CIEE program: Fall 2016; Spring 2017
Home School: University of California, Merced
Major: Cognitive science
Matthew Schwimmer arrived to St. Petersburg in 2016 with no prior knowledge of Russian and with a great interest in the country’s different regions and territories, He was what some would call a non-traditional student, as he was older than most of his peers. After having graduated cum laude from the University of California in 2017, he completed his MBA from San Diego State University. He received a Fulbright grant to carry out his thesis research in Azerbaijan, in which he analyzed business viability for the Baku market.
When asked to share some of the strongest memories from his time in Russia, Matthew wrote, “My strongest memory of Russia was the time spent with my host family. In fact, all of the people I met in Russia were incredibly hospitable and everyone there made me feel incredibly welcome.”
One of the outcomes of his study abroad in Russia was his strong interest to the former USSR and Warsaw Pact area. Matthew says, “My recently departed father visited western Europe in the late 60s, and I’ve thought about the fact that he didn’t have the opportunity to visit the countries which I did. In those days, the most famous person to go to Minsk was Lee Harvey Oswald. Now, I’ve made a career out of going to the former USSR. I’ve been to Prague, Tbilisi, Minsk, Kiev, several cities in Russia, and I've even visited my ancestral homeland of Budapest, Hungary. Covid-19 has been an obstacle, but not an insurmountable one. A large part of the reason I came to Russia was because of the stereotypes I’ve seen in media. I wanted to observe the truth for myself, and I did. I hope that we can all learn to look past stereotypes and see the humanity in each other’s eyes. I look forward to making my father proud and becoming proof that Washington DC and Moscow needn’t be enemies.” Matthew is currently a freelance Business Consultant with a specialization in Management and International Business.