WHERE IS HOME?: ABOUT MY STORY WITH MILA

Mila Iushkova hugging the Russian flag at Wartburg College. (Submitted Photo)

LURA AJDINITRUMPET CULTURE & DIVERSITY WRITER

Mila Iushkova is a first-year Wartburg Student from Mykop, Russia. She is an alumni of the United World College (UWC) program in Dilijan, Armenia, and is majoring in Journalism and Communication. In her story, she talks about two of her major experiences in life, her acceptance to the UWC Program and her journey to Wartburg.

From Mila: I was born in a small city. My city is surrounded by mountains and is two hours away from the beach, it is a very nice location. The name of my city is Mykop and actually next to it there’s another big city called Sochi. I really like Sochi because it’s the place of the Winter Olympics of 2014. I usually go there with my friends to do Snowboarding.

My story starts like this, in 2018 I had to prepare for my final exams in high school and I had to find an adviser/teacher who would be able to help me in my English exam. When I found the teacher, she told me to try to apply to a United World College. She explained everything to me and I really liked it, so I decided to apply. I was really scared and each round that I passed, I thought I was going to fail and not be able to get to the other stage. Each step of the way, I used to receive emails from the National Committee telling me to prepare for the next stage, I was very excited and thought it was easy. After the final step, the National Committee told me that I’m on the waiting list and I got upset because everything before was easy and I wasn’t prepared for this.

For the entire summer, they didn’t inform me about anything, however in the beginning of August they told me that I got accepted to UWC Dilijan in Armenia and I was like “that’s great” but I needed to be in another country in 25 days. I started preparing for Armenia and I didn’t know what to take with me. I didn’t expect anything and I didn’t know how it was going to be.

So I packed my luggage and flew to Armenia. I really liked the people in Armenia, they spoke Russian, so I could communicate. However, in the first month I was telling my friends back in Russia that I was going to come back, because I didn’t like it there.

I couldn’t speak English well, but back in Russia I thought my English was very good. I even thought I was kind of like a professional at speaking English, but when I faced people whose mother tongue was English and they had very pretty accents, I was like no that is not for me because I don’t speak English nicely. I was scared to make a grammar mistake every time I spoke. I struggled with English in my first month. Every Time I communicated with people I used google translate, but then classes started and everything was fine, I actually liked English.

I’m very grateful I went to UWC and studied there. At the end of my second year, a representative of Wartburg College came to my UWC. As I was signing up for interviews, the representative approached me and I realized “Why didn’t I sign up for an interview about Wartburg College?” So the representative explained everything to me and I ended up liking the college. Especially the journalism and communication department. I really liked how professors were very involved in their areas and how they taught based on their experience. Therefore, I decided to go to Wartburg College with my Davis Scholarship that was offered to me from completing UWC.

“In Russia we have birds on trees, and in Iowa we have squirrels on them.”

Mila’s Mom

I was very excited to come to the U.S. First, I always wanted to be a journalist, my dream came true when I arrived at Wartburg College because now I’m majoring in Journalism and Communication. The trip to Wartburg was very long because it took me two days, and I had to wait in an airport in London for the whole day. I couldn’t move anywhere because I had a really big bag with me and I didn’t want to ask anyone for help, because I didn’t really understand the British accent.

When I arrived here, it was too dark. I was trying to figure out where the college was, I saw two trees, one building around and nothing else. When everybody asked me why I chose Wartburg, I say that I just felt like it was a place I had known for a long time and in which I was sure that if I would go there, I would feel like it was the right place, It is my place.

Everyone asked me why I decided to come to Iowa and I always answered that I actually didn’t think a state could be so flat. I’m snowboarding and there are no mountains here. Where are the mountains? I was surprised that there were so many squirrels, I really like them. My mom always joked about how “in Russia we have birds on trees, and in Iowa we have squirrels on them.”

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