Name: Allison Smith’15
Hometown: Arcade, N.Y.
Where are you studying abroad? Vladivostok, Russia
What are the three most important things you packed in your suitcase? Why?
Running shoes. I like to jog along the sea (where they have the few good sidewalks) and I also play sports with my five Russian host brothers. Five minutes from our house there is a stadium where we play soccer and basketball outside most Sunday afternoons.
Russian-English Bible. I have joined a local church and having both translations of the Bible is really helpful for following along and reading during small groups. I also just like to read it on my own.
Long winter coat. Because the city is located by the frozen sea we get a lot of strong cold wind rushing through the city streets. Having a coat that goes almost all the way to my ankles blocks the wind-chill and makes it warmer.
What is the most unexpected thing you have encountered so far during your off-campus study experience?
The most unexpected thing is how quickly the weather changes. One day it is so cold I cannot feel my fingers and the next it is so warm I want to wear shorts. One day it was snowing and the sun was shining at the same time. I was not really sure what to wear.
What did you miss most from home/Beloit?
I cannot say I really miss anything because I try to live in the moment where I am. I do not really think about missing anything because I know I only have a short period of time where I am and I want to enjoy it with the people around while I still can.
What is your favorite place in your host city/country?
The house I live in. It has really become my home and every day I look forward to coming home and talking with one of my five Russian brothers or my host mom or dad. I really enjoy watching Russian television with them in the living room, debating with them at the dinner table in Russian, and playing sports in the house (mom says it’s okay).
What is the best meal you’ve had abroad?
The best meal I have had is the one I prepared for my host family on international women’s day. I made chicken parmesan, with pasta, olive oil, bread, and home-made pasta sauce. It took me three hours to prepare because I cooked for nine people. The most difficult thing was making the sauce because here tomatoes are expensive and it is difficult to find large quantities of canned tomato sauce, which, as I explained to my host family, is not the same as ketchup.
What is the biggest difference between Beloit and your host city/university? Similarity?
The biggest difference is that most Russian students who attend the university dress up every day for class. No one wears backpacks and all girls carry some sort of fashionable purse. Most guys wear button-up shirts with dress shoes and most girls wear high-heels, some of which are at least seven inches. Sweatpants and hoodies are never worn.
The similarity is that all buildings are located close to each other, however my Russian university is very large and contains high school classes as well.
What has been your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?
My proudest moment was watching the U.S./Russian men’s hockey game during the Olympics with my host family. Because of the time zone difference the game did not start until 11:30 p.m., but two of my brothers and my host dad stayed up to watch the game. It was three against one. Needless to say, I was the only one in the house happy with the result that night.
What will you bring home as a souvenir?
I will bring home a collection of seashells and dried crab shells, which are sold on the street throughout the city. They are symbols of the city and its location next to the sea.