"I arrived at my study of Russian through the kindness of Lilia Safyanovna, who allowed me to sit in on her already-full RUSS 101 class on my first day as a UVA student. I had always been fascinated with Soviet-era history and politics, and wanted to explore the language. Little did I know it would grow to be the most beautiful, intriguing, frustratingly complex, and mystical subject I've ever studied. The incredible first-hand experience of the faculty and staff, along with their unending willingness to engage with and help their students, has opened a rich new world for me to explore. These past few years in the Slavic Department have transformed my study of Russian language, history, politics, literature, culture, and so much more from a simple hobby into one of my most fulfilling passions."