Iza Savenkova is returning as a Visiting International Scholar in the Russian Department for the 2019-2020 academic year. Alongside her work at Dickinson, she has also taught Russian at Middlebury College and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. This semester, Prof. Savenkova will be teaching Russian 101, a senior seminar in “Mass Media and Youth Culture,” and her mini-course in phonetics for students of all levels … back by popular demand!
1. You’ve now lived in the US for over a year. What is the biggest cultural difference you’ve noticed? What is the biggest cultural similarity?
I didn’t experience culture shock because American culture has global reach. For instance, in Russia we listen to American music and we love American movies. One specific thing I found interesting is that Americans talk about food and cuisine much more than people in Russia. Before I arrived in the US, I had a misconception about American hospitality. I quickly discovered that hospitality in Russia and the US is very similar and highly valued in both our countries.
2. What is your favorite thing about Carlisle?
My favorite thing about Carlisle is the small-town atmosphere. This was my first experience living in a small town not just in the US, but in my whole life. Everything is so close to where I live and the atmosphere is friendly and cozy.
3. Where is your favorite place in Moscow?
This is a hard question because I have so many favorite places in Moscow. But if I had to choose one, it would be Patriarch Ponds in the Presnensky District. It is a beautiful pond surrounded by adorable cafes, good music, and a calm atmosphere.
4. What is your favorite Russian novel?
Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov. This novel is different from the works of most classical Russian authors like Dostoevsky and Pushkin. I also like Russian poetry, especially the poet Marina Tsvetaeva.
5. What is your favorite Russian food?
My favorite food is everything my mom makes. For instance, she makes an amazing vegetable ragu. She always makes food with fresh ingredient collected from our dacha.
6. What would you say to students considering taking Russian?
I would recommend that they not be afraid and not to listen to people who try to exaggerate its difficulty. The best advice I can give is to be open to exploring the culture, and that will enable you to make friends, talk to people, and discover cultural commonalities.
Welcome back to Dickinson, Iza!