Student Snapshot: Andrew Cummings ’24
Clubs and organizations:
Russian Club, French Club, Alpha Lambda Delta honor society and Multilingual Writing Center (tutor).
Dean’s List, Selma K. Asbell Scholarship, James F. Swift Scholarship and Saint Petersburg University Olympiad of Russian (first place).
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Best thing about my Dickinson experience so far:
By far the best thing about my Dickinson experience so far has been that I have had the opportunity to study abroad three times already. Last year, I participated in a three-week GIS program in Toulouse, France. Last fall, I studied abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, through a Dickinson partner program. For the spring 2023 semester, I returned to Toulouse with the Dickinson-in-France program. All of this would not have been possible without the support and guidance of my peers, professors and advisors, and of the staff at Dickinson’s Center for Global Study & Engagement, who have made my experience at Dickinson even more enjoyable. It’s such a good feeling when you’re able to get your point across effectively in a foreign language and are able to navigate on your own and help others.
Best thing about my major:
I really enjoy how both of my majors encompass so many different aspects of their respective geographic areas—history, literature, politics and culture, to name a few—in order for me to formulate a rigorous and in-depth study of the French and Russian spheres of life. In short, both of my majors are so much more than just the language. Particularly with my Russian major, we also cover life and culture in Eastern Europe as a whole, which I believe is an extremely important and crucial topic to study nowadays, given the current situation in that part of the world.
On choosing Dickinson:
Coming from a small, public high school in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania with a graduating class of 50 students, I knew that I wanted a school that was relatively small and had a strong sense of community. Likewise, Dickinson’s small class sizes appealed to me, knowing that I would get more personalized attention, rather than being just a number. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I chose to attend Dickinson was because of its nationally recognized prestige in overall quality of education, along with its emphasis on global education and its top study abroad programs around the world, which I knew coming into college was something that I definitely wanted do. Combining all of these factors, along with a beautiful campus that’s only a two-hour drive from home, made Dickinson the perfect fit for me.
Favorite place on campus:
The Waidner-Spahr Library.
I couldn’t choose one professor that I could say is my favorite, because all of the professors that I’ve had, both on campus and abroad, have been phenomenal and have taught me a lot. However, my academic advisors, Associate Professor of French Dominique Laurent and Associate Professor of Russian Elena Duzs, have gone above and beyond, both inside and outside the classroom, in order for me to learn more about their respective fields and succeed throughout my college career.
As I kid, I wanted to be …
… a teacher.
On studying abroad:
As I said earlier, I have studied abroad in both Toulouse, France, and Prague, Czech Republic. In Toulouse, I would say that the highlight of my experience was just being able to adjust to the French way of life in a relatively short span, given that it was my first time living on my own in a foreign country. Things such as using public transport on a daily basis, speaking exclusively in French, grocery shopping on my own, exploring the city by foot and traveling around southern France all made my three weeks there a truly incredible experience that I won’t soon forget. In Prague, I learned the Czech language from scratch, but the main highlight was my time volunteering at a local high school on a weekly basis, giving English speaking practice to Czech high schoolers. Interacting with them by sharing my American culture and learning about their Czech culture was extremely rewarding. Apart from this, I have had the chance to travel around the beautiful Czech countryside and also to the less-visited countries of Central Europe,
When I studied in Toulouse, I enjoyed transitioning into the French university system and truly being immersed into the culture. I lived with a host family here, and being able to speak French 24/7 really improved my overall proficiency in the language, and helped me adapt to a totally new environment and routine. On top of all of this, I gained more independence and confidence during my travels around southern France, which allowed me to visit incredible places that most people would not get the chance to visit, such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
“Studying abroad really is life-changing, and it will undoubtedly alter your perspective on others and how you see the world.”
Proudest accomplishment so far:
I’m proud of myself for being successful in taking classes in two foreign languages at the same time, maintaining an advanced level of French, while bringing my Russian level to intermediate just in the past couple of years (as well as beginning Czech this semester). Tying this together, I am proud of myself for having put my language skills to use during my time abroad and not being afraid to make mistakes. It’s such a good feeling when you are able to get your point across effectively in a foreign language and are able to navigate on your own and help others.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
I’ve learned that it’s important to live in the present and cherish the moments that are happening in front of you, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past all of the time. You’ll never get those moments back, so take advantage of everything that life has to offer you now. Step out of your comfort zone, never have regrets, and do the things that make you happy.
Advice for students considering study abroad:
Although it may sound cliché, studying abroad really is life-changing, and it will undoubtedly alter your perspective on others and how you see the world. Sure, you’ll likely be homesick and jet-lagged when you arrive at your new destination, and you’ll question whether you’ve made the right decision, but all of this is only temporary and a totally natural part of reacting to drastic change. As you begin to meet new people, explore your new city, travel to other places and begin your classes, your new environment will start to feel more familiar, and you’ll soon forget about your initial worries. After your time abroad, you’ll have countless photos, souvenirs and stories to share with your family and friends. These memories will last a lifetime. So take full advantage of any of the excellent study-abroad programs that Dickinson has to offer, as you’ll never get the opportunity to have quite the same experience again.