Adventures in Irkutsk! August 03, 2019

By (Kenyon College) - abroad from 01/07/2019 to 04/27/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot of Russian, which was my main goal. I also got to know another culture and heard a different perspective on history and world events than I had ever heard before. Yes, it was 100% worthwhile!

Review Photos

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk Photo Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk Photo Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk Photo Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk Photo Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Irkutsk program coordinator, Ilya Ipatov, is always very enthusiastic and kind. He organized lots of trips and was always available to help with problems.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family and it was great.

* Food:

My host family cooked and were very accommodating of my vegetarian diet (which can be tricky in Irkutsk).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I spent most of my time with other American students and I would have liked to spend more time with Russians. Taking a mainstream class at the university helped me meet other Russian students, but I wish I had been able to take more classes like this.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any healthcare issues, but we all had to get encephalitis vaccines while we were there and the process was efficient and reimbursed by the program.

* Safety:

I felt safe.

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

I think I chose the best program! I am so glad I decided to go to Irkutsk because it is a smaller city that I could get around easily and it is not far from Baikal, which meant I got to go on amazing field trips.


* 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)

Irkutsk is less expensive than the U.S., but I spent more than I expected in cafes where I did homework. Even so, this was not too much.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$10
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Always carry your Irkutsk student ID with you and if you go to any kind of museum, ask if there is a student discount because there usually is and you just have to show your ID.


* 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

There was a language pledge and we all promised to only speak Russian to one another at all times.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Russian
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Before you go, try to pay attention to a few phrases that you use most in school or on public transportation or at home, and then learn these phrases in Russian. While abroad, just be brave and speak Russian all the time, even when you don't make much sense and can't say exactly what you want to say. Try to think and narrate your activities in your head in Russian.

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Language pledge
  • Trips to Baikal
  • Living with a host family
* What could be improved?
  • Access to mainstream courses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known to push harder at the very beginning of the semester to get into a mainstream course so I could start it on time.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Ecological Issues and NGOs of the Baikal Region

Course Department:
Instructor: Аня and Максим
Instruction Language: Russian
Comments: This course was my favorite one! The homework was always very helpful and relevant, but manageable. We went on awesome field trips to Baikal and surrounding areas. Both teachers were amazingly knowledgeable and kind.
Credit Transfer Issues: