During winter break, 11 Hobart and William Smith students flew to Moscow to delve into the depths of Russian history, language and culture through a 10-day experience curated and led by Associate Dean for Curricular Initiatives and Development and Associate Professor of Russian Area Studies David Galloway, along with Associate Professor of Psychology Emily Fisher.
The cultural introduction to Russia, intended for students of all areas of study and all language ability, began and ended in Russia’s biggest city, Moscow, with a four-day exploration of St. Petersburg in between.
“This experience is designed to introduce students to contemporary Russia as well as its historical past. By traveling in this country which for so long was – and in many ways, still is – regarded as our enemy, I hope students start to see some of the complexities and nuances of Russia today,” says Galloway, who has led two previous winter break trips to Russia.
After arriving in Moscow on Jan. 3, the group spent three days exploring the city before heading to St. Petersburg, where they discovered cathedrals and fortresses, and took a tour of the Imperial Porcelain factory. The group also spent a day in Novgorod, one of Russia’s oldest and most important historic cities and experienced a dinner cruise on the Moscow River.
“David Galloway put together a tremendous itinerary that covered a range of historical eras: we saw old cathedrals, tsarist palaces, folk dancers and Soviet military sites. Plus, everything was decorated for the holidays so it felt like a beautiful winter wonderland,” says Fisher.
Avery Wickersham ’19, MAT’20 called the experience “an amazing opportunity” to explore a new culture. “My view is that as a country our relationship with Russia is sometimes tenuous, so it was interesting being in Russia and seeing things from a different perspective.”
On top of the many museums and cathedrals, the itinerary also gave students the option to experience an ice hockey game in Moscow or attend a production of Kai and Gerda at New Bolshoi Theatre.
“My favorite parts of the experience were the Winter Palace, the Faberge Egg Museum and the Gulag Museum. Each one showed me different parts of Russia’s history, from royalty and aristocracy, to work camps and the soviet regime,” says Emma Bilton ’20. “For me, the once in a lifetime experience broadened my horizons and gave me a look into an interesting country.”