During their sophomore year, most Russian students begin thinking about study abroad and whether they should plan for the semester of the year. Is my Russian good enough? Will I miss my friends/my family/my significant other too much? Will life in a foreign country be too difficult for me? How will I fit in my suitcase everything I need for a semester or an entire year? These are some of the questions we hear ever year from students as they make their decisions. Below I have compiled thoughts from the class of 2016 on the value of study abroad and the benefits of staying the year, when possible.
Simon Ciccarillo is a double major in Russian and International Studies:
“Students should study for the year because it takes at least the first semester to really feel comfortable academically as well as outside the classroom – whether that be at home, extra-curricular, or in and around the city of Moscow itself. If I had only stayed for a single semester, I would not have been able to see everything I wanted to (I still haven’t) in the city, and build the close connections I have today with my host family, friends, and professors.”
Jason Denaburg is an American Studies major. He was able to take American Studies classes in Moscow together with Russian students (but with a separate final exam at the end):
“I learned two valuable life lessons in Russia. Firstly, it is essential to think and act humbly in order to be successful learning a foreign language and living in a foreign country. Blind confidence and an inflated ego prevent genuine consideration of criticism and the attention to detail necessary to succeed. Secondly, after being a foreigner in a foreign city and university, I learned how important it is to engage – even at the most basic level – with foreign students. Studying abroad is an act of bravery that too often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.”
Jason agrees that the year is better, when possible: “If I had only stayed one semester, I wouldn’t have seen four Russian cities, including Sochi. I also wouldn’t have had the chance to conduct and present research with Russian students at an international conference”
Kevin Doyle spent the fall semester in Moscow and then the spring semester in Kyrgyzstan. His advice for students:
“Take every opportunity that you are given. You never know when a simple trip to the dacha could be the best weekend of study-abroad!.” He continues, “as someone who had to leave early from Moscow due to extenuating circumstances, I really missed deepening the friendships I had started with other Russian students the first semester. I really wish I had had the opportunity to stay.”