From Russia With Love Past Review

By (Russian Language, Literature, Indiana University - Bloomington) - abroad from 09/05/2014 to 12/20/2014 with

CIEE: St. Petersburg - Russian Language

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
As I sat cross-legged in Pulkovo Airport, awaiting my return flight to Chicago, I meditated on my four months spent studying in Russia. I had mastered the two-hour metro commute, and I had memorized nine tongue-twisters that my host babushka regularly recited. I had forged friendships with fellow university students despite closed social networks, and even toasted my twenty-first birthday among these newfound comrades. While it was true that I was excited at the prospect of jetting home just in time to spend Christmas with my family, I was also torn by feelings of nostalgia and uncertainty. Happy at the prospect of a break from borsch, yet hesitant to return to a society founded on fake smiles and empty small talk, I remembered the wise words of Winston Churchill: "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." I've found that a little cultural compassion is all that it takes to crack the code.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* 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)


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 302
How many hours per day did you use the language?

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?
  • CIEE guided tours
  • Student unity despite different language levels
  • Fantastic blini!!!
* What could be improved?
  • Alternative break trip logistics
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Leave plenty of empty space in your suitcase for treasures that you'll find throughout your stay. Thoughtful Russian friends might give you gifts before your departure, and you'll want to make sure that you can bring them home!