Study in Russia, It's an Excellent Investment! Past Review

By (Russian Studies, University of California - Los Angeles) for

CIEE: St. Petersburg - Summer Russian Language

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Going abroad to Russia greatly increased my Russian language skills. I believe that studying abroad is far more effective at learning a language and developing cultural understanding than participating in any domestic language programs. Since returning to America, I have continued to study Russian language and culture, but with more direction and excitement. I plan on returning to Russia for a semester abroad very soon and possibly getting my Master's degree in Russian Language and Culture.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: St. Petersburg State University
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 workload was great. Not too much homework, and class participation and attendance were most important. The teaching method focused on exclusively Russian language lectures for all levels of speaking ability and all types of courses. The teachers were very sweet and caring. The small class sizes allowed for lots of personal attention. We had courses in Phonetics, Conversation, Music, Film, Modern Media, and more.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everything was perfect! The class sizes, the group size, the support services, everything! Every expectation was met and I had no issues. It was a wonderful experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in the center of the city with a host family. It was the most rewarding aspect of my trip abroad. It was there, that I learned the most about Russian language and culture. I was close to the nightlife, the neighborhood was quite safe and welcoming, and my home there was spectacular! It was so old and unique in style. My host family truly cared for me and always made me feel welcome as if I was a family member. We bought each other gifts at the beginning and end of the program, and I was welcomed to return to their home in the future. In order to settle-in, bring a laptop, Russian power-adapter, and unique cultural items from home. A T-shirt of your home city, nice candy or snacks make excellent gifts.

* Food:

The program utilized host families and all families accommodated any and all dietary restrictions. The quality and quantity of food was always perfect. My advice is to avoid American places and really dive into the culture. Try as many local and national Russian dishes while abroad.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Every week their are spectacular cultural excursions, including famous sites in St. Petersburg, a trip to Moscow, and the island of Valaam or the city of Novgorod. There are also many clubs and bars to explore as well.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Safety was never an issue. Any issues with safety within my program were the result of students acting irresponsibly or not paying attention to their surroundings. St. Petersburg is no more or less safe than any other American city. It has its good parts and its bad parts. Students will never visit or find themselves within uncomfortable situations or environments within St. Petersburg. Just remember that if you enjoy to party, drink responsibly and always travel in groups to avoid bad situations.

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?

We were encouraged to speak Russian all the time, but we were only policed when at the university or in our home stay out of respect to the local people. Among fellow Americans, it was easy to speak English more often than Russian, but most of the day, I found myself speaking Russian to order food, to use transportation, or talk to my host family. Not many Russians speak English which allows for almost full language immersion. My Russian really improved by the end of the trip.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Always bring more money than you plan on spending, you can never truly predict how much you will want or need to spend abroad. However, I would say this program is perfect for anyone that has not previously studied abroad to Russia before.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Advanced Russian Conversation

Course Department: UCLA Slavic Department - Russian 101
Instructor: Mikhael
Instruction Language: Russian
Comments: It was really helpful and informative.
Credit Transfer Issues: Always check with your home institution before taking a course abroad.