Alumni Spotlight: Chelsea McShurley


Chelsea is a Russian Language and International Studies major from Lafayette, Indiana, who will be beginning her senior year at Indiana University in the fall. Learning languages and traveling are some of her favorite things to do and she is always looking forward to her next adventure. This summer she is teaching English to children at a summer camp in Russia.

Why did you decide to study abroad with EESA?

I chose to study abroad with EESA because it is one of the few programs which offers American students the chance to study abroad in Ukraine. As a Russian language major, studying abroad in Ukraine sets me apart from my peers, who almost exclusively participate in programs in St. Petersburg or Moscow, Russia.

At the same time, I still got to experience those two great Russian cities during EESA-sponsored academic field trips. EESA was the only program I found which would allow me to study both Russian and Ukrainian languages while on the program. EESA offers one of the most affordable study abroad programs and the staff is extremely helpful and caring from the moment a student expresses interest in their program.

What made this experience unique and special?

Kharkov, Ukraine is a unique place to study abroad because it is primarily a city of students, allowing me to make many friends and find many interesting opportunities to attend and participate in various events in the city. My experience was also unique in that I had many opportunities to do more than just study abroad. I volunteered 3 days/week as a teacher of English at a school near my apartment and volunteered regularly a several orphanages in Kharkov.

For many of my friends in Kharkov I was the first American they had ever met, providing me the unique opportunity to really share my life and culture with them. An experience I gained with EESA, which few other programs offer was the opportunity to enroll directly in courses with other Ukrainian students and not just in courses with my American groupmates. These courses were taught in Russian and allowed me both language practice and the opportunity to make new friends.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Because of my year in Ukraine and the unique experiences I had there, I am now completely certain that I want to pursue a career which involves cross-cultural education. Spending the year in Kharkov, I made connections that will make that goal possible. Also, Ukraine is a country which will completely steal your heart. I absolutely fell in love with the people, food, music, architecture, landscape, and life-style. There are so many things I learned in and from Ukraine that will be important parts of my worldview for the rest of my life.