With the first semester of the CIEE Moscow International Relations and Business program coming to a close, CIEE is proud of its first set of students, who have had a successful academic semester, garnered valuable professional experience through the CIEE Internship Program, and have immersed themselves in Russian life and culture. As the semester draws to an end, with the bitter sweet excitement of the holiday season and returning home, it is hard for students to say goodbye to Russia’s capital city which has been there home the past 4 months.
Exploring Russia’s History: Guest Lectures, Museum visits, & Cinema Club
The history of Russia is a complex and deep-rooted past, which attracts the attention of many young zealous minds, especially those of our inquisitive students. Students were excited at the opportunity to attend two guest lectures conducted by Maria Pavlova, an expert of the MGIMO Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia. The lectures, entitled “17 Moments of Russian History before the Revolution” and “We Were Born to Make a Dream Come True: the Soviet Period” gave students thought-provoking insight into the highlights of Russia’s timeline.
Ian Rohr (Tulane University ‘17), one of the mainstays of the guest lectures reflects:
“Many MGIMO professors have said that in order to understand Russian foreign policy, you have to understand Russian history. During the semester a guest lecturer spoke to us twice about Russian history. What made these lectures particularly important was that I learned about this history from the Russian perspective. Knowing this perspective has made it easier to understand the reasons why Russian leaders enact their current foreign policy.”
Together with CIEE staff, students visited the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, learning about many of the heroic feats of the Soviet people. Students walked through the museum halls learning about the key battles of the Russian-German front. The CIEE cohort saw pictures and items exposing in depth, the tragedy of that sorrowful period of Russia’s history. Sorrow Hall is especially powerful, and left a lasting-impression on the students: 2,660,000 small metal chains hang from the ceiling of Sorrow Hall, each chain symbolizing 10 Soviet citizens who did not survive the war. Another powerful hall of the Museum of the Great Patriotic War is Glory Hall. More than twelve thousand names of Heroes of the Soviet Union are engraved on its walls.
Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ’15) has visited the museum:
[Left to Right] Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ’15), Trey Reilly (Colorado State University ’15), Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ’16) and Ian Rohr (Tulane University ‘17) in Sorrow Hall (Left) and Glory Hall (Right)
One of the greatest mediums through which to expand your comprehension of foreign culture is film. It gives a deeper insight into the culture during certain periods of time. Most recently, the CIEE Cinema Club viewed the cult movie of the 1990s, Brat (Brother, 1997). The 90s were turbulent times in Russia’s history, and this movie gave particularly poignant insight into what was happening during this decade. After the film screening, students and staff discussed the film’s significance, leading to a thought-provoking discussion on its perspective of reality.
Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ’15):
Student Internships in Moscow
Students enjoyed the opportunity to accrue valuable professional experience through CIEE’s Internship Program. This semester, all interested students attained internships, successfully interning in leading organizations and businesses such as Kommersant, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, the Russian Council on International Affairs, and the World Trade Center. Student responsibilities ranged from conducting analysis in the International Media & Communications Department to editing English publications and conducting scientific analysis of current affairs and events in the Arctic Division of the Russian Council on Internal Affairs. The hands on experience CIEE students received by learning to work in a completely different work-environment helped them to comprehend how business culture varies in the US and in Russia.
Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ’15), double pyschology and Slavic language & literature major, with a minor in history,interned with the Russian Council on Internal Affairs. She reflected:
“The internship portion of this program was an insightful look into the business culture in Russia. No matter what I pursue after graduation, I know this experience will benefit me in all my future endeavors.”
Interning in a Russian company, challenged students linguistically, helping to improve their Russian language skills. Additionally, students acquired a vast amount of professional and communicational skills which will help them in their future professional development.
Visit to the American Embassy
The CIEE Business and International Relations program in Moscow gives students invaluable knowledge on international relations, thus, a visit to the American Embassy was priceless experience for our students. They had a chance to meet Embassy officers and ask about their personal experience in the diplomacy career. It was a great way to acquire professional insight and guidance, which will help students in choosing and pursuing their career paths.
Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15):
“Most of us enrolled in CIEE's International Relations and Business program in Moscow have an interest in pursuing a career in diplomacy, public service, or international business. Whilst in Moscow we had the chance to meet real professionals in these fields through a visit to the city's US Embassy, where we enjoyed a wonderful roundtable discussion with three State Department employees about the pros and cons of a career as Foreign Service Officers - several of whom began their careers in international banking or volunteering abroad. It was a wonderful way to complement our studies, and a great experience.”
Exploring the Russia beyond Moscow
CIEE Travel to Kazan, the Republic of Tatarstan
Russia is well known for not only its tremendous territory, but also for its diverse, multicultural population. As the world’s largest country in terms of territory, this vast land is home to more than 180 ethnic groups. At the end of October, CIEE visited one truly special place in Russia– the heart of the Tatar Republic, Kazan.
Kazan is a diverse city with a high concentration of different cultures, ethnicities (primarily Tatar and Russian), and religions, and is famous for Muslims and Christians living side-by-side in peace. Together with students from the CIEE St. Petersburg Study Center, Moscow students visited many of Kazan’s splendid sights, such as the Qolşärif Mosque located within the Kremlin walls, the Temple of All Religions, and the Raif Holy Virgin Monastery. Visiting a traditional Muslim mosque in Russia, was a unique experience, students appreciated.
Ian Rohr (Tulane University ‘17) shares his experience:
“Kazan, also known as the city where Europe meets Asia, was one of my favorite cities that I visited in Russia due to its long, unique history. It is interesting to see how two great ethnicities—the Russians and the Tatars—have lived in peace and harmony for many centuries. One of the main attractions in Kazan is its Kremlin. Walking through this historic place, I felt like I was in touch with what had happened here.”
[L to R] Emily Bond (‘15) and Kevin Dibb (‘15) with CIEE St. Petersburg students from the University of California, Alexandra Martin (’15), Nick Kristensen (‘16), and Symeon Tsvetkov (’14).
Individual Student Travels: Tula, Volgograd, the Trans-Siberian Railroad
During the Russian national holiday, National Unity Day, which commemorates Moscow’s 1612 victory over Polish occupation forces students took the opportunity to travel throughout Russia.
One of our students, Ian Rohr (Tulane University ’17), traveled 120 miles south of Moscow, to a small town on the Golden Ring, Tula. Tula, not only the birthplace and burial place of prolific Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, is also famous for its delicious gingerbread cookies made with honey & spices, called pryaniki, and for its production of samovars.
Ian Rohr (Tulane University ‘17) with his Russian friends on the Lenin square in Tula
Not many people recognize Volgograd by its modern name, as this place remains memorable under its Soviet name – Stalingrad. This “Hero City” was almost completely destroyed during World War II during the infamous Battle of Stalingrad, yet the Soviet people bravely fought and defended their city, never surrendering. Students who chose to visit Volgograd, found a multitude of memorials and monuments in honor of the people who showed such great courage and bravery protecting their homeland from invaders. The most impressive statue in Volgograd is The Motherland Calls; standing 170 feet tall, it is the tallest statue of a woman in the world.
Trey Reilly (Colorado State University ’15) traveled to Volgograd and visited a Russian family of his friend:
“Having the opportunity to spend several days in Volgograd provided me with the unique opportunity to better realize the extent of the tragedy and bravery of the Battle of Stalingrad. Having dinners and spending time talking about politics and culture with a traditional Russian family — who lived through the Soviet Union and didn’t speak any English — was also one of the most interesting parts of my entire time living in Russia.”
The Trans-Siberian Railway
There is something rather enticing about traveling overnight by train, especially if it is via the longest railroad line in the world. The Trans-Siberian Railway connects the vast expanse of Russia with its steady and consistent infrastructure. In 6 days, you can cover over 5,500 miles traveling from Moscow to Vladivostok. Two adventurous CIEE students embarked on this 6 day journey, stopping in Irkutsk, visiting the deepest and one of the clearest lakes in the world – Lake Baikal.
Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15)and Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15) in front of the Golden Bridge in Vladivostok
Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15) traveled across Russia:
“Riding the fabled Trans-Siberian Railroad has always been a childhood dream of mine, the result of an early obsession with trains and long trips. When I finally learned I would be participating in CIEE's inaugural Moscow program the trip was thus at the top of my list of things to do while living in Russia. It was everything I hoped it would be, and I am so happy to now be able to cross it off my bucket-list."
Watch a video about that trip!
Four months living abroad, far away from friends and family can be difficult, especially during the holidays when it is even easier to miss home. But creating a small piece of home in Russia can truly help! Even though students celebrated Thanksgiving in Russia this year, we were able to create a cozy, homey Thanksgiving. Students conquered the task of preparing the Thanksgiving meal classics by cooking together, and then together, enjoyed the delightful Thanksgiving feast they had prepared.
Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ‘15):
"Thanksgiving at Pasha's apartment was definitely needed, because it offered us the time to reconnect as the trip approached a close. We were all getting busier and busier throughout November, therefore it was nice to catch up on our lives over thanksgiving food." Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ‘15) cooking cranberry sauce
CIEE students and Student Services Coordinator, Pasha Sergeev
MGIMO Choir Performance
On the 6th of December, CIEE students, Thomas Cullen and Ian Rohr performed with the MGIMO choir in one of the most beautiful neo-classical buildings in Moscow, the Tsereteli Gallery, singing the cantata “Alexander Nevsky”.
Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ’16) is one of the students who took part in the event:
"The choir performance was so special for 2 reasons: the first was that we were singing a song called Alexander Nevskiy (who was a very important person in Russian history), the second reason is that it was a culmination of my efforts in all the practices throughout the semester."
Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ’16) and Ian Rohr (Tulane University of Louisiana ’17) with Russian well known conductor, Boris Tarakanov
The semester’s final days are coming!
With the last days of the semester flying by, CIEE students are writing their final papers and projects devoted to relations between Russia and the U.S., international conflicts, the political situation in Russia, and many other topics they have investigated during this semester abroad. Russia is a very pivotal player in the international field, especially these days. Given these pendulous times, to be located within Russia and experience and analyze the current events that are writing history, students are receiving invaluable knowledge, perspective, and insight.
Soon, students will say goodbye to the people who have become close to them these past four months, and return home, knowing their experience studying in Russia has changed them and their lives.
From all of us at CIEE, we wish you a happy holiday season, and hope the New Year brings you a year full of happiness and health, new experiences, and adventure!
Vsego khoroshego (All the Best),
Pasha Sergeev, Student Services Coordinator
Irina Makoveeva, Center Director