Joseph Galla ’18 reflects on his first three weeks in Russia on the Dickinson-in-Moscow program.
Всём привет ребята!
My name is Joseph Galla. I’m a double major in Russian and International Studies and am currently studying abroad on the Dickinson-in-Moscow program for the 2016-2017 academic year. The main question I typically get is, “Why did you start taking Russian?” I took Spanish for 10 years in high school and decided it was time for a change. When I first got to Dickinson, I actually didn’t plan on studying abroad. I didn’t even plan on majoring in a language, but now I’m here in Moscow for the long haul.
When I first got to Moscow, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been to Russia, and I’ve always grown up in smaller towns and would only visit New York City occasionally. Now that I’ve been here for three weeks, I can say that I like Moscow more than New York: the parks are nicer, there are more trees here than in Manhattan, and obviously the metro system is just leagues ahead of the NYC subway. I also didn’t expect the metro system to be as easy to use as it is. I’m one of those people who worries over everything (no seriously…everything!) and I was nervous I’d get lost in the metro. As long as you have the ability to read Russian to any degree, a map of the metro, and know which station you need to get to, you’ll be fine. The metro system is incredibly intuitive and really simple to navigate.
I won’t lie: the first couple days here were hard. I didn’t know where I was going and my bodily schedule was all thrown off. However, once you get used to your new schedule, you’ll adjust to life here easily. Probably the best advice I can give you is to make friends with the OSAs and with your Skype partners. While it’s good to have friends in your Dickinson group, it’s even better to have Russian friends here who already know the city and speak the language. You can always ask them for help—whether you need help finding your way around the city or getting recommendations for good places to eat.
I’ve only been here for a few weeks but I can already tell that it was a good decision to stay the whole year. I can already feel that my speaking ability is getting better, both because I need to speak Russian all the time and because living in Moscow is a much more in-depth cultural experience than any class I could take at Dickinson.
I’m happy to answer any questions you have. You can reach me on Dickinson email or on Facebook.