Austin Mancey, Peer Advisor
I have found that the cultures I lived in, the cuisine I consumed, the landscapes I stood on, and the people I met in the last year can only be found one way: by taking a leap of courage and diving straight into the daunting unfamiliarity of a new country. I was blessed by the opportunity to spend six months in Krasnodar, Russia, where life was flipped upside down, but still somehow completely normal and full of everything I needed to thrive. I showed up with the awkward barrier of language, and was intimidated to even say “thank you” at Papa Johns. But after only couple weeks I had overcome the fear of embarrassment of speaking incorrectly, and was continuously encouraged by my native friends to keep trying.
The university where I studied was different than Colorado State in most every way. From grading to schedules, student groups to education facilities, everything seemed different and needed to be adjusted to. My class in Russian Language was comprised of four students, which allowed our teacher, who was determined that I succeed, to give us special attention and teach in a way compatible to our learning ability. By the time I left Krasnodar I was conversational in a second language, one of the most rewarding feelings of my time in Russia.
I loved learning about the people of Russia and how they interact, how they behave, how they honor each other, and care for one another. Grandmas in Russian are called “babushkas” and they roam the city selling goods and telling younger ones like myself how to act. Most of the times grandmas yelled me at I had no idea what they were saying. I loved it! But they often told us to wear warm clothing and take care of ourselves; they didn’t know us, but they cared for us.
The most incredible part of both my semesters abroad is the people who became my best friends. There are too many perspectives to be heard, burdens to share, and problems to fix together to stay at home and reject the possibility to learn about this world! The friends I met took me in as family and shared their culture with me to the point that I did not know possible. I shared hundreds of years old foods with parents and used the language I learned to communicate with them through dinner to hear stories of culture through the Soviet times. I found pure joy experiencing history from personal sources and I know there is more to be discovered around the world. That is why I left and encourage anyone to do the same!