Why did you choose to study abroad in St. Petersburg? What were your expectations? Did they match the reality?
I was a history major who had always been interested in the Cold War, so the idea of living in Russia intrigued me. A lot of my friends were studying abroad the same semester in other places around the world, but I liked the idea of going to a place that few Americans had visited. I am not sure I recall my expectations, but I had not traveled much when I arrived, and it helped solidify for me that cities all over the world are similar, even if the language being spoken is different.
How would you describe your life during that semester abroad? How was it different from college life in the US?
I was there in the spring of 2008, and it was definitely one of my favorite semesters of college. I came from living on a campus in Nashville, a city with minimal public transportation, so I truly enjoyed the daily commute from Vasileostrovskaya to Smolny. The 3-minute escalator ride deep into the Metro was different from anything I had experienced, and I enjoyed trying to blend in with the daily commuters.
What is the best/funniest/strangest memory from your study abroad with CIEE?
I believe everyone who ever studied abroad in St. Petersburg had a night of being stuck on the wrong side of the Neva when the bridges were up. I have a strong memory of a mistimed unlicensed cab ride that led to a couple of long hours in the snow on the banks of the Neva. We should have paid closer attention to the bridge schedule we were told to keep in our wallets!
Tell us what you do now! How did/do you use your knowledge and experience of studying abroad in your professional and personal life?
I am an Assistant Executive Director at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports in Tennessee. I specifically oversee all state championships at the middle and high school level, as well as work with the eligibility of student-athletes and serve as the state’s primary contact for the sports of softball, girls' flag football, and Unified sports. While I do not regularly have the opportunity to use any Russian language skills (all basically been forgotten at this point), I do believe that my experience of moving at age 21 to a foreign country where I knew no one gave me confidence, independence, and problem-solving skills that have been important for my career path today as the first woman in my role.