Andrew R. Jones '10 majored in history and economics at Wheaton. During the fall semester of his junior year, he studied abroad in Russia. Andrew participated in the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities' Best Semester program in Russian Studies. It wasn't too difficult to arrange classes and his schedule requirements, and it ended up being less expensive than a semester at Wheaton . He studied everything Russian—the language, the literature, religious history, the history of Christianity in Russia , and a class on current events in Russia called Post-Communist Russia.
While the program wasn't easy by any means, Andrew said it wasn't particularly academically rigorous, either, so that students had free time to go out and experience the culture. He had class four days a week, with language classes in the morning and his other classes in the afternoon. For the first half of the semester, he lived in a dorm with other Russian students, but in the second half of the semester, he and the other 15 students from CCCU schools lived in different homes with host families.
Andrew said the program taught him to view things from a different perspective—not just life, but history itself. He saw these different perspectives while he was there, in media reports on the conflict between Georgia and Russia . When he and fellow students compared the American media reports with the Russian ones, they were completely different, even though they were covering the same event, and both are relatively free presses; they just looked at the situation differently. This whole experience showed him how different perspectives can be applied to history, leading to different interpretations of the same event.
To other majors thinking of studying abroad, Andrew recommends the Russia program and says majors should “get out of the West,” instead of going somewhere like England, which is “really just America with an accent, in my opinion.” Instead, go somewhere with a different cultural perspective, he says.
Written by Danielle Acker, November 2009