I first came to Yakutsk in 2012. I was already interested back then in learning more about the different minority people groups in Siberia. But first, in order to do that, I had to learn Russian. So I signed up for Russian lessons at the university of Yakutsk. It was hard work, but it was also a lot of fun! Being in immersion is the absolute best way to learn a language. I went to class every day, and I made an effort to meet people and interact outside of class. I also enjoyed attending a lot of cultural activities. In the meantime, I started learning more about the Chukchi people. I made a few close Chukchi friends in Yakutsk and, as a linguist, I decided that I wanted to further study the culture and language of their people. I took some Chukchi lessons in the Department of Northern Philology. Then in 2017 I applied for a scholarship to enroll in the Theory of Language PhD program of the Institute of Modern Languages and International Studies to specialize in the Chukchi language. I was excited when I got the scholarship! It was a three-year program and it was a very valuable experience for me! Time went by very quickly, and before I knew it, I had completed my studies. My classes were interesting and there was a good balance between class time and independent study and research work. One of the highlights of my three years was going to the big annual Lomonosov Conference in Moscow to present an article in April 2019. Also, what I found especially gratifying was working on my research and dissertation. My topic revolved around changes in the use of ergative constructions and alternative constructions over time in the Chukchi language, based on a corpus of short Chukchi folklore texts. I successfully defended my thesis in June 2020 (by Zoom from Montreal, having returned home the previous month because of the COVID pandemic). I will always keep a fond memory of my time living and studying in Yakutsk!
Geneviève Perreault, Graduate of PhD program "Theory of Language" of the Institute of Modern Languages and International Studies, 2020