This is the African grad student I met. He was a computer engineer, so I guess we had something else in common!

Culture Shock can be very different for minorities. Make sure to check out the "Minorities Abroad" section of this site for insight.

Crystal in St. Petersburg

Published: October 28, 2013

Minorities Abroad Project
Name: Crystal Farmer
Destination: St. Petersburg, Russia
Time Abroad: Summer 2006
Ethnic Self-identification: African-American

I was a self contained tourist attraction in Russia. In the midst of me worrying about how to conjugate the word stop and what to do with kopecks, I had to worry about how I represented the entire black race. I was asked about my home life, had pictures taken without my permission, and was stared at for a long overnight train ride. I had more in common with my fellow study abroad students than I did with the African graduate student I met, but I noticed that people automatically associated us together. It was frustrating, but after a while I began to understand that most Russians had no idea about the diversity of people from the United States. They only saw a sliver of our lives from the news, Internet, and TV shows. So I didn’t fault them for being curious about me. I just gave them a smile and hoped I didn’t miss my bus stop.

I have no idea who these guys were but I was like "black people!" so I took a picture.
I have no idea who these guys were but I was like “black people!” so I took a picture.
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About the author

Emily Wang

Emily Wang is PhD student in the Slavic Languages and Literatures program at Princeton University. She is an editor of the Minorities Abroad Project of this site and her account will be used to post insights from multiple authors. This project is affiliated with the Association for Students and Teachers of Color in Slavic Study, a sub-group of ASEEES (the Assocation for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies). For more about her, see her site at Princeton.

Program attended: Challenge Grants: Funding for Study Abroad

View all posts by: Emily Wang