Study Abroad in Russia Past Review


AIFS: St. Petersburg - Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: St. Petersburg Polytechnical State University
The term and year this program took place: Spring 2009

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Although the administrators were knowledgeable, they were not very accessible at all. They did the minimum required of their job, seemed disinterested in the welfare of their students, and served more as scolding parents (be there exactly on time, dont do this, this or this, etc) than anything. As soon (if not sooner) as 400 rolled around, they were out of the office.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Lived at IMOP in the academicheskaya area. It's an old place, facilities and amenities are in need of repair, but its quaint, and after a while you learn to love it in a twisted sort of way. The security is a bit overdone and seems like it interferes with student social life more than actually providing protection. Guards were often obviously drunk during after hours, which can be either funny or disconcerting, depending on how you look at it. <br /><br /> Neighborhood is relatively safe by Russian standards, although a fellow program participant was mugged and beat up by four hoodlums just a few blocks from our dorm. The area was pretty boring, there's some shopping, a McDonalds, a couple of expensive beer houses, and a 24/7 casino that i am positive is rigged (avoid black jack!) Its far from downtown (its like the brooklyn of st. petersburg)

* Food:

Good, quality food is expensive or not readily available in Russia (esp. produce). For my vegetarian friends, it was something of a nightmare. Was told to avoid street food (esp. meat) for health reasons, but I never had a problem, it was much more affordable compared to restaurants, and very tasty.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The nightlife is out of control. St. Petersburg never sleeps. Be prepared to learn to drink a lot if you want to keep up with Russian party goers. (If you dont drink its not a problem, but make sure you have an excuse...saying you just dont drink to a russian is not enough, and he/she will be offended and think yr weird) If you are an artist/literary/history/classical music type, then there is a wealth of cultural attractions to explore. Its really almost too much for one semester, I wished I had stayed the whole year.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Safety is always an issue in a big city, so just be aware of your surroundings and you will be fine. As far as health--given the weather and poor food quality you will inevitably get sick...just dont end up in the hospital. It was a nightmare for me, although my program was pretty good about assisting me and the facilities were nice since its a private clinic (not a state hospital). It was very expensive though.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Living is cheap if you make it that way. Eating out and clubbing excessively is expensive. Loaf of bread-less than $1, Pack of cigarettes-75 cents, beer- $1 for 40oz at store, $3 and up at a bar/restaurant. Big mac w/fries and drink- three-four bucks. Coffee is also expensive and generally pretty bad.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
Language acquisition improvement?

It is important to be prepared for the fact that very few people speak English well in Russia. In day to day activities, like going to the grocery store, a restaurant, or mall, speaking Russian, even if its at a very basic level (with lots of hand signals) is essential. Don't be intimidated by what at first appears to be unfriendly non-English speakers.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Russian Language Intermediate II

Course Department:
Instructor: Nina Mikhailovna Yankevich
Instruction Language: Russian
Comments: This class and professor were of really high quality. My professor was incredible. Very thoughtful, demanding but encouraging, and absolutely hilarious. My favorite teacher at any institution EVER. This class was a breath of fresh air in an academic program that is otherwise frustratingly not challenging.
Credit Transfer Issues: