An Amazing Adeventure Past Review

By (Russian Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/31/2014 to 05/18/2014 with

CIEE: St. Petersburg - Russian Language

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile! I got to experience a whole new culture, meet new people, speak a beautiful language! It completely changed my outlook on life. I loved absolutely everything about the city. I now plan to return to St. Petersburg upon graduation from Brandeis, in order to study and receive my master's degree in Russian studies!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses were not challenging enough.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was very helpful and friendly. I experienced no real problems with them -- perhaps the only minor issue was that information about weekend trips, etc. was not given to the students soon enough.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a wonderful host family!

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program provided many programs for the students to get together with locals -- activities like trivia nights and game nights, for example. They program staff told us about interesting events taking place in the city and encouraged us to go out and explore it as much as possible.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* 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)

Many expenses were optional, like eating out at a restaurant, or going out with friends, but it was difficult to maintain a budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $200/week


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

The language was used in courses, but the program staff were not insistent on us speaking Russian to them, we were able to communicate in English. This is helpful at first, when we were all nervous about the new country, but it would have been beneficial had they insisted on Russian during the last couple months of the program.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Russian 40
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? The language aspect isn't learned in class. You need to go out into the city and meet locals and use the language as much as possible. It was also very easy to fall into the trap of spending time with the other American students and conversing in English. To better your language skills, focus on speaking the new language, no matter who you are with.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The excursions
  • The program staff was amazing!
* What could be improved?
  • Delivering information to the students in a more timely fashion
  • Encouraging students to speak the language within the program/with other American students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that the courses would not be a major part of learning the language -- then I could I have focused more on meeting locals and using the language as much as possible.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'