In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of CIEE's Moscow Business and International Relations program at MGIMO, we checked in with several program alumni to learn what they've been up to since their time in Moscow and asked them to reflect on their experience.
CIEE Program Term: Fall 2017 & Spring 2018
Home School: George Washington Univeristy
Major: International Relations with a concentration in International Development
Although officially from Hawaii, ask Alina about home and she will pause, reflecting on her roots in both Yakutsk and Korea. An interest in diving deeper into her Russian heritage was one of the reasons she chose to study abroad in Moscow in 2016. Her extended study abroad solidified her interest in international development, and since arriving home she has completed internships in the field, both with the Fulbright Association and Free the Slaves, a non-profit organization working to end human trafficking. She is currently a senior at George Washington University.
How did your study abroad experience help you get where you are today?
My time at MGIMO on the CIEE program made me in control as to how I would utilize the opportunities that were available there. CIEE would provide guidance throughout the entire process, however by studying abroad in Moscow, I was placed in a position that was, in some ways, still outside of my comfort zone. A new environment, a different culture, and a diverse community, I ultimately had to choose for myself as to how I wanted to integrate and to connect with the people around me, whether that was at school, at my internship, or communal experiences, such as volunteer work and local festivities. It created a drive to act on my curiosity and interests, which still sticks with me as I finish my undergrad and start to build my career.
Additionally, being exposed to a foreign country with very contrasting conditions has strengthened my patience, acceptance, and respect for others who come from different backgrounds, which I value as important assets wherever I may go, whatever I may do, or whoever I may meet.
What was your most memorable experience in Moscow?
Extremely difficult to narrow it down, but it must be the friends that I made there. Another one that really stands out was when we unexpectedly rode pony carriages through the snow in an empty field in Suzdal on one of our program trips.
What did you learn about US culture when studying in Moscow?
I am always reminded of this whenever I leave the US, but especially in a place like Moscow, I remember how friendly and approachable US culture is, even between strangers.
What was the most challenging thing for you during your study abroad experience?
It wasn’t necessarily during my time there, but as my study abroad was slowly coming to an end, I didn’t want to leave! I felt like there was still so much more to see, to do, and to explore.