(Re)Visit: Russia

At Cultural Vistas, immersive international experiences are everything; even after they’re over, we continue to learn from them. While new international experiences are not possible right now, we can still learn from our past experiences abroad.

Over the next two weeks, Cultural Vistas will be sharing photos from our alumni through our (Re)Visit series. Each day, we will focus on a different country or U.S. state that transformed them. These photos stay the same, but our perspectives continue to change.

Thank you to our alumni for allowing us to highlight their stunning photography. We hope these photos inspire you to reflect, remember, and #ReVisit your own experiences abroad.


Many of our alumni have once called Russia home. In particular, our fellows in the Alfa Fellowship Program have been transformed by their experiences in this country.

Let’s (re)visit the diverse people and landscapes of Russia through the lenses of our fellow Vistans.

Bright as the sun


“Upon my return to Russia after spending an academic year in America I was fascinated by the beauty of my home country I had not noticed before. I realized that being abroad not only makes one love other cultures but also make people love their own culture and homeland. In a way true beauty might generate love, true love gives me a sense of beauty.”

Running by the water

To Moscow

“To Moscow, to Moscow! – this has always been the yearning phrase proclaimed by characters in novels by Anton Chekhov. “To Moscow!“, they say full of longing because life is supposedly better in Moscow, where they anticipated work and opportunity. But in the end, they never go to Moscow. In June 2016 I, too, told myself: “To Moscow!” but with one difference – I actually went! What made the difference? – The Alfa Fellowship Program! When I began my undergraduate studies in 2006, I chose Russian as a foreign language. At that time, I could never have imagined that I would develop such a close relationship with Russia and its culture, build such kind friendships with its people, and take several trips resulting from this choice. Since then, I have always been pulled back to Russia.”



Lake among trees

The beach

Snow on the water

Solovetsky Islands

“Visiting the Solovetsky island was a dream of mine since arriving in Russia. The island has a fascinating history, having both served as a remote monastery during czarist times and as one of the first Gulags during the soviet period as well as beautiful nature. Luckily I arrived during the summer months and the midnight sun allowed for enough time to see the island and explore its history.”

White Nights in Saint Petersburg

Accordion player

“The late Anthony Bourdain really says it the best: ‘Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you.’

I cannot even begin to express how important my year abroad was for me. It was such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I can confidently say that it was the best year of my life. I met so many new people that I can now call lifelong friends and went on so many new adventures. This year not just a year of many firsts for me (and believe me, I had a lot of firsts this year!), but it was also a year of self-reflection, a year of broadening my horizons, and a year of diving headfirst into new situations while learning how to land on your feet. I will always look back fondly on my year in Russia. I left a part of me behind in Moscow, so I know I will always return.

The people I meet during my travels are what make my experiences so rich, which is why many of my pictures are of individuals I have come across as opposed to pictures of only landscapes and nature. I also really enjoy taking pictures that show a juxtaposition between modern society and history (i.e. modern cars and buildings with a historic church right next to it).”

St. Basil’s Cathedral Up Close

Snowy Moscow

Snowy Winter in Moscow

Olympic rings in Sochi at sunset

Noviy Arbat

Moscow Skyscrapers

Lada Car

Fiagdon Region

Children play a game during the Maslenitsa celebration in Vladikavkaz, Russia

Cathedral inside the Kremlin

Moscow City

Book in Yekaterinburg, Russia

Barents Sea near Murmansk

North Ossetia Hills

“I think everyone should visit Russia once. It is a beautiful country, but due to our past history with them, and what makes it to our current news, that gets lost in translation. I had an amazing time there and learned about their culture and their history. We should not solely base the views we have on a country from what is presented to us if given the opportunity we should try to shape a view of our own and not assume that everything the government does is a reflection of all the people.”

Church of Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg 


Curonion Spit

Are you remembering, reflecting, and (re)visiting your own experiences abroad? Share your story with us.