My love affair with Great Britain started thirty-three years ago at the University of Surrey where I was an exchange student from the Soviet Union. I was twenty, the age of many of you. Since then, I have traveled to many countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and have moved to the US, but the memories of those six weeks in Britain remain among the brightest and happiest of all my life experiences. I hope you will be able to say the same after your 2024 London semester.
I grew up in Moscow, Russia, a bustling and crowded place, a little bit like London. When I was twenty-two, I came to the US to do my master’s degree in literature at Drake University in Des Moines. After graduation, I worked as a technical translator, got married and moved to Chicago. I thought I was saying good-bye to Iowa, but Iowa was in my stars because two years later we moved to Ames where my husband got a faculty position at ISU. Iowa accepted me back and this time I promised myself it would become my home. I went back to school, received my PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication from ISU, and in 2007 started teaching at DMACC. Twenty-five years later, we are still in Ames; I am still with DMACC and loving it. Our daughter Lisa left us to go to school in New York, so now we have only children with tails living with us: two dogs and five cats—a happy and messy family.
I am not new to the DMACC London Study Abroad program. For seven years, I was the DMACC Study Abroad coordinator and in 2019, took a group of seventeen DMACC students to London. I truly enjoyed watching my students become experienced city dwellers and world travelers over a short period of two months. I know you will be the same. I am very much looking forward to spending two months with you in London learning and traveling together.
First of all, you can always call me Jeff! My first opportunity to travel and live overseas was on an academic-year exchange to the United Kingdom at Swansea University in Wales back in 1985. It opened a door for me that took me to a life that included living in Taiwan and Korea, a career in global logistics and now as a college professor with a focus on international courses. Since that door opening experience I have visited or worked in over 40 countries, including an annual trip to Belize for DMACC every May!
I am passionate about history, camping, canoeing and trekking. One of the cool things about the UK is you can hike nearly everywhere in the countryside, you just need to shut the gates so the sheep don’t get out! What will amaze you is the extent of antiquities, not just in the cities, but in the rural areas too. From prehistory to the Romans to the Normans, history is always present in the UK. My oldest son did his study abroad at the University of Manchester recently, and one of the tips I gave him was to look at the train or bus schedule outbound from the university for trips from one to two hours. Find a town or village, do some research, and go spend the day there on a walk-about, eat at the local pub and meet people, just a bit off the beaten track! It is going to be a great trip, and I hope you are able to go with us to London 2024!