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Participant Success Story

"[OPIT] was really eye-opening both for my professional development as well as my understanding of a business culture in a culture that is different from my own."

Cydnie Davenport (OPIT Russia 2018)

Cydnie DavenportAlumna Cydnie Davenport spent a summer interning in Moscow, gaining valuable experience and language skills while learning about Russian culture from her host family and others.

Cydnie Davenport, a participant on the Overseas Professional and Intercultural Training Program (OPIT) in 2018, interned at CINEMOOD in Moscow, Russia. After studying Russian for over six years, Cydnie concluded that the OPIT program would be a great opportunity for her to study the language and culture of Russia while gaining business experience.

“Participating in this program allowed me to learn more about what it was like to work in an office atmosphere, doing translations, brainstorming advertisements, and looking at reviews for our product. It was really eye-opening both for my professional development as well as my understanding of a business culture in a culture that is different from my own.”

In exploring Russian culture and all Moscow had to offer, Cydnie divided her time between living like a local and living like a tourist. In doing so she was able to discover the hidden gems of her city and visit its most popular landmarks. In describing some of these adventures, Cydnie said “I stood in awe when I turned around and realized I was so close to St. Basil’s Cathedral, or when I stood near Red Square looking out at all the tourists, and the city lit up with all of these colorful lights.”

On living with her host family, Cydnie said “I was very fortunate to have someone take this American stranger into their home and educate me about their culture, language, and life.” Cydnie very much enjoyed living with her host mother, who did her very best to make sure she was comfortable and felt welcome.

Cydnie explained that while it can be overwhelming to live in a place where one cannot simply revert to English, ultimately she felt that the full language immersion helped her grow her language skills tremendously. In describing this change and how it impacted her life after the program, Cydnie said, “First and foremost, my language skills improved significantly. I was shocked to see how easily I was able to communicate in Russian with my colleagues back home. I was speaking Russian 90% of the time, even though I didn’t need to.”

Cydnie was able to apply her skills acquired from her internship at CINEMOOD to a job at a Microsoft-partnered start-up. In 2019 she graduated from the University of Oregon with a double major in Linguistics & Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and a Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Certificate in Russian. Post-graduation, Cydnie hopes to return to Russia to teach English to kindergarteners.

Finally, Cydnie offers some words of wisdom to future participants: “Enjoy the moment. Take pictures but be sure to soak in all the little things too. What’s important is having the experience and being able to revel in the memories for years to come. It’s going to be overwhelming, there are going to be moments where you want to pack up and go home. Just know that this is a part of the experience, keep an open mind and good attitude and it will be one the most incredible experiences of your life!”

Cydnie in Russia while on the Overseas Professional and Intercultural Training Program (OPIT).

Published by AC Study Abroad staff in July 2020.

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