Georgia on My Mind

Hello! Hola! Привет! 안녕하세요!

My name is Hannah Faulkner and I am a rising fourth-year student (where has the time gone?!) here at the University of Pittsburgh. Coming from a small town in North Texas, I credit foreign language classes and cross-cultural education as the impetus for the expansion of my worldview and the kindling of a lifelong passion for language learning, area studies, and cultural and diplomatic exchange. Throughout my academic career I have sought to synthesize my affinity for conjugating verbs with a desire to further my understanding of the complicated and multifaceted Eastern European, Central, and East Asian regions. In particular I am interested in cybersecurity, intellectual property issues, regional security studies, and international business law. I am majoring in Russian and double minoring in Korean and Administration of Justice. Additionally, I am pursuing certificates in Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies and Asian Studies. 

When I don’t have my nose in a book or a Quizlet vocabulary set, I love to cook, embroider, and cafe-hop. I have to say that while accessing better recipes from around the world is not my only motivation to study foreign languages, it sure does help. I definitely plan to take advantage of my love of cooking (and eating) to build relationships and break the ice while I am abroad in Batumi, Georgia this summer. It’s a bit farther than the Georgia that Ray Charles sang about, but I am excited nonetheless.

To me, the corners of the world fold together at the kitchen table. I truly believe that food is a magical tool that can bring people from opposite continents together for fellowship and understanding. Throughout my blog posts this summer I will be exploring one of my favorite concepts: the idea of sobremesa. Sobremesa embodies the time as a meal winds down when everyone leans back a bit in their chair, puts down their fork, smiles wider, and begins to talk. These conversations are different than what you talk about during the meal itself. Like the upcoming dessert, these conversations are richer, warmer, and coated in sweet emotion. 

My program in Batumi, Georgia is an intensive Russian language program where I will continue to train my Russian language skills and complete research for my Russian major capstone thesis project. When I studied in Russia almost five years ago, I received my first exposure to Georgian food and culture through my host family who would regularly spend time in the Caucuses and loved to make Georgian food on the weekends at the summer house. Traveling to Georgia, after my time in Russia, made it to the top of my bucket list. But returning to Russia always took precedent in my travel plans. However, life (…and global pandemics… and international wars…) happen and my initial plans to travel to Russia quickly changed to Batumi, Georgia. 

Georgia is a country full of rich history, cultural tradition, and lots of opportunity for sobremesa. My language program in Batumi developed serendipitously and I can’t wait to take advantage of all that this city on the Black Sea has to offer. I plan to (finally) master Russian verbs of motion, research modern Georgian identity in the aftermath of imperial influence, globalization, and security aspirations with Europe, and simply build new relationships and kindle the spirit of citizen diplomacy. 

I hope that you are excited to follow along with my journey this summer! I am excited to share not only the highlights of my experience, but also the challenges and obstacles of living and studying abroad. 

До встречи! ნახვამდის! 


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