Why not study in Russia?
A good reason to come to Russia for an extended
stay -- and essential to make the experience truly worthwhile
for long-term expatriates or regular visitors -- is to learn
the Russian language. Lessons are relatively inexpensive, and
the benefits immeasurable.
Cost varies depending on where your school
is located, how often you study, and what type of organization
you go through. As a minimum, expect to pay $65 a week, with
some institutes charging as much as $120. Private lessons, which
can be arranged through advertisements or personal contacts,
are approximately $10 an hour.
Many Russian universities offer preliminary
language study courses for people who want eventually to enroll
in regular university classes. Often there are separate language
programs affiliated with the university for those who want lessons
that are focused on essential verbal skills for day-to-day life,
rather than preparatory course work. In keeping with Russia's
emphasis on personal contacts when getting anything done, these
programs are easiest to get in touch with via a former student,
but it is possible through a liaison.
These are designed by and for foreigners, and
are likely to be the simplest option, especially for those arranging
the course from abroad. These organizations cater specifically
to first-time visitors, but be aware that the price will be
raised accordingly. The organization should take care of visas
and accommodation, and most will arrange airport pick up and
general orientation to your new location. They can make a first
trip to Russia substantially less confusing ‹ and by the
time you leave, you should know enough of the language to take
care of yourself.
As an alternative to commercial organizations,
universities with good Russian Studies departments usually have
well organized study-abroad programs in partnership with Russian
If a structured course program is not what
you are looking for, it is possible to find tutors who are more
flexible in terms of course content. Some tutors advertise directly
in newspapers (check the Classifieds section of The Moscow Times),
otherwise it tends to be word of mouth ‹ almost any foreigner
will know of someone who can recommend a teacher. Universities
are generally reluctant to give away names of the teachers who
work for them, so usually students start out in formal lessons
and then make some arrangements on their own for more study.
If conversation practice is what you want,
putting up an ad for language exchange on a university bulletin
board, or responding to an ad in one of the English newspapers
is a possibility. Many Russian students are eager to practice
with native English speakers, and interested applicants will
not be in short supply.