written by Veniamin Kizeev from Russia
When I found out that my Placement would be at the University of Utah, I did not know anything about Utah. I did not understand where I was going, so I decided to write to my supervisor as soon as I received his e-mail. I received a detailed answer, what is Utah, what should I take with me, even what clothes are best to take. But, most importantly, my supervisor Paul and my colleague Spencer made a detailed schedule of our meetings! It was great.
Then there was the pre-departure orientation in Washington. So many things you do not know! It’s unusual, and sometimes you feel helpless. The best way is to ask! Staff of the American Councils are really open people, ready to share their knowledge! Also, it was good idea to make a chat in WhatsApp, because you can always ask each other about something and also you can share your knowledge!
When I came to Utah, here you understand the value of the Professional Fellows Programs. There are an infinite number of opportunities for learning new experiences and cultures. People in Utah are friendly and willing to share their knowledge. I was lucky with my supervisor and colleagues. Every day I have at least 2 meetings, and sometimes 5-6. But, most importantly, I asked more questions and learned not to be afraid of not knowing something and not understanding. And it does not matter if it’s professional issues or everyday issues. One must never be afraid and ask, ask and ask.
And of course the main test and new experience for me was the celebration of my birthday! I bought a birthday cake. But I did not know how to do it in the USA, so I shared with Spencer and Paul! It was magical. They made a meeting at lunch, and I met all our great team, told about what I do in Tomsk, about our city, about universities, about our culture, answered the questions about how we work and live! And my colleagues gave me a gift!
The main thing that I realized, do not be afraid to ask questions, to communicate with people and be yourself. We are very, very similar! We are people!