In the past academic year, these classes were attended by about 200 students with the most varied motivations, there are always cases of dating and “mixed couples” in which one seeks to learn the language and culture of the other, the director of the Center for Culture and Slavic Languages at the Faculty of Letters, Gueorgui Nenov Hristovsky.
There are also those who go for the fascination of a different culture, for the curiosity of a different alphabet (Cyrillic), because they have already visited the country and would like to deepen their knowledge of the region, for professional reasons or because they intend to do Erasmus in one of these countries where they sometimes it is easier to get a scholarship.
With Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union in 2007, Cyrillic became the EU’s third official alphabet, in addition to Latin and Greek.
“There are cases of fascination with studying these languages that were not studied at school. We also have people who are already retired and want to keep their heads active, “the official told Lusa, revealing:” I have already met people who collect languages, have made several languages ”.
Enrollments should have ended on October 9th, but this year the processes are “very late”, so it was decided to extend the deadline. The data are not yet closed, but it is already possible to notice “a small drop in students”, due to the pandemic of covid-19, according to the professor, of Bulgarian origin.
The attendance is free because “the embassies do not want culture to pay for themselves”, explained Gueorgui Nenov Hristovsky, referring that only a 20 euros registration fee is charged.
The complete course lasts for most degrees (3 years), with the exception of the Russian, which has two more levels, created with the communities of this country and Ukraine in Portugal in mind: “Many of them grew up here, speak the language, but never had the opportunity to learn to write well. In class, texts by Russian authors are read, it is different from talking to parents ”. History and culture are also taught, in the most varied aspects.
Russian classes are the most sought after, not only because Russia is “the largest Slavic country in the world”, but for “historical reasons” and also because in Ukraine “a large part of the population is Russian”, said the professor.
“Russian has many speakers. There are many Russian and Ukrainian speakers here in Portugal ”, he stressed. Students who are already fluent in the language can take only the last levels. The Ukrainian community in Portugal amounted, in 2018, to 29,218 people, according to official statistics published on the embassy page, which counts legalized citizens.
Eastern European countries are also widely visited today, which contributes to the interest aroused in recent years. Conversely, the largest number of tourists from these countries in Portugal last year came from Poland (277,616), according to data from INE concerning guests in tourist establishments. The Russians (186,911) and the Czechs (63,591) followed.
Then there are those who are interested in specific topics, such as war and religion and even gastronomy.
“They are very rich cultures. In addition to poetry nights and gatherings, we also had music meetings – although it was difficult to find indigenous musicians in Portugal – and tasting of food, snacks and drinks, a glass of wine or vodka ”, added Nenov, lamenting that with the pandemic activities now have to be limited.
“We were the most active center of the college in these activities,” he said.
The University of Lisbon claims to be the only one in Portugal to offer these free semester courses, which can be attended by internal (from other courses) and external students.
The environment is multicultural, with students and teachers from different backgrounds: “Sometimes we have a Polish person who comes to study Czech or a Russian who comes to study Bulgarian,” he said.
In an interview with Lusa, Gueorgui Nenov pointed out that most of Europe speaks these languages. “Balkan culture is very old. It has very interesting traditions, even at the level of folklore, music. These are countries that have a lot to offer students, in terms of literature, art, songs. A lot of people come for culture ”, he admitted.
Bulgaria, where it comes from, is “the third country in Europe where there are more historical discoveries, after Greece and Italy”, he maintained, recalling the Thracian culture, which in the 5th century BC spread through various regions between the northern Greece and southern Russia.
The influence of the Thracians, divided by various groups and tribes, made Herodotus define them as “the second most numerous people in the known world and potentially the most powerful, if it were not for their disunity”.
AH // ZO
The University of Lisbon content extends enrollment in Slavic Languages with free attendance appears first in Visão.