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EESA Alumni Testimonials

To contact EESA alumni directly, please email

Read the online language programs' alumni testimonials here

Peter and Paul Church in St. PetersburgNile M.
University of Texas at Austin

2013-2014 academic year

Would you recommend studying abroad with EESA?
I would recommend EESA to other students because of the amount of consideration put into each participant's individual needs and interests, the affordability compared to similar programs, the suitability of Kharkiv as a city to learn Russian, and the overall unique experience of studying in a country like Ukraine. If you want to improve your Russian (or Ukrainian), study in a unique and unusual part of the world and have the opportunity to travel across Eastern & Central Europe all at an affordable price, EESA is the way to do so. If you are considering studying abroad with EESA and facing difficulties with your home university, put your study abroad directors in touch with EESA's organizers and alumni and they will understand that EESA provides students with a very valuable opportunity.

Why did you decide to study abroad with EESA?
I decided to study abroad with EESA because being able to improve my Russian in a bilingual country and being able to take courses relevant to my studies at home appealed to me. It will impact my future positively in that I will have an entire year abroad under my belt, which I hope will reflect on my independence and ability to adapt to foreign cultures.

Did you enjoy living in Kharkiv, EESA's host city?
I like living in Kharkiv because it is not unmanageably large and the public transportation is good. It has just about every kind of store you might need to go to, so it's not necessary to travel to a larger city in order to get any of the things you might want or need. It is also full of students, many of whom are interested in interacting with foreigners. One of the most enjoyable things to do is just walking around the city in Kharkiv's many parks and pedestrian-oriented streets. The rides and roller coasters in Gorky Park are also really fun and affordable, and in general Gorky Park is a nice place to spend time, with lots of cafes and places to sit.

What was your favorite part about EESA's semester program?Academic Field Trip, Prague, Czech Republic
I enjoyed the academic field trips to Russia and to the various countries in Eastern & Central Europe, which included very interesting academic sessions with local scholars. Those trips gave me a better sense of what life is like in those countries and some of the social, political and economic problems that post-Communist countries face today. There was also a lot of free time built into the schedule, which gave us the opportunity to explore the cities on our own.

Have your language skills improved after studying abroad for a semester with EESA?
Kharkiv is without doubt the best city in Ukraine for studying Russian because it is basically the only language people in the city use to communicate. My language skills have improved significantly because of being surrounded by the language everywhere, and also because of some connections I was able to make with local students outside of class. I was also able to pick up some Ukrainian, which makes understanding other Eastern European languages easier.        

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Daniela F.Academic Field Trip, Krakow, Poland
West Texas A&M University

2013-2014 academic year

Daniela joined the EESA program for a semester, then after two months she decided to stay for an academic year.

Why did you decide to study abroad with EESA?
I choose EESA because of its curriculum and location. It’s also one of the most affordable programs if you want to travel abroad; additionally, if you get to travel while you’re here too! Despite my journalism background, studying with EESA has opened my eyes into a new spectrum where I can teach English to foreign students and help others improve their English speaking skills while improving my own Russian as well. Learning languages, any language, fluently is a great way to make your resume stand out amongst others.

Did you enjoy living in Kharkiv, EESA's host city?
Kharkiv is amazing! I really, really love it. It’s a place that I would consider living in the future. One of my favorite places to go is a small café that gives this home-y feel called “чердак” which is actually situated in a basement. The staff is really nice and sometimes you will encounter foreign people there. If you don’t know how to Ice skate like I did, Dafi and Karavan (they’re like malls) have their own skating rinks! For a price of $4-5 an hour, you can learn how to ice skate. If you want to meet knew people and you’re are not fluent in Russian, English Speaking Clubs are the best place to go meet new people.

Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, RussiaWhat was your favorite part about EESA's semester program?
My favorite part of the EESA program is the Academic Fieldtrips. EESA provided the wonderful opportunity to go to one of the places I had dreamed my entire life to go: The Winter Palace, or as it is now known as the Hermitage Museum.

Did you enjoy studying at Karazin University?
My professors at Karazin University were very good and my favorite class was Social Stratification and Inequalities in Modern World because it teaches you the differences between other countries, your own and the one you’re currently staying it. There are many statistics and a lot of new information that you never thought would be possible. It’s a really interesting class that I recommend anyone to take! It’s a bit unfair to say which is my favorite professor, they were all different but very likable!

Have your language skills improved after studying abroad for a semester with EESA?Academic Field Trip, Peter and Paul Church, St. Petersburg
I knew zero Russian when I joined the EESA program. I’m not an expert in speaking in Russian but I have learned the basics and I know how to read Russian. It’s a lot better to come to a country and city where most of the population speaks Russian so you have it around you 24/7 and you don’t have English as a distraction in your home town.

Would you recommend studying abroad with EESA?
I would recommend the EESA program to my friends, and to anybody who wishes to study abroad. EESA is a great opportunity for anybody and the things you will learn here and all the places you will visit will impress your family back home!

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EESA Students in Moscow

Chelsea M.

Studied with EESA for the 2012-2013 academic year

Chelsea is a Russian Language and International Studies major from Lafayette, Indiana, who will be beginning her senior year at Indiana University in the fall. Learning languages and traveling are some of her favorite things to do and she is always looking forward to her next adventure. This summer she is teaching English to children at a summer camp in Russia.

Why did you decide to study abroad with EESA?
I chose to study abroad with EESA because it is one of the few programs which offers American students the chance to study abroad in Ukraine. As a Russian language major, studying abroad in Ukraine sets me apart from my peers, who almost exclusively participate in programs in St. Petersburg or Moscow, Russia.

At the same time, I still got to experience those two great Russian cities during EESA-sponsored academic field trips. EESA was the only program I found which would allow me to study both Russian and Ukrainian languages while on the program. EESA offers one of the most affordable study abroad programs and the staff is extremely helpful and caring from the moment a student expresses interest in their program.

What made this experience unique and special?
Kharkov, Ukraine is a unique place to study abroad because it is primarily a city of stuSaint Andrew's Cathedral in Kievdents, allowing me to make many friends and find many interesting opportunities to attend and participate in various events in the city. My experience was also unique in that I had many opportunities to do more than just study abroad. I volunteered 3 days/week as a teacher of English at a school near my apartment and volunteered regularly a several orphanages in Kharkov.

For many of my friends in Kharkov I was the first American they had ever met, providing me the unique opportunity to really share my life and culture with them. An experience I gained with EESA, which few other programs offer was the opportunity to enroll directly in courses with other Ukrainian students and not just in courses with my American groupmates. These courses were taught in Russian and allowed me both language practice and the opportunity to make new friends.

How has this experience impacted your future?
Because of my year in Ukraine and the unique experiences I had there, I am now completely certain that I want to pursue a career which involves cross-cultural education. Spending the year in Kharkov, I made connections that will make that goal possible. Also, Ukraine is a country which will completely steal your heart. I absolutely fell in love with the people, food, music, architecture, landscape, and life-style. There are so many things I learned in and from Ukraine that will be important parts of my worldview for the rest of my life.                            

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EESA field trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia

Max T.
Brooklyn College, SUNY

Major: Psychology
Minor: English
Studied with EESA in spring 2013

Max was born in Kiev, Ukraine, but moved to New York with his family at the age of three. He is currently a junior in the Macaulay Honors program at Brooklyn College. He is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in English, because he does enjoy writing, sometimes.

Why did you decide to study abroad with EESA?
I wasn't specifically looking to study in Eastern Europe, but I had realized, one day after discovering EESA on a study abroad database, that this program was just perfect for me. Improving my Russian was my primary goal this past semester, and it seemed only too appropriate that I simultaneously get in touch with my Ukrainian identity, by spending a few months in the country of my birth.

EESA offered courses in the Russian language and the history of Ukraine, as well as field trips to the cultural centers of Eastern Europe. Considering the degree of this cultural immersion, the program is relatively affordable. The program directors were also very helpful and willing to accommodate any preference that would make the experience as rewarding as possible.

What made this experience unique and special?
I've already touched upon what makes this program so unique, but it doesn't hurt to point out that no other study abroad program offers the same kind of immersion in Eastern Europe. Aside from the academic field trips and Fireworks in Kharkiv, Ukraineoccasional cultural events in Kharkov that we attended as a group, the time spent there is a kind of choose-your-own adventure. My group mates and I made friends with dozens of locals, as well as international students and teachers who had been calling Kharkov their home for some time. There were many opportunities to volunteer, to teach English in private language schools, to attend speaking clubs and game clubs, and thereby to make many new friends. I think the level of freedom enjoyed by the members of my group is unusual for most organized study abroad programs.

How has this experience impacted your future?
My experience of living in Ukraine this past spring was especially personal, because I went on the trip to better understand my Russian/Ukrainian identity, something that was always in the background as I grew up and went to school in Brooklyn. I've always spoken Russian with my parents, but before the trip this was more of an improvised American-Russian to which we all had gotten accustomed.

While studying abroad with EESA, I was able to converse with Ukrainian people my own age, and not only did this give me a better understanding of the language, and of my own cultural identity, shaped as it is by nearly eighteen years of life in New York City, but this interaction really deepened my appreciation of a certain universal quality, something that makes people immediately relatable, regardless of background.

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Kayla in Donetsk, Ukraine

Kayla K.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Major: International Business
Minor: Economics
Studied with EESA for 2012 calendar year

"I specifically wanted to study abroad in Ukraine because everyone else goes to Western Europe like Germany, France, Italy, as well as Russia, and I wanted to do something different. I fell in love with Ukraine, its people, the culture, the food and the language. I love the host city Kharkiv, the architecture is so beautiful, and it's extraordinary to walk by all these great buildings just on my way to class. The on-site staff is great. They go far and beyond to make sure we are doing well. I got sick one time while on the program and received so much help and support from the on-site director. I strongly recommend the EESA-Ukraine program to everybody! I personally gained a lot of independence while studying abroad in Ukraine with EESA.

My favorite part of the EESA Ukraine program was the academic field trips. During these I learned so much and being able to see everything hands on was the best part about it all. I saw places that I have been wanting to see for years and they were definitely a once in a life experience. I also really enjoyed living in Kharkiv! The city is beautiful and after getting to know the history I really appreciated it more. A lot of good and bad has happened in Kharkiv and I think it's really neat to be in a place where a lot has happened and be a part of that history every day."

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EESA Alum Sam in Kiev

Sam S.
Miami University of Ohio

Major: International Business
Minor: Russian
Studied with EESA in spring 2012

"I chose Eastern European Study Abroad specifically because it was in Ukraine. I have always wanted to come to Ukraine, since I was about 14 years old. This is the only study abroad opportunity that is in Ukraine that is offered by my school. It is also a very affordable program. I was able to use my scholarships to help make it even more affordable. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity for me for my last semester of college, being done with all my requirements, I really wanted to do something that was more worthwhile than staying at my home university. I also wanted to see all the places that I have studied. Especially in Kyiv, it was amazing. To see all the places that you learned about in class was very important to me because you can’t fully appreciate something until you see it in person."

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Vera in Kharkiv, UkraineVera M.
University of South Florida

Major: Nursing, Chemistry
Studied with EESA in fall 2012

“I chose to study abroad with EESA because I was really interested in Ukrainian folklore and music and this was the only program that got back to me about studying folklore. I actually contacted multiple programs and no one would tell me about any music programs or try to help me; but EESA actually planned everything out and did exactly what I needed for my thesis.

What I liked the most about the EESA program was the really great opportunity to study Ukrainian music, the friends I made, everything I learned about the culture and the people I met, and my relationships with the professors, which will be very helpful when I'm back in the U.S. This program really changed me because I’ve never left America before, but through this program I got to see the world and become more culturally diverse and well-rounded confident person.”

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Ukrainian Easter celebration

Maryann B.
Kent State University

Major: International Business
Minor: International Business
Studied with EESA in spring 2012

"The reason I choose to study with Eastern European Study Abroad is because programs in Eastern Europe are pretty nonexistent at this point. There are not that many programs that are offered, and the ones that are offered tend to be in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which is more than anything that I could ever afford. So for me to get the experience I wanted, Eastern European Study Abroad was the best option. I also wanted to immerse myself in the Russian language and discover as much as I can about the Ukrainian and Russian cultures."

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Jess in Kyiv on the EESA field trip

Jessica O.
Lees-McRae College

Major: Business Administration & International Studies
Minor: International Business & French
Studied with EESA in spring 2012

"The EESA program offers a very unique opportunity that we are fortunate to be a part of. It has been extremely welcoming. The food and people are great. It is very clean, especially public transportation. People are much more open and friendly than they appear. I feel comfortable attempting the language and people are happy to teach!"

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