workshop has expanded its study abroad programs for summer 2024 to include the Czech Republic, Montenegro, and Poland, in addition to Hungary and Taiwan programs.
The study abroad programs are fully immersive, meaning students will be required to speak only the languages they are learning. Before studying abroad, students will have two options to complete language coursework: either online at IU in eight weeks, or six weeks at the University of Pittsburgh. Students will then spend four weeks abroad, immersed in language and culture while studying and visiting historical sites.
Polish language learners will travel to Krakow to study at the Prolog Language School in the historical center of Krakow and visit top attractions, including Old Town and Jewish Quarter. Students learning Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian will attend the University of Donja Gorica in Podgorica, Montenegro and travel to Cetinje, Lovcen, Petrovac, the ancient Roman settlement of Duklja, and Dubrovnik. Students learning Czech will attend Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic and see historical sites, including the Unesco Cultural Heritage site, Kutná Hora, and the Theresienstadt Museum of the Holocaust.
Students pursuing Hungarian will study at Central European University in Budapest and travel to cultural sites in and around Budapest. Ermakov said these excursions were some of his favorite parts of the program.
“We had class every morning for four hours, and most days we had cultural programming, going to museums, on walking tours, and to the Hungarian State Opera,” he said. “Outside of Budapest, we went to a little town called Szentendre which was home to many Hungarian artists and the site of the Szentendre Artists’ Colony in the early 20th Century. We got to see three or four art museums and that was excellent. Getting exposed to Hungarian art, which is something I didn’t know much about before, was also really great.”
After graduating, Ermakov plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Central Eurasian Studies. Ermakov’s family is from Irkutsk, Russia in Eastern Siberia, and he became interested in researching 20th Century Buddhism in Mongolia and Eastern Siberia. He says he brought home many Hungarian books from Budapest that will help inform his research.
“Hungarian is a useful research language for Mongolian studies,” he explained. “Hungary has a very long tradition of Inner Asian and Central Asian studies, including Mongolia. I’m going to use Hungarian mostly for reading in the future for my dissertation.”
While in Budapest, Ermakov also made a valuable professional connection, Ágnes Birtalan, from Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), a former student of the late IU and ELTE Professor György Kara.
Because of these academic benefits and cultural highlights, Ermakov encourages all students to apply for funding to attend the IU Language Workshop.
“I got a [U.S. Department of State] Title VIII grant that covered almost everything,” he said. “Don’t be daunted by the cost. As a graduate student, I’m on a tight budget, so without the funding, I couldn’t have done it.”
Title VIII grants from the U.S. Department of State are robust, providing tuition, fees, and a stipend for students learning Russian, East European, or Central Asian languages.
Students interested in attending the IU Language Workshop can apply for over $1 million in scholarships available in 2024. These scholarships are available through a variety of sources, including the U.S. Departments of Defense, Education, and State, to incentivize students to gain foreign language skills.
In addition to study abroad programs, the Language Workshop offers on-campus language immersion programs in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, and a myriad of online language programs. The workshop is open to qualified graduates and undergraduates from all universities, high school students, and professionals in all fields. Details and the application for funding can be found at the Language Workshop website. The deadline to apply for funding is February 2, 2024.