Studying abroad in Russia? 4 Tips to Help you Adjust

| 10/09/2012 | 6 Comments

Admittedly, studying abroad in Russia is not really the first choice that most students make. I happened to end up in the Motherland entirely by accident. When I was a freshman in college, I wanted to take a foreign language class that wasn’t Spanish, since I had lived for years in Mexico and knew the language fluently. I wanted to take German, but all the classes were full. So I settled for Russian instead, and, two years later, decided to test out my language skills by studying abroad in Russia. If you’re considering studying abroad but haven’t decided where yet, I high recommend Russia. Still, it’s not the easiest place to adjust to, but the challenge makes the experience all the more rewarding. Here are a few adjustments tips from someone who’s been there, done that.

  1. Russians don’t wear extremely heavy clothing. Layering is essential.

Personally, having lived in Texas or Mexico most of my life, I had no experience with cold, snowy weather. As such, my parents and I over-packed with very heavy coats and what was essentially ski gear. This was a big mistake. You see, in Russia, it’s freezing outside. Inside, the heating system is suffocating. Everyone in Russia wears thinner but multiple layers, with a warm coat on top. As soon as you step inside, you can strip down appropriately and be comfortable.

  1. Carry your papers with you at all times.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest social problems in Russia is police corruption and brutality. As a foreigner (especially if you look “foreign,” a.k.a not white), you can be stopped at any time by Russian police for whatever reason. When you go through your student visa process, you’ll be given several papers that you will be told to carry with you at all times. This isn’t a joke. If you don’t have your papers, police can fine you heavily or even take you to jail if they feel like it.

  1. Don’t mistake typical Russian aloofness for coldness. They are really one of the warmest, friendliest cultures you’ll ever encounter.

When I first arrived in Russia, it seemed to me and my American classmates that Russians were emotionally cold and unfriendly. This is really not the case, though it may appear so at first. Once you open yourself, become friendly, and try to meet them half way, they welcome you into their lives and their homes as though you were family. Though many Russians I met were aloof in the beginning, I made some incredible friends whom I still talk to ten years later.

  1. Don’t let the bureaucracy get you down.

Though every country has its own set of bureaucratic rules and ways of getting things done, I do feel as though Russians take it to the next level. I once left my bank card in an ATM machine. Millions of phone calls later, I knew which bank was holding it—one on the opposite side of St. Petersburg where I was living. After two hours of subway rides, walking miles in the snow, I arrived at the bank an hour before closing time. I was asked to wait in one room, before taken to another, before taken to another. Finally, I met the woman who had my card. She told me since it was five minutes to closing time, I had to wait till tomorrow. This was one of the most disheartening experiences I had in Russia, and occasions like this were common for my friends and I. But after a while, you learn to anticipate these types of inefficiencies, and it becomes a good story later on, so be patient!

Studying and living in Russia for six months was really one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I got to improve my language skills, make great friends, and learn about the country’s incredible history and culture. If you haven’t decided where to study abroad, give Russia a chance. Good luck!

Melissa Miller is a freelance writer and blogger whose specific area of expertise is higher education. In particular, she enjoys writing about student life, entrepreneurship, social media, career advice, and more.

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Category: study abroad, tips and tricks

Comments (6)

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  1. myy says:

    thing: the decision is only the beginning of a thing. When a person makes a decision, in fact, he will go down in the body into a huge flood, the flood will take him to a decision at the time he never imagined a place “When I decided to go looking for I treasure, never imagined would be working in a crystal shop. “the boy thought for confirm his inference. Similarly, you can join the caravan is a decision I have made, but I will bring to the http://www.toms– caravan where will always be a mystery in front of him, there are also Europeans read a book. This person indifference, when he came in he looked at him scornfully. They could have become good friends, that the Europeans can terminate the conversation the boy closed the book, he did not want to do anything that people think he and Europeans similar things. He took out his pocket http://www.oakley– the Urim and Thummim, people’s well-being, and give them a little more respect, a little more room, I believe that your friendly nature of the people will be able to exchange for a gentle fragrance. Man, to learn respectful and humble, with people, not easy to hurt anyone. A real meaning people, is never so self-righteous, seeking only their feelings in front of others abrupt aggressive, assertive and even blind head domineering! His cultivation will tell him what is appropriate retreat, brave moment, I can not be brave; courageous moderate, is a graceful, courageous if excessive, it appears arrogant.Life is like a station, gathering dispersed; yesterday, like a landscape, saw blurred; time is like a passing, remember the forgotten; life is like a funnel, has been He lost; friendship, like a banquet table, warm up the cold. And love is a kind of helpless, the heart will be pain; heartbreak, evolved into an attitude, indulgence convergence; life is a calm, cried laughed.Life, sometimes need to precipitation, but also need experience. Have enough time to reflect, but also has enough experience to grow, so as to allow yourself to become more perfect, more wise, more mature indifferent charm. The face of things, when you are no longer eager to deny error, you first learned an important lesson. Man to dare to dare, can be beneficial to himself, but to detract from him! The best in life is a pure good heart, honest. Do more, we shall have less; not complain, often smiling; not greedy, understand contentment!Does not float is not dry, do not fight do not rob, do not care about flashy things, not to care despicable person! Never let yourself get lost in someone else’s words Fun Fun language, because no one can have a cute flower blooming invincible charm, it is not necessary because a person can easily change their word, insist on doing their own before It is unique!Through the years, there is always successful, there is always incomplete; ever desire, always burning, always in expansion; the original dream, always burst, always far away. I love hearts, always worried, always thinking about ……Life is a one-way trip to the car, the best thing to do is to treat yourself well, cherish today, looking forward to tomorrow. Those who walked, miss, have not come back; lost, and lost, are not complex ownership. So we do not go in a hurry, the love to Love; the left, and to retain good faith; to fully experience the feelings, to cherish the treasure. Under remember

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