Whether it’s best options for traversing Russia on multi-day train journeys or how the priceless treasures of Russia’s biggest museum were hidden during WWII – TU alum Alex Garoffolo has the answers. That’s because Garoffolo had three extended stays in Russia in 2016-2019 that, bolstered by a natural curiosity, allowed him to get to know the country down to nuance.
TU’s Russian Club invited Alex to dish about his travels abroad to the TU community, especially to those who are currently learning the language. Alex spoke of trips ranging from Moscow to Tatarstan, from Baikal to the Arctic Circle. His personal map is as dotted with visited cities and landmarks as a Christmas tree with lights. Of 11 cities that hosted the matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, for example, Alex had been to 8 (although not during the tournament).
Garoffolo is among the most “decorated” study abroad participants TU has seen. A double major in Russian Studies and Finance, Alex first took a semester abroad in St. Petersburg in Fall ’16. Right after graduating from TU in Spring ‘18, he beat the odds of dozens of applicants per slot and was one of 20 students selected for the Fulbright-Hays “Siberia by Southwest” program in summer 2018. He followed up with an even more prestigious Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistant (ELTA) posting to Ul’yanovsk, Russia, in AY 2018-2019. “The Fulbright honed in on what I really want to do right now — help our two countries get closer together,” said Garoffolo before his trip in 2018. And he felt that his study of Russian at TU equipped him well to do so.
Alex’s globetrotting has gone far and wide outside of Russia as well. An Eagle Scout with a reliable thirst for exploration, he has visited Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. “Landlocked” within the U.S. during COVID, Alex traveled extensively around the Upper Great Plains, numerous national parks of the West, upstate New York, and Maine.
As evident in photos, Alex brings a tidbit of TU with him wherever he goes. Check out the medley of shots while wearing a TUTV t-shirt! The only question is: where is his “I survived Siberia!” swag??
By Olga Randolph, Adjunct Instructor, Russian Language.