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Matryoshka Dolls

Get to know some of our students from prior study-abroad cohorts.

Studies in Moscow

Sight SeeingIn summer 2010, Cohort 2 in CSUN's Strategic Language Initiative made their trip to Moscow. While studying advanced grammar and conversation at the Russian State University for the Humanities, the students were delighted to immerse themselves in the language in its modern context through their daily city living. At RSUH they also studied Russian civilization, with cultural excursions in Moscow and St. Petersburg augmenting their understanding of the nation's development. Through lectures, seminars, and round-table discussions with experts in such fields as business, industry, and education, our students gained a well-rounded perspective of Russia and Russian life.

Final Projects

Orthodox Church Upon returning from Moscow, the students of Cohort 2 completed their final research projects and presented their work, in Russian, to their peers, instructors, and invited guests. Their topics included:

Cohort 2 Students

Carson BergCarson Berg

I am currently a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara, where I am pursuing a BA in Slavic languages and literatures. I first became interested in learning Russian when I was 16, after spending a summer in Tbilisi, Georgia. Upon entering UCSB I began taking elementary Russian classes and later decided to become a Russian major after studying abroad for four months at the Moscow International University. The SLI program has been a wonderful way for me to improve my knowledge of the Russian language and gain insight into Russian cultural traditions, history, art, and politics. I hope that one day my fluency in Russian will enable me to pursue a career in international business or diplomacy.

Marina CrissmanMarina Crissman

I first became interested in the culture and history of Russia when we studied it in my high school world history class. My conversion to the Eastern Orthodox faith four years ago rekindled these interests as I learned about the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church and its role in the country’s history. I took my first Russian language class in spring 2007 at Los Angeles City College, but I was unable to attend classes the following semester. I resumed my study of the language in spring 2008 at Pasadena City College, where I am currently studying. My goal is to transfer to a university with a focus in Russian language by next year. The SLI program has afforded me an incredible opportunity to enhance my language skills and learn more about the Russian culture. I look forward to the opportunities my experience in this program will bring in the future.

Alyssa HaerleAlyssa Haerle

I am a senior at University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations. I hope to add Russian studies and become a double major. I first became interested in Russian while I was a member of the Model United Nations program at Antelope Valley College. Russian foreign policy and affairs were so intriguing to me that I decided to study Russian when I transferred to UCLA in 2008. I hope to study Russian and U.S. relations in graduate school and pursue a career in international relations or international business.

Fiona HayFiona Hay

I am a third year linguistics and psychology and Russian language and literature double major at UCLA. I chose to study linguistics because I have always been fascinated with languages and cultures. My major requires me to study another language, and I chose Russian. It soon became more than just a course requirement, as I became increasingly interested in the language, culture, people, and history. I look forward to immersing myself in experiencing Russia this summer, as well as continuing my study of the language. Following graduation from UCLA, I hope to study with the UCLA Russian Flagship Program in St. Petersburg for a year. Afterward, I plan to go to graduate school to become a speech pathologist.

James HeldtJames Heldt

I am a graduate student at California State University, San Bernardino. My passions are geography, Russian, and international security. From my first introduction to the Russian language I have been fascinated with Russia's rich tradition, history, culture, and role in international politics. Learning Russian is something I do for fun and it's truly a joy. One day I hope to speak Russian so well that if I were speaking to a Russian on the phone they would not be able to tell my native tongue is English. In the future I hope to work for the federal government in a diplomatic/liaison/attaché capacity and use Russian on a daily basis.

Mikael MillerMikael Miller

As a student of Russian and linguistics at UCLA I have had the pleasure of learning not only a fascinating language but the culture and heritage of Russia. With the eventual goal of working in international law, I plan to use my Russian skills on a daily basis. Studying at UCLA has given me many opportunities to learn about the Russian language, and I am thrilled to continue that learning through CSUN and the SLI program.

Patrick MortonPatrick Morton

I am a liberal arts student at Los Angeles City College, mainly pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Russian language and literature, culture, and civilization. I have a background in psychology and music, and I love foreign languages and cultures. I applied to this program to fulfill my hopes of vastly improving my Russian proficiency, further my own personal achievement, and attain a career utilizing my extensive skills.

Peter PotashPeter Potash

I’m a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, majoring in mathematics and Slavic languages and literatures. I was born and raised in Marin County, a suburban area just north of San Francisco, and moved to Santa Barbara for college, where I began to study Russian because of my love for Russian literature. Now I hope I can use my knowledge of the Russian language in a future career and at some point spend an extended time living in Russia.

Vicky Stefinova

I am entering my second year of college, majoring in business law. I am studying Russian because I feel it would benefit me in my future career goals. I am also extremely interested in Russian culture and want to learn more about it.

Christina WestChristina West

I am currently an undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach, where I am pursuing a BS in criminal justice and a BA in political science, with a minor in Russian. In the future, I hope to enroll in law school to pursue a JD. My goal in regard to Russian language is to be able to speak fluently so that I may use it in a future career with a federal law enforcement agency.

Victoria YueVictoria Yue

Currently, I attend California State University, Long Beach, majoring in dance with minors in international relations and Russian. This fall, I will be applying to graduate schools in order to obtain a master’s degree in international relations. My initial interest in Russian history led to an interest in the nation's culture, which then led to an interest in Russian language. I have studied Russian for the past two years. My goal is to speak Russian fluently, and the SLI program has significantly helped propel me toward that goal. The knowledge I have gained through this program is incomparable.