Living the City: St. Petersburg Past Review

By (English, University of California - Berkeley) for

CIEE: St. Petersburg - Summer Russian Language

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Generally, I think living in a place so unlike your own city and country is a healthy and necessary experience. It forces you to live outside your comfort zone, eat differently, speak differently, move differently. And for Russia in particular, I saw and experienced an entirely different socio-economic lifestyle. That alone helped me understand more about Russian as well as American culture. Living in Russia is bizarre, but it's something that helped me realize my love for traveling, language, and the City.

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was light, but being in back-to-back Russian classes was very tiring. Many of the instructors focuses on Russian speaking, rather than historical and culture information, which was a bit disappointing. Overall, the instructors were very considerate and understanding of our abilities as non-native speakers.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program was extremely organized and cohesive. Our leaders knew the city and Russia very well, and everyone was incredibly accessible. However, it was overbearing at times. For instance, our excursions always set us up with a tour guide and only gave us a limited amount of time to explore on our own.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

Russian food is pretty bland, and I really like to eat a wide variety of foods and flavors, so it was hard to adjust. However, my host mom was great and very accommodating. Just be prepared to eat a lot, if you have a host mom. She will not let you eat a normal sized portion.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I enjoyed all our excursions, but I had a great time exploring the city on my own and with friends. We wanted to see more than just the main tourist spots, so we found various local art museums, hang outs, and bars.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The program thoroughly advised us on what to do if we got sick or felt unsafe. Personally, I got sick with a cold twice, but with cough drops, rest, and my host mom's care, I recovered just fine. I definitely recommend bringing your own medicine because it's difficult to figure out what medicine to buy in Russia.

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
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

With my host mom, her brother, and my instructors. No one really spoke English in the city, so you had to use Russian anytime you purchased something, wanted directions, needed help, etc.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • My host family
  • Making new friends
  • Learning about the city of St. Petersburg
* What could be improved?
  • The style of the excursions (i.e. how long, the use of guides, etc.)
  • More trips outside of the city