International Studies - The Eurasia Project Student Profiles

The following Fairfield students and alumni share their inspiration and experiences of their visits to Eurasia.

Kate Cota '07 (far right) with teachers and Directors of the Institute of Education

Image: Alumni spotlight

Kate Cota '07


Fulbright Scholar

Kate Cota '07
Minor: Russian and European Studies

"My experience on a Fulbright in the Republic of Georgia has been nothing short of an adventure and a learning experience that has helped me to become aware of the incredible amount of work involved in rebuilding a society. Life in the Caucuses is vibrant in its contrast of beauty and decay, harmony and confusion. Living in a country that has always been considered the divide between Europe and Asia, I see every day the struggle for delicate peace and stability that results from centuries of invasion and rule by outside powers. The value of literature, folk music and dance, art and religion is still very much alive to the people of Georgia, and holds a power of healing and unity that I can only begin to try to understand. The chance to delve into this web of life has been challenging and inspiring, giving me a new perspective on the values that form the basis for societies, nations and peoples.

"I am photographed above with some teachers and directors of the Institute of Education, at a teacher training in Adjara for teachers from the high-mountainous villages. This was a very interesting event as it presented to teachers the new teaching methods, encouraging them to change from the Soviet methods. It is a perfect example of how Georgia is a nation in flux, and it was an experience to see the two generations working together to be sure children in these isolated villages were given the same education as children in Tbilisi."



Image: Student spotlight

Jane Hendrick '10



Study Abroad

Jane Hedrick '10
 Old Greenwich, CT
Major: Nursing
Fairfield Study Abroad Experience:
St. Petersburg, February 29-March 9, 2008

Why St. Petersburg?

I thought that this was an amazing opportunity. I had heard that it was a beautiful city and I love to travel. I really didn't see myself being able to get there any other way.

Most memorable travel excursion?

Hard to pick - this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience as a whole. The Church of Spilt Blood was awesome and almost looked fake. The inside of St. Isaacs was gorgeous. What I loved most about that trip was climbing to the top of the dome and seeing the extraordinary view of the city. The Cemetary from the Siege was very touching, especially the little museum alongside it. And the Hermitage was a spectacular palace. The paintings are so famous, it was very cool to see them in person. Then just having time to ourselves in the evening to explore the city at our own pace was also very memorable and fun.

How was your study abroad experience different than you thought it would be?

I really didn't know what to expect before going on the trip. I didn't know any of the other people going so I was a little nervous, but everything completely fell into place and worked out perfectly. The whole experience was incredible, I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat. It's interesting. Here Russia is perceived as kind of bleak and depressing, and when I got back a friend of mine actually asked me if it was as depressing as she pictured it to be. I found the sky a little grey pretty much all the time, but the city itself is very alive and beautiful.

Who will you remember most from St. Petersburg and why?

I didn't know the other students before the trip but I will never forget them now. The mix of different personalities made the trip what it was. I will also definitely remember Prof. McFadden and "Elena" who made the trip amazing. Elena is from St. Petersburg so her first-hand knowledge was so nice and she taught us Russian in the mornings which was very fun and helpful. Both Prof. McFadden and Elena knew the history of everything we saw which really helped us understand the importance of what we were seeing and experiencing, instead of it just being a random monument or building that happened to be beautiful. I will also always remember the Russian students and citizens out in the city that we met - it was interesting to meet people in another part of the world and see what their lives are like compared to ours.



Image: Student spotlight

Kyra Marie Barre '11



Study Abroad

Kyra Marie Barre '11
Hometown: Austin, TX
Major: Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
Fairfield Study Abroad Experience: 
St. Petersburg, February 29-March 9, 2008

Why St. Petersburg?

It met one of my history requirements and I love to travel. And I didn't think I'd ever get to Russia by myself.

Most memorable moment?

When our tiny group went out into the city the first night without our professors or knowledge of the Russian language. I learned on this night not to be afraid to go out and experience new things. It was one of the best nights of my life.

What did you learn to love about the people and culture of St. Petersburg?

I learned to love the similarities and differences between America and Russia. I love how Russia followed in America's path on modernization, but retained their historical background.

In what way did your study abroad experience challenge or change you?

The experience definitely opened my eyes to how Russia really is and killed any stereotype I might have had. It was so different from what I ever imagined. I found that Russians have a lot of cultural inaccuracies about America as well. So I was challenged to break those stereotypes on either side. I also discovered that I'm not as afraid of trying new things as I thought I was ... I opened up to new experiences and that new sense of awareness will remain with me for a lifetime.

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