A while back I wrote a post about Why I am Studying in Russia and I promised to write a series of posts about my journey in Russia as a Black Womxn. This post is going to be the first of a series of posts about my adventure in Russia.
I want to get into the politics of living in Russia but before I get into that I realize that this is the time of year when people decide on study options. In this post I want to be pragmatic and pretty much discuss what you should consider before deciding on Russia.
I had my reasons for choosing Russia but finding material about what to think about when considering Russia as a study option was difficult. Below is a list of things I think anyone thinking about Russia as a study destination should consider.
- Field of Study and University
The first thing you should probably decide is what you want to study because this will affect which Universities in Russia you will apply to. Russia has several University models and once you’ve chosen a course and Universities where your choice is being offered it is important to check the teaching model, world ranking and Russian ranking of the universities that offer your chosen course before you even apply. You do not want to move all the way to Russia just to waste your time on a degree that will not be recognised outside Russia. Russia has plenty of Universities but their ranking, relevance in the world and standards differ and this will affect the value of your degree outside Russia so it is important to research the institutions you are considering before you apply.
- Language of Study:
Most Russian Universities (even the ones in Rural Russia) offer English Programs however these programs are limited. Your chosen University might not have your chosen course in English. You need to decide if you want to study only English or if you are willing to consider studying in Russian. Thousands of international students study in Russian, All Russian Universities offer a one-year intense Russian language study program that is meant to prepare you for an undergraduate or a post-graduate degree in Russian. You need to decide if you are willing to add an extra year to your studies to learn a Russian language or change your option to something that is being offered in English if you can not find your preferred degree in English at your chosen University.
Russia is massive and the different regions are very different. Once you’ve decided on your field of study, looked at all your university options and decided on a language and Region of Russia where you want to be the next important consideration should be whether you want to be in a large city or a small Town. Large cities offer a cosmopolitan lifestyle where you are able to; access entertainment options that any other large city around the world offers, a diversity of people and plenty of Tourist destinations that explore Russian History and culture. Russia’s main cities are St Petersburg and Moscow and both these cities are gorgeous but can also be expensive. I met a few people who had studied in Smaller Russian Towns before moving to St Petersburg (Where I chose to study) and although most of them preferred being in a larger city the general consensus was that; people are nicer in small towns, life is a lot cheaper and it is easier to get around. Both the Small Town and the large city option have advantages and disadvantages but ultimately it depends on your preference and you should think about this as you apply.
If you are going to study in Russia the first thing you should know is that a single room does not exist in Russia even at a PhD level. As a post-graduate student you might be lucky to be assigned to a double room where you don’t have a roommate but this rare. If you are an under-graduate student be prepared to share a room with 3 or 4 people. University dormitories are extremely affordable, you can sometimes pay as little as $20 a month for accommodation at a Russian university. The benefits of staying in a university dormitory include; Affordability, Easy access to the university, A Support system whenever you need help and having access to other foreign students going through the same thing you are experiencing. However The dormitory experience is not for everyone; strict curfew and visitor rules often apply and sharing a room is not ideal if you are a person who values privacy. I recommend always starting-off at the University dormitory and moving into an apartment only once you are settled. Finding an apartment in Russia can be tiresome especially if you do not speak the language and you do not want to be in an foreign environment alone as you settle into your studies . I might write a whole separate piece about finding an apartment because this is a whole process that requires a full post to explain.
Studying Abroad is expensive and as an international student your fees are higher than what the Locals pay (Which ranges from very little to nothing because higher education is highly subsidized in Russia). Several Options exist for paying your fees. The first is to pay them your-self if you or your family can afford for you to be a self-funded student. The second option is a country scholarship; Russia has many partnerships with African, South American and Asian governments and their offer scholarships to students from their partner countries. Do some research on the relationship between your country and Russia and find out if there are specific scholarships available for you. The Third option is the Russian Government scholarship; The Russian government awards scholarships for International students at the various universities, these are limited and each university will tell you how many their have available and how to qualify for this type of funding. There are generally more scholarship options available if you study in Russian for the university based state funding. The last funding option is to seek for either a local or international organisation or individual that funds study abroad programs, this is easier for post-grad students and very difficult if you are an undergraduate but not impossible. Sometimes specific University partnerships exist and this can have funding options available so if you are an Undergraduate find out if your current university has a partner in Russia.
I hope this post was informative, Please do feel free to comment with any questions that you have on this topic. I am going to follow up with an article about University Registration and Visa Requirements next week.