Facts the average student knows about Russia: It’s the biggest country in the world, it’s extremely cold, it was our rival during the Cold War and its capital is Moscow.
Little do students know one among them is a Russian foreign exchange student, senior Yaroslavna “Yasya” Kondrashova.
Kondrashova lived in St. Petersburg, a 700 hundred year old city, for the past four years.
Kondrashova came here with a very popular exchange program, Future Leaders Exchange, in Russia. Over 1,000 people compete to be accepted in the exchange program, and only twelve are selected to study in the United States.
“It’s free, I don’t pay nothing to be here,” Kondrashova said.
She commented on how her impression of America was based on stereotypes like “mean girls” and “football players,” but now that she has experienced America in her own skin, her perspective has changed.
“Movies always lie,” Kondrashova said.
Back in Russia, Kondrashova was involved in journalism, where she wrote for the city newspaper for two years. She has also been singing for eleven years and loves to read. She misses the weather and her independence back home.
“I miss snow and the beauty of my city,” Kondrashova said.
She also misses her friends and the activities she could do back home.
“I miss white nights,” she said.
She said since Russia has only two hours of nighttime, teenagers walk around the city at wee hours of the morning. Even though it may still be 2 a.m., there would still be daylight. The teenagers refer to this as “white nights”.
Kondrashova compared both Russia to America and Reagan to her former school.
“Here you have better quality of life, to tell the truth,” Kondrashova said. “Everything is for people to be comfortable.”
Moreover, her former school was so much smaller; she had weekly schedules and no electives. She says she loves the new atmosphere because people are very helpful, there is a lot of space and she feels free.
“People here are so nice and open-minded,” she said.
Her least favorite thing is the short breaks because students get “too crazy.”
Although Kondrashova has learned to be very independent from her family, it has been hard for her to be far away from home.
“I couldn’t imagine it was this hard,” Kondrashova said, “For me, this is like another planet.”
Kondrashova’s mom was the one who encouraged her to go to an exchange program
“’You have to go to America,’ she told me, ‘You have to see how people are, how different everything is,’” Kondrashova said.
Kondrashova is ecstatic about her senior year and wants to have the “American High School Experience” during her time spent away from home.