Andikkhou, who is from Moscow, is studying political science and wants to pursue a career as a lawyer in international law. She found the YEAR Program on social media and knew it would help her achieve academic and professional goals. “My academic goal is to improve my English skills especially in professional communications,” said Andikkhou. “Proficiency in English is very important right now in Russia if you want to have a good job and a good salary.”
Gafarova and Andikkhou are making the most of being on the North Central campus. “There is a lot to do here. A lot of student activities,” said Gafarova. North Central events and programs support the YEAR program’s objectives of diversity and inclusion and give students opportunities to learn, share and grow during their time on campus.
A study abroad program that is a true exchange of ideas
YEAR participants take undergraduate level courses and have flexibility in their choice of study. They can continue within their chosen major, as well as American studies, and they can choose electives that offer exploration into new disciplines. Students are selected based on academic excellence, proficiency in the English language, maturity and their ability to overcome cultural challenges they may face while studying in America. During their time in America students gain exposure to the American workplace and are involved in community service projects.
Recently, Anaita and Adelya led a Russian gastronomy session at the Center for Global Education’s annual Intercultural Understanding Retreat in Lake Geneva, Wisc., sponsored by the International Club. “The YEAR Program has given me the pleasure of working with Anaita and Adelya, two wonderful students who are taking full advantage of the comprehensive liberal arts education offered at North Central College,” said Jesus Velasco, director of the Center for Global Education, International Student Services and Engagement.
The YEAR program works both ways. Not only are Gafarova and Andikkhou afforded the opportunity to learn about American culture, it’s a chance for them to share their own experiences.
“I want Americans to know that I am an ambassador for my country and to learn a little more about Russian culture,” Andikkhou said. Gafarova added, “I want people to know Russians are not cold people.”
Andikkhou and Gafarova admit that their initial experience at North Central has been a bit of a culture shock. “Americans smile a lot; it depends on the person of course,” she said. “It is part of American culture to be very friendly. Everyone is smiling and it’s very different in Russia.”
Some of these cultural differences have proven to be a bit uncomfortable at times, but both Gafarova and Andikkhou agree that the food has lived up to its billing. “We have tried deep dish pizza, that was so good,” said Andikkhou. Gafarova added, “And Chicago-style popcorn—caramel and cheese popcorn together is delicious.”