For Niurguiana Lukovtceva, a double major in business administration and accounting, her difficulties were increased twofold last semester as she was enrolled at the University of Alaska Anchorage and online at Technical University of Moscow.
“In May, last year, I got a letter from UAA saying like, ‘Congratulations, you’re attending UAA!’ I was so happy for this,” Lukovtceva said. Growing up in Siberian Russia, she had been fascinated with life in America.
“If I have an opportunity like that, if my parents helped me with financial aid… It was a huge decision for me,” Lukovtceva said. “My uncle told me about the program, UAA, in Alaska – in America! It’s kind of a different part of the world, and I was interested.”
Her excitement about coming to UAA wasn’t deterred by the tasks she needed to do to come here, no matter how challenging they were.
“Half a year I was preparing for this, because of exams for English and a visa. It was kind of hard, and really tough,” Lukovteceva said.
Because she wasn’t just attending college for the first time, but also a college in a different country, her father suggested a backup plan just in case her plans at UAA didn’t work out.
“He told me, ‘You can go to the Russian University.’ There’s distance education, no attendance, just on a computer online. You can speak to a professor through Skype, it was really good,” Lukovteceva said. “It’s really cheap, this distance education. It’s really cheap in Russia.”
For her first semester in college, Lukovtceva faced many obstacles, especially juggling between the Russian education system and the American education system.
“It was really hard for the first semester when I came because the education system in America is so different, starting with grades and then finals week,” Lukovtceva said.
The overall semester in Russia is longer, as it usually lasts about five to six months rather than 15 weeks. Furthermore, finals week is expanded into a month of exams and tests. Last semester, Lukovtceva was taking a total of 14 classes: nine online through Russia and five at UAA.
“This was necessary. We can’t pick the classes, like ‘I want this, this and this.’ There’s classes you have to take,” Lukovtceva said.
Technical University of Moscow allows an online education similar to the UAA system by also using Blackboard. However, the choices of a major are limited, and certain classes are required to pass to advance to a sophomore status.
“The first two months was kind of easy for me,” Lukovtceva said. “Weekends were free, and that’s how I got organization, like time management skills. The first part of the week, I was in UAA and the second I was in Russia.”
However, the routine became exhausting. On top of her studies, she was experiencing social difficulties as well.
“First of all, language. When I came here, I was scared about this because my English skills were so bad,” Lukovtceva said. “I can write grammar, easy, but talking with each other was tough for me. And with teachers, it was awful the first time.”
Lukovtceva decided to take a break from the classes in Russia for the spring semester of 2017. She realized she wasn’t enjoying her experience in Alaska enough because of her workload, and that taking classes at UAA would allow her to breathe.
Lukovtceva still doesn’t know what’s to come, but she has high hopes about the future.
“I love everything in UAA,” Lukovtceva said.
She hopes to join clubs and be more involved in her Alaskan experience by the next semester.