Name: Amanda Lawnicki’14
Hometown: Dearborn Heights, Mich.
Where are you studying abroad? Moscow.
What are the three most important things you packed in your suitcase? Why? This one is a little obvious, but my computer. It's incredible how much I use it to stay connected to people back home and even communicating with people here. I can't imagine what study abroad was like before the internet! Second, mechanical pencils. Pencils in general are difficult to find here, and I prefer writing in pencil (I erase things a lot), so I'm glad I took them! And, boots! It's always raining here (or snowing, but thankfully we haven't had much of that yet).
What is the most unexpected thing you have encountered so far during your off-campus study experience? It wasn't necessarily unexpected, but the overnight train from Moscow to St. Petersburg was very interesting. We were in the third class (read: cheapest) cabin. The entire train car is divided into sections of six beds, but there aren't any curtains or anything to separate you. So you end up sleeping next to complete strangers in a "room" filled with complete strangers. The top bunks are incredibly hard to get up on, and the ceiling is too low for you to sit up when you're on them. Also, they serve tea, which practically everyone buys in the morning.
What is your favorite place in your host city/country? It's weird, but I really like the Leningradsky train station at Komsolmol'skaya. They have little places to eat, it's close by, and it's open late at night since the trains come and leave at weird hours. It's great if you like to people watch.
What is the best meal you’ve had abroad? Khachapuri. It's a Georgian cheese bread. You can get the "Mingrelian" version, which even adds more cheese on top. It's like if pizza was more awesome.
What do you miss most from home/Beloit? A stove that's not from the ’50s and an oven that works.
What are you researching for your Cities in Transition project? For my Cities in Transition project I am looking at Park Iskusstv (aka Fallen Monument Park). It's a sculpture park behind the New Tretyakov Art Gallery where old sculptures of old Soviet icons were placed after the fall of the Soviet Union. The site also incorporates modern artwork, hosts events, and even has a small art school on its grounds. Basically I'm interested in how the park was created (with what intention), how the space is being used today, and what political attitudes are being portrayed both by the creators of the park and by its visitors.