Though my name is Ivan I was actually born to two native Missourians in an old slave house in Lexington, Kentucky. Eight months later my family uprooted me, relocating to the rolling cornfields of Indiana. There, with an excess of time and little to do, I became interested in literature, particularly Russian literature, as well as in writing. In college, along with English, I majored in Russian and in 2000 did a semester abroad in Moscow. Over the past year I've held two jobs, one as a fact checker at a city magazine and the other as a desk assistant at a television news program. Although both were good experiences, neither, unsurprisingly, allowed me the opportunity to utilize my predominantly non-utilitarian courses of study. The Fulbright grant, thankfully, does. And so now I'm able to return to this land and culture that has occupied my thoughts for many years and to explore more deeply how people there live their lives. Hopefully, along the way, I will get a better sense of how to live my own (while at the same time producing an account of my travels that will earn me millions!).