I fell in love with the coldest, scariest place ever. September 30, 2019

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/07/2019 to 05/06/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I built a relationship with a very old woman who i love. and i spoke a ton of russian. and i learned to survive in a place that is nothing like my home.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classroom experience was definitely the least intense learning environment. Our courses at ISU were the easiest, very little was expected us

* 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

It was the only time I will ever get to go to Siberia and see Lake Baikal.


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 40 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat with your host mom.


* 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? 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? I had taken 2 300-level classes before going abroad.
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? SPEAK TO YOUR BABUSHKA!!!! They are weird and have many stories.

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
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • Host Family
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 opportunity to fully immerse myself in russian
  • Lake Baikal
  • My peers
* What could be improved?
  • Academics
  • More trips!
  • Academics
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? More russian.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Environmental Management

Course Department:
Instructor: (Not sure)
Instruction Language: Russian
Comments: I directly enrolled into the geography faculty at ISU. This was a terribly boring class and only met once a week. The professor never asked us to do anything besides read chapters out of the textbook he wrote which he would then read aloud in class. Not fun.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Russian Language and Grammar

Course Department:
Instructor: Екатерина Александровна Непомнящих
Instruction Language: RUSSIAN
Comments: Great class. Learned so much. Fantastic teacher, really taught what we needed AND wanted to learn, taught at our pace. AND it was challenging! but fun!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Siberia in International Relations

Course Department:
Instructor: Mikhail Rybalko
Instruction Language: Russian
Comments: Bad class. Didn't learn anything. Teacher talked down my peers because they didn't speak russian as well/were women. Not chill
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Environmental issues and NGOs of Baikal region

Course Department:
Instructor: Anna Ogorodnikova
Instruction Language: Russian
Comments: Fantastic class, use of location, and field trips around Lake Baikal. I actually learned so much about social movements in Siberia and the ecology of Lake Baikal. Really cool teachers with crazy life experience.
Credit Transfer Issues: