Billy Irving (Earth Sciences ‘19) is coming to the end of his fall semester in Russia on the Dickinson-in-Moscow program. In August, before his departure, Billy answered some questions for us about what he expected his life in Moscow to be like. Now we are catching back up with him at the end of his time abroad.
1. What was your most memorable experience?
It’s hard to pick a single most memorable experience, because the whole trip has been pretty much life-changing. However, a really recent experience was going to Georgia with my classmates and the program director, Irina. We saw so many once-in-a-lifetime sights, ate amazing food, and interacted with interesting people. One of the most impactful things about this particular excursion was that it cemented in my mind the fact that the Russian language can connect you to a whole other area of the planet. If you can speak competent Russian you can communicate with a lot of people living in post-Soviet republics. I realized how important of a language Russian is.
2. What was the biggest challenge for you?
My biggest challenge so far has been standing up for myself and talking to strangers. I didn’t really like asking for help from, or talking to strangers in America, but it’s been really necessary sometimes living in a new city, if you don’t know how to do something, or you don’t know where to go. Now I feel comfortable talking to workers and strangers, and sometimes people ask me for directions thinking I’m a Muscovite.
3. What was the most unexpected thing about study abroad?
I think the most unexpected thing for me is how independent I have to be. I was surprised after our first day of class when I was expected to just go home on the metro by myself. It was a bit daunting. But I’ve grown so much, I feel more like an adult than I ever have before.
4. What advice would you give to students considering the Dickinson-in-Moscow program?
I would recommend students to do the program. Ignore anything you’ve ever heard about Moscow. Moscow is an interesting, developed, modern city. Sometimes it’s bohemian, sometimes it’s professional, sometimes it’s distinctly Russian, but it’s always fun and exciting.