Tag Archives: Russia

Friday’s Olympian to Watch: Viktoria Komova

You’ve probably already seen the tiny Russian gymnast Viktoria Komova win the silver in the all-around individual gymnastics competition just yesterday. As I watched the duel between her and American Gabby Douglas, I could only imagine what was going through her head. But after reading more about her, it seems that besides gymnastics, she is a typical 17 year-old girl. Vika, as she is known by friends, loves the Twilight series, pizza, drawing, and has a Shi Tzu puppy named  Kutya.

The daughter of two gymnasts, the ability to fly through the air runs in Vika’s family. Her mother introduced her to the sport at the age of 5 and she immediately excelled. Now she practices three times a day for six days a week. The loss yesterday was definitely a difficult one, but Vika seemed to be taking it in stride. “I am proud about what I have done today,” Komova said. “I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t get gold. (Douglas) is very strong. She performed beautifully today.”

Viktoria still has a few more events on Sunday including her best event – the uneven bars. Be sure to listen for her signature move – an inside-salter on the low bar with a half-turn catch to the high bar. It should be an exciting match up!

Olympic Sport: Gymnastics

Hometown: Voronehz, Russia

Birthdate: January 30, 1995 (age 17)

Height: 4’11” (she’s my height exactly…these are my people)

Weight: 82 lbs. (she is not my weight exactly)

Read more about Viktoria Komova at the following sites:


If You Could Study Abroad Again

In my job I’m frequently asked if I could study abroad again, where would I go. Of course, I would never give up my experience in Italy; as an Italian major, it was really the only place for me to go. However, if I could go some place completely different, these would be my top 5:

1. Bangalore, India with USAC

India is definitely on my short list these days. In addition to it being the most affordable tuition price I know of ($3,780 a semester!!), USAC’s program at Christ University in Bangalore has really interesting courses like Bollywood Dance, Women’s Issues in Indian Society, and Buddhism and Hinduism in Contemporary Society.

2. Lima, Peru with ISA

With its lively Latin culture and affordable living, Lima is one of my favorite study abroad spots. ISA’s program at University of San Ignacio de Loyala has a huge variety of classes in English (since my Spanish is pathetic) and offers home-stay options and a variety of excursions, including one to Machu Picchu.

3. Amman, Jordan with SIT

As seen through my book and movie choices, I really like the Middle East.  The SIT program in Jordan focuses on modernization and social change in the region and includes a short and long-term home-stay experience. While a little pricey, the program requires a great deal of independent research – a huge plus for anyone interested in graduate school.

4. Cuenca, Ecuador with CEDEI

One of my student workers went on this program and LOVED it. Up in the mountains of Ecuador, this city has far less American students than Quito and allows for real immersion.  For $12,900 students get their home-stay with meals, tuition, and excursions to Peru and the Galapagos. The program also works on the American calendar which can be nice.

5. St. Petersburg, Russia with AIFS

After reading Soulshine Traveler, Russia has been looking better and better. Another one of my student workers did the AIFS program in St. Petersburg last fall and she continues to sing their praises. In addition to intensive Russian, the program offers great courses like Contemporary Russian Literature and Russian History: from Kiev Russia to the Revolution. Another nice thing about AIFS is that it is all-inclusive and for $11,995 students get tuition, housing, meals, local transportation, and excursions to London, Finland, Estonia, and Moscow.

If you could study abroad again or for the first time, where would you go?

Abroad Blog of the Week: Soulshine Traveler

If you are looking for adventurous inspiration, Soulshine Traveler is a blog you should definitely check out.  Taking a year off from the corporate world starting last October, Meghan is traversing the globe on the roads less traveled and serving along the way. Currently she is in the small city of Yaroslavl, Russia with Cross-Cultural Solutions (a great international volunteer organization!) working in the community for the next two months.  I’ve only been onto this blog for about 2 weeks but here is what I love so far:

  1. Soulshine’s photos would make just about anyone want to go to Russia.  Unfortunately Russia is usually not on the top of someone’s travel bucket list but I think Meghan’s photos may just be the nudge someone would need to add it to the list. For example (wow, right?):     
  2. Each week on Soulshine Traveler, Meghan shares a variety of online resources she has stumbled upon pertaining to her interests, travel, other blogs, etc. Check out her most recent Dose of Soulshine – the Diary of Foreign Language Class Clown is a good one.
  3. Meghan is an excellent storyteller. I have never been to Russia, however, when I read her last post I could imagine myself in Yaroslavl. Her travel stories are a fond reminder of my own independent global adventures and are truly a delight to read.
  4. But what I think I love most I found out last night in a message from Meghan. She shared with me that she never studied abroad but that perhaps this year of traveling is making up for that.  I have so many students that think once college comes and goes, their chance at seeing the world is over.  I think Soulshine Traveler is indication that this simply is not true. It serves as a good reminder to me (and I hope you) that the world is only a decision away.