Time Abroad: Fall 2007
Major: International Studies and Russian
My most memorable experience while studying abroad was not any particular event or day; instead, I feel that the process itself and what I will take with me represent the most impressive experiences. While certain experiences (first arriving in St. Petersburg, my first visit to Hermitage museum, meeting my host family, spending fall break with my fellow American students on a cruise down the Volga River, my trip to Moscow, etc.) are all unforgettable in their own right, what I learned over time in St. Petersburg makes the greatest impression on me.
My Russian skills greatly improved. All my classes in the ACTR program were conducted in Russian: four Russian language classes and a Russian politics class. On top of this, the program set aside one day each week for "excursions" around the city, all of which were in Russian. Living with a Russian family helped develop a different area of my Russian skills. Not only did this immersion into Russia improve my language ability, I also gained a deep appreciation of and love for Russian culture, from the St. Petersburg football team (soccer for us Americans) that won the Russian league championship, to the beauty of Russian art and theater.
More than anything else, my newfound awareness of the significance of perspective will stay with me through the rest of my studies at DU and beyond. Many aspects of our society in America that seem natural, such as the ease and efficiency of life, end up becoming an object of thought after experiencing a different society. I also found myself obsessed with analyzing the way that America views the world. I strongly believe that an over-simplistic, naïve, and undeservedly negative perception of Russia exists here in America, reinforced by our political climate and our media. In my opinion, these sorts of "outside perspectives" can only be attained through an experience such as study abroad.