My Trip to America or the Secret Life of a Russian Student

Authored By:

Ivan P.


My name is Ivan Panin and I’m a junior at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) in Moscow, Russia, where I volunteer with CIEE as a Russian buddy. I spent the past summer in the US and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience, about which I would like to tell you!

Last winter, Bella, my American Buddy, told me about the Russian Language Camp located in Bemidji, Minnesota, and encouraged me to apply for a counselor position, so I gave it a shot. The camp is called Лесное Озеро (‘Forest Lake’ in Russian) and it is a place where American kids who are interested in learning Russian may immerse themselves in the Russian culture. After working at the camp, I had some time to travel around the US and to visit American students who studied abroad at CIEE Moscow in 2017 and 2018 and I would like to share my favorite memories from that trip. 


This was the coolest part of my trip! We don’t have Greek life in Russia - Russian students either live in the dorm or rent an apartment not far from campus. In Orono I had a great chance to meet American students, and to see what life of a typical American college student looks like. My friend and CIEE Moscow Fall 2017 student Brawley showed me around the city, I tried my first bagel there, which for me tasted like a doughnut (I know it doesn’t). Also, Brawley’s family invited me to have lunch with them and we got along very well. I even taught them how to play a Russian card game Дурак (‘Fool’). It was fun to feel a part of this different community, even if it was just for a few days.


While in Boston, I visited Derek – a CIEE Moscow student, who was on a study abroad program in Russia in fall 2017 and spring 2018. Derek’s family kindly allowed me to stay at their home for a few days. The homestay was incredible, as they live in a traditional American house with two floors and a basement, where you could do laundry. American houses look very similar to a foreigner, as they are all built and designed in the same fashion.

Photo for blog post My Trip to America or the Secret Life of a Russian Student

Derek’s family was very welcoming, and they asked me a lot of questions about Russia and Derek’s study abroad experience in Moscow. I was even lucky enough to attend a family get-together, as Derek’s cousin was about to leave for Spain to teach English, and they decided to celebrate as a family one last time.


When I was in Washington, DC I had a great chance to attend a lecture on international law with Alina, my US friend and a CIEE Moscow 2017-2018 Academic Year student, at her university. I would say that American professors are very passionate about their jobs and try to get their students involved in discussions within the class. While studying abroad in Moscow at MGIMO-University, Alina had a chance to visit public lectures by prominent politicians and professors, so it was amazing for me to be able to do the same in the United States.

Checking attendance

I genuinely think this experience made my summer and I really am waiting for new CIEE students to come to Russia and enjoy learning about a new culture just as I did last summer!