Semester in Siberia - a challenging but rewarding experience! Past Review

By (Brown University) - abroad from 09/01/2019 to 12/14/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Irkutsk

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My level of Russian grew an amazing amount - if you want to speak Russian at a high level Irkutsk is great because no one knows English. It was definitely a hard place to live due to the lower socio-economic level of most people, but an extremely worthwhile experience overall.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I would have appreciated living in a family or with other young people. I lived with a single grandmother and although she was nice it was not a particularly fun living experience.

* Food:

Russian food was great!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

All Russians in Irkutsk thought I was extremely weird so it was hard to integrate into the culture but this is not the program's fault.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The Russian health care system is terrible and I am lucky I never had to use it. Again, this was not the program's fault.

* Safety:

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

My program was great!


* 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)

Everything was inexpensive!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You don't need to try and save money because everything is already so cheap.


* 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

This was the best thing about the program - we all signed a language pledge and so we only spoke Russian (even among the Americans) the entire time.

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? Third Year 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? Don't break the language pledge!

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?
  • Learning Russian
  • Talking to Russians about Politics
  • Taking classes at a Russian university
* What could be improved?
  • The host family situation - almost everyone lived with a single grandma which was not fun
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? After the first month of immersion, your Russian will already be so much better so there is no need to freak out if the first few days are hard.

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.