Visitors from a Foreign Land
By Alyssa Rinaldi
When a group of students went walking around campus on March 15, they did not see one familiar face. That is because they were not at their school. Nor were they in their country. They were Russian students in the United States, walking around the campus of Towson University.
On March 14, 2011, a group of students from the Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, traveled to the United States as a part of a study abroad program. "My grandmother is very jealous. She has been to many countries, but she has never traveled to America," said Ann, a Russian student.
The group of 15 students came from Saint Petersburg, Russia, to Towson University for 10 days to study mass communications and experience American culture first hand. The students were a select group. "I have dreamed of visiting America for a very long time," Julia, another of the Russian students, said.
Julia and Ann both came to America looking forward to making new friends, having fun and gaining new knowledge during their time in America and at Towson University. The students are public relations majors at Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University. The major was added about ten years ago and is modeled after the Towson University public relations major.
Julia and Ann were most excited about visiting New York City, including the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. They described their first impressions of America as being much different than they thought. "I expected the college to be like 'American Pie', said Ann.
At home, Ann is a waitress at Kruger, a restaurant in St. Petersburg. She lives by herself in a flat near St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University. Her mother comes to visit her two days during the week to bring her food and to clean her apartment. It is uncommon for people, especially college students, to live alone in St. Petersburg.
During their trip to New York City, the students were able to see the sights that they saw in familiar American television shows and movies. They saw sights like the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. However, the students said that their favorite part of coming to America was visiting the classes at Towson University and meeting the students.
There are many differences between America and Russia, as there are between almost every country. Study abroad opportunities, such as this one, allow students the opportunity to immerse themselves into a different culture.