My study abroad experience in the Spring 2020 semester began with a two-week orientation in New York City. My group members quickly took advantage of this time to get to know each other before we flew to Brazil. One student’s interest in Russia prompted me to share much more than I normally would have with a fresh face. At first I was a bit puzzled by her unusual interest in the topic of Russian politics (I later realized she had a crush on me), but this did not stop me from sharing everything I could with my new friend. As we talked, I amazed myself with how much I had to share about Russian religion, politics, culture, and everything in between. I understand now that I should not have been so surprised by my knowledge. I have always assumed that most of what I learned in school would be lost within a few months, but my Russian Area Studies Concentration has proven me wrong. With Russian immigrant grandparents, I came to Villanova with what I thought was a pretty solid Russian background. Unexpectedly, RASCON added the much-needed meat to my skeletal knowledge, while also giving me valuable perspectives I had never considered.
This would not have been possible without the incredible courses and professors that taught them. I will always be grateful for the RASCON faculty members’ diverse experiences. Dr. Schrad’s passion and impressive expertise made Russian politics one of my favorite courses at the University. Father Loya’s unique religious background and perspectives introduced me to aspects of Russian Orthodoxy that I had never known of before. And Dr. Briker’s love for literature and care for his students made his classes something to look forward to every day. I will soon be going to Law School, and the Russian Area Studies Concentration will be of immense value to securing a possible law career with an international orientation. Ultimately, I hope the program will one day bring me to the country that has both frustrated and inspired me in so many ways.