Billy Irving is a junior Earth Sciences major who has just begun his fall semester on the Dickinson-in-Moscow program. A few weeks before his departure for Russia, he answered some questions on what he thought his semester abroad might be like.
As you prepare to leave for Russia, what are you most excited and nervous about?
I am most excited to attend the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow and meet students from around the world. I am interested in learning more about Russia in and out of the classroom. I’m excited to eat Russian food and to enjoy city life, and to see amazing art and culture and to just be immersed in Moscow. Additionally, I am extremely excited about the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, it’s an amazing opportunity. (This year, Dickinson-in-Moscow students are traveling to Sochi to attend the World Festival of Youth with thousands of other Russian students.)
I am most nervous about the culture-shock I expect to experience. I’ve heard that Russians still enjoy a more traditional culture, with more traditional gender roles and values. I want to make sure I’m respectful of their culture. I’m also a little bit nervous about dealing with the metro every day. I love trains and subways but I’ve never had to use the subway every day for getting to and from class. I think I will just make sure I always wake up early and give myself plenty of time to get to RSUH.
What do you want to see/do most of all in Moscow?
I really want to go to as many museums and landmarks as I can. I love art and museums and statues and history. I’m specifically interested in visiting Red Square and the Kremlin, maybe even see Lenin’s body. I also love film and I hope I can see many movies in Russian Kinos. Lastly, back home I play in a band with my friends, and I love being involved in the local neighborhood music scene. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go to any shows in Moscow but I would love to if possible.
What do you think will be the most important thing you learn during your semester abroad?
The most important things I hope to learn are about myself. I’ve been overseas before but never for the amount of time that I will be in Moscow for. I’m sure it’s going to be very hard and I’ll probably wish I was home sometimes, but once Christmas Eve comes around, I’ll probably be a stronger and more confident person.
What have you been doing to prepare for your time abroad?
Most of my time preparing has been spent working on my visa, which I’ve had a few complications with. (Billy is being modest here. The visa agency lost all of Billy’s documents weeks before his departure, including his passport!) I’ve also been working through what sort of things I will be bringing, and have purchased some new luggage for the trip. Finally, I’ve purchased and started reading the book “The Master and Margarita” which we’re going to be working with during the semester.
Thank you, Billy! We will check back with you at the end of the semester.