Student Panelists Share Russian Experiences

October 17, 2016

Two Kennesaw State students who have studied abroad in Russia joined an international student to host a panel discussion on Russian culture and architecture and to encourage their fellow students to visit the country for themselves.

The event, called Russia Today – Student Panel, was held Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 in Social Sciences 1019 and was part of Kennesaw State University’s ‘Year of Russia’ programming. Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, the University is encouraging students and community members to learn about Russian history, politics, and culture through a weekly guest speaker series, musical performances, academic conferences, and a film festival.

Liudmila RyzhovaInternational student Liudmila Ryzhova from Russia. She spoke at the Russia Today student panel

Russia Today gave attendees the chance to learn about Russia from the student perspective.
Liudmila Ryzhova, a Russian student studying nursing at Kennesaw State, began the event with a presentation highlighting the architectural styles, parks, city squares, and other elements that make various Russian cities unique. Ryzhova shared photos and descriptions of landmarks like Red Square in Moscow, the historic center in her hometown of Voronezh, and the Temple of All Religions in Kazan.

“This temple was built by Kazan artist Ildar Khaov on his own land,” she said. “The idea was to combine all religions in the world because Khaov considered God to be for all people and must not be different between religions.”

All Religions Temple
All Religions Temple in Kazan, Russia

Of all the cities Ryzhova discussed, none elicited more excitement from her than St. Petersburg, which is the second-largest city and served as the Imperial capital until 1918.

“This is a city for all,” she said. “It is the most beautiful city in Russia and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great, who was infatuated with European culture. He built the city using traditional European architectural styles as opposed to Russian, and also mandated that the Russian aristocracy adopt European fashion.

“In his time, Russia became a European country.”

European flourishes that can be found in St. Petersburg include a network of canals running through the city similar to Venice, Italy, and a lavish, English-style park on the grounds of Catherine Palace.

St. Petersburg Canal
One of the many canals running through St. Petersburg, Russia

The second presentation featured Kennesaw State international affairs students Angela Vargas and Ryan Jordan sharing their experiences studying abroad in Russia in summer 2016. They participated in the Russia: Past and Present education abroad program, which sees students spending three weeks in Moscow with several field trips to other Russian cities. Academic coursework includes classes in history, art, music, political science, and the Russian language.

Student panelists
Student panelists Angela Vargas and Ryan Jordan studied abroad in Russia in 2016

Vargas and Jordan spoke enthusiastically about their initial impressions of Russia and of being in a city with as much rich, architectural history as Moscow.

“While walking around Moscow it became apparent that everywhere you go there will be a building or is a monument that is hundreds of years old,” Jordan said. “It was just there. You didn’t necessarily have to make a special trip to see these things.”

Architectural highlights of their time in Russia included Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Catherine Palace park, and the many ornately-decorated metro stations across Moscow.

Moscow Metro Station
Each metro station in Moscow is decroated in a distinctive style

In addition, they also spoke about some of the unique cultural experiences they had while in Russia. One memorable event involved reenacting a doomsday scenario at Bunker 42, which is Joseph Stalin’s nuclear facility located more than 200 feet underground.

“There was a simulation of how they would launch ICBMs in the Soviet era,” Jordan said. “They had me and Angela sit at two different desks and type codes in conjunction with each other. At the end we turned the final key together. That was interesting.”

Between the buildings, the culture, the food, and the opportunity to study the Russian language in the heart of the country, the two students described their time in Russia as a life-changing experience.

“It’s definitely a trip I would recommend,” Vargas said. “It was very eye opening and very interesting. Actually, it’s one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done.”

Attendees to the panel were invited to sign up to receive information about the 2017 education abroad trip to Russia.

Russia Today Student Panelists
From left to right: Liudmila Ryzhova, Ryan Jordan, Angela Vargas

Russia Today provided students in the audience with impressions of Russia directly from their peers, which could serve as the inspiration to seek out their own international experiences.

To learn more about the Year of Russia and to see the full 2016-2017 event calendar, check out the Year of Russia Homepage.

Click here to learn more about the Russia: Past and Present education abroad program.

-Patrick Harbin