06/11/12 Mae Christiansen will be starting her senior year at Purdue University with a new appreciation for people from all over the world and their histories. After spending three weeks touring Helsinki, Finland and then traveling on to Russia and Estonia, Christiansen is beginning her senior year and majoring in history. She said, “History is people, and that’s why we can never know everything. History is much more that dates and places. It’s a beautiful web of experiences.”
She was traveling with ten other Purdue students and their professor Anatoli Rapoport. Rapoport was originally from the Ukraine, which used to be a part of the Soviet Union. He received his PhD Degree from Purdue and is now an assistant professor.
The group stayed in a hostel where they shared facilities with others from different countries. Even the students from Purdue in her group came from different backgrounds and interests, including some Chinese students in International Studies. She said they spent time comparing what they saw and learned as they toured cathedrals and museums as well as talking with people in the area. Christiansen wrote, “Everyone came on this trip for different reasons, and appreciated things to different degrees. I think it’s really an asset to take a trip like this rather than a liability though, because it never makes anyone grow to be around a bunch of people just like them.” She added, “It made me appreciate the cathedrals more because others didn’t as much. It also peaked my interest in military history, because others had backgrounds in that.”
As she was leaving Russia on June 1, she wrote,” It’s amazing how easy it is to communicate from one edge of the earth to another, but there are so many people and so many places and so many different cultures in the world.”
She was able to keep in contact with her mother, Melissa Christiansen, and grandmother, Marcia Caine, by using Skype a couple of times a week. Her friends and family were able to read her almost daily writings on her blogsite.
Referring to diverse cultures, she said, “Russian Culture seems very reserved, with sober faces on the streets and little extraneous conversation, but once you talk to a Russian, they want to talk for hours.” She added, “Even with the differences, Russians (and Estonians and Finns and everyone in the world for that matter,) just want to spend time with people they love, have fun, and not have anyone tell them to do otherwise. Is that global commonality or what?”
Christiansen will be back on the Purdue campus on August 1 to begin the marching band camp. Her sophomore year, she was chosen to march in the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City and has advanced to section leader. In addition to marching band, she participates in the Collegiate Band and Woman’s Pep Band.
For more of Christiansen’s experiences, visit her blogsite at: www.maeannchristiansen.blogspot.com.
Carol Anders Correspondent