Yaroslavl--immersing yourself in the "real" Russia January 15, 2018

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/29/2017 to 12/15/2017 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Yaroslavl

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My favourite part about studying abroad were the different perspectives I got access to. I was able to speak with many Russians, and see how they live their lives and what they think about the world--I think it has made me a more open person!

Review Photos

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Yaroslavl Photo Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Yaroslavl Photo

Personal Information

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.

It wasn't really all that rigorous, but I wasn't taking classes with Russians, which would have been a level up. It's high individualised, and everyone there wants you to succeed and help with you.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

9/10--need to have independence, but if you ask for some help they will give it to you

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

9/10--housing was positive. I enjoyed living with my host, and was in a good location in the city, even if it was far from the university.

* Food:

9/10--I liked that we had so many meals with our host, but that we also had opportunities to buy our own food, and that this was generally flexible.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

6/10--it was difficult to make friends because we didn't have classes with Russian students, and because I was only there for the semester (again, somebody else's experience could have been completely different.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was sick, and everyone around me was very helpful and incredibly caring. The only thing is that you have to be proactive and independent in securing reimbursement from the insurance agency. Russian healthcare was bureaucratic, but WAY cheaper than what you would find in the U.S.; plus, there are pharmacies everywhere.

* Safety:

I felt really safe while in Yaroslavl--just use common sense and you'll be fine.

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

I would absolutely do the Midd. program again, and I would absolutely go back to Yaroslavl. I think it is the perfect location--a large enough city that there is always something going on and people to meet, but small enough that you can meet locals and they will actually want to talk with you. It's close enough to Moscow that travelling is not inconvenient, but far enough away that you get your own unique experience, and there aren't a bunch of people speaking English all around you.

Finances

* 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)

Things are much more affordable in Russia than they are in the States or in Western Europe

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Varied, but I probably $50 when in the city or less--really depends on how much you want to go out and spend on lunch. I found I could spend less than $3 and get a decent lunch!
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try business lunches--you can often get a lot of food for a great value! And be sure to use your student ID when going to museums--a lot of them offer discounts

Language

* 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

People take the language pledge seriously--if you're not going to, this is not the program for you! (Though there are exceptions, such as working with English clubs)

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? Russian 202d
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? Start incorporating Russian into your daily life before you go--reading the news, listening to music, watching movies...even doing a little bit every day will be better than starting cold! And start the pledge immediately--you may not be able to say much for a few weeks, but progress will come!

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

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Language pledge--language skills improve!
  • Location--living in one of Russia's oldest cities, but getting a modern experience at the same time
  • Schedule--we had consistent classes, but also lots of opportunity to travel!
* What could be improved?
  • Size--I only had one other student in Yaroslavl, which was sometimes difficult.
  • Helping students meet local students--telling them orgs to go to, or scheduling meet ups with other students. Some teachers did this, but half-way through the semester--it should happen at the beginning!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I should have started earlier trying to make friends with local people--I waited and travelled and then it was harder to make connections. Start right away meeting other students

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!