Russian Exchange Student at UNA

Audrey Baxter, Volunteer Editor

Audrey Baxter had interviewed Elena Utiupina, a second year attending the University of North Alabama on foreign exchange from Russia. Elena is an education major in Russia and is currently studying English in the United States.

Baxter: What made you want to do foreign exchange?

Utiupina: The reason why I wanted to do that is that I’m going to be an English teacher and I want to master the language and learn more about the American culture as I believe that teaching English is impossible without full understanding of the native speakers’ culture. Besides, I can’t be indifferent when it comes to politics. There’s lots of propaganda about America in Russia and our TV blames the US for everything bad happening in Russia, mildly speaking. So, I want to show Russians the good sides of the American culture; that there are lots of good people in the US, that the politics very often have nothing to do with usual people. And I also realize that Americans know hardly anything about Russia, though your propaganda about us is not that devastating. I’m sure that Russians are interesting, our culture and traditions are unique. And I’m happy to share it with Americans!

Baxter: What made you want to come to UNA on foreign exchange?

Utiupina: I didn’t really have a choice with the exchange program. So, we made an agreement that we don’t disagree where they send us. 


Baxter: Is it hard to get into the foreign exchange program in Russia?

Utiupina: It’s not my school that sent me here it is your U.S. government that brought me here. They pride us with their foreign exchange program and we take pride, so our [Russian] schools are not involved in it.


Baxter: Did you get to choose the country you exchanged to? 

Utiupina: So, the program is called Year of Exchange in America for Russians so it’s only in America.


Baxter: Do you like it here at UNA?

Utiupina: Sure, it’s very different from a Russian university. Our education is a combination of our Russian education and European education so you can choose your classes, like we could have classes from ten to six am. And here it’s very flexible like you can change your major in Russia very easily as well, so you should enter the university for that and start from the very beginning.


Baxter: What’s your favorite thing about UNA?

Utiupina: I think that activities like movie nights and language tables and after school things, in Russia we just take our classes and run home. Nothing like that I was just amazed having it all here.


Baxter: What’s something you miss from home a lot?

Utiupina: I miss my family and I really miss Russian food. It took me awhile to get used to your American food. 


Baxter: What’s something you hope to see before leaving UNA?

Utiupina: Actually I’ve seen everything I wanted to see. During my winter break I had a three week trip. I went to Hawaii to San Francisco to Las Vegas to New York to Boston, I’ve seen everything.