Olga was born in Russia and moved to the U.S. when she was six years old. She is a Slavic and Spanish major at Northwestern University in Chicago and hopes to be a translator.Interviewed on - 12 November 2014
Since I am Russian, I have always wanted to visit my homeland and experience the culture firsthand, but I wanted to visit a place that was more “authentic” and less Western than Moscow. Going to Ryazan was the perfect opportunity for me, and it also gave me valuable teaching experience.
I wanted to go to the “heart” of Russia instead of Moscow and St.Petersburg. This is one of the only programs out there that sends you to a place that is a bit more off the beaten path but still very civilized and safe.
Everything. The outdoor markets with fresh dairy and fruits, the little outdoor piroshki (Russian pies) stands all over town, hiking four miles into the woods and jumping into a lake, taking a cruise down the Oka river, the intimate nature of the city and yet always having something to do (theaters, the circus, restaurants, malls, etc). So many favorites.
There aren't a lot of people so you really get individualized attention. Because of that the program will work with you to fulfill your dreams. For example, I wanted to teach Spanish as well as English, and the program organized that for me.
My hosts were great. They were both really young, so there were a few minor issues because they couldn't really handle every situation, but I also always had the staff at the language school to fall back on, and everyone did such a great job making me feel at home and as one of them.
I had two hosts, so it may have been better if the program had placed me with only one host for the entire month. Moving between households was a bit stressful.
Eat a pastry from an outdoor stand for breakfast, go to the language school, teach at the language school for about five to six hours, go home and spend time with my host, go out with my host or with my friends from the school to the bar/movies/theater, etc.
My host and I went horseback riding once. It was a really incredible experience, and we got to go out even further into the country.
I lived with two hosts, both of whom were 20 years old. It was a really fun and laid-back experience because I could spend a lot of time with my hosts' friends and lived a very active lifestyle.
I became more independent, I came back feeling closer than ever to my roots, I became more adventurous and willing to try new things, I made friends for life, my teaching skills improved, I have memories to last a lifetime.