Diana Zamalaeva has been our Overseas Student Assistant for the 2016-2017 academic year. OSAs live in the Russian House, lead Russian language conversation sessions, and are an important part of the Russian Department community. As Diana’s year at Dickinson winds down, she reflects on her time and experiences on campus. Thank you for all your hard work and your enthusiasm, Diana!
Now that there is so little time left in the school year, I can look back at how great my time in America has been! I’ve definitely learned a lot, and have made a ton of friends and memories that I will never forget.
First, America really is an interesting place. The weather is really crazy and you never know what it is going to be, hot or cold! The country has so many beautiful places that I was lucky enough to be able to visit: Philly, Boston (I especially liked Boston), New York, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Ocean City, and DC. Happily, I was able to travel a bunch. I loved the ocean, and seeing snow on the beach was a first in my life. As for the people, I really like Americans. Everyone here is so comfortable expressing their identities and just being who they are. Everyone is so smiley!
At the same time, I thought it was really interesting how it is hard to tell what Americans think about you. I think Americans and Russians are similar in some ways, but we definitely have some different attitudes towards things like money, relationships, and the pace of life! Sometimes it can be hard to get to know people for real here, but I’ve been so happy with all of my friends! In particular, I’d like to give a shout out to all my people in the Russian Department! One of my favorite memories is from the Poetry Night at Russian House, and being able to teach and be in classes with you all has been a joy. The department is like one big family, and I enjoy that feeling of community. All of our professors are so good at what they do, they’re so nice and made me feel at home here! Movie nights were fun and it was cool to see a couple of Russian movies that even I had never seen, so thank you to everyone who showed up so I wouldn’t be bored.
Being able to study at Dickinson was so wonderful, because the style is so different from Russian university! I found it easier to work here, and the teachers and classes are so good! My favorite class was “American Face: Portraiture and Selfie.” It was also really cool to be able to get to know all the other international students, it’s a really close and awesome group of people with really cool stories to share. I think I will really miss the campus atmosphere, student life is really different from in Russia. There is always something to do or somewhere to go, lots of different experiences. I’ll also miss my room and the Russian House. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I will miss the food in the Caf that much.
Someone asked me what I’m excited to go back home and do, and I can say that I’m happy to be going home after so long! I want to see my family and friends, and eat a lot of Russian food (mainly my mom’s cooking, there is nothing better, sorry America). I hope to be back in time for prom and watch my friends defend their senior theses. Next year I will finally get to finish my bachelor’s degree. I’m also really excited to see my three dogs, Musha, Zaya, and Fanya!
Studying abroad is a really significant experience and it has definitely helped me change and grow as a person. People always ask me how they think I’ve changed, and I honestly don’t know! I guess I feel more responsible and independent, living so far away from my family and everything I feel comfortable with. It’s exciting, and I feel like a more capable and interesting person. All the experiences and people I have met here have made their mark on me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!