European University at St. Petersburghttp://www.eu.spb.ru/international
3 Gagaringskaya St St. Petersburg, 191187 Russia
There is nothing quite like leaving your dormitory, with it's 19th-century facade, and walking down the street every morning for "sirniki" and "chai" and then grabbing your "Rossiiskaia Gazeta" and running off to take classes on Russian history and culture in a marble palace! Nor is there anything quite like walking along the Neva river in the early hours of the morning with the sun only just below the horizon, while watching street performers, live music and watching the majesty of St. Petersburg's draw bridges as they open up for nightly boat traffic. That is how I spent last July; and it was every bit as wonderful as it sounds. The city is a magical place that you really have to see to believe -- pictures in text books don't do to the city's beautiful architecture, its canals and the quaint bridges that cross them, nor its quintessential character any justice. Moreover the university is great! Classes at EUSPb are taught by highly competent and respected Russian scholars who are dedicated to their vocation. The program administrators were also beyond helpful in coordinating events and helping my "teammates" and I choose, not what to do, but what to do FIRST! St. Petersburg is a fantastic city that should be on everyone's list of "Places to Go" and if you have the opportunity, the European University Summer School is an affordable, academic and exciting way to do it.
For those seriously interested in studying Russia in a broad perspective of social sciences and humanities and in being there to experience (urban) Russian life themselves, the European University at St. Petersburg is a great place to go and do exactly that. While those already proficient in the Russian language can choose from a variety of classes taught in Russian, those less advanced can take 10 hours of Russian at three levels a week (beginner to advanced levels) plus elect courses offered in the International MAsters in Russian Studies Program where classes are taught in English. For the most part, professors are young and dedicated with a very good academic background. Most have Ph.D.s from top Western European or North American universities and teaching experience in the west. In addition to that, an American professor with a focus on Russia is visiting each semester. The national library in the city offers unique resources open to EUSP students. I definitely recommend staying for a full academic year and completing the IMARS program, because in this fashion one can gain the most insight into Russian studies and hope to maintain contacts in this stunning city (architecture, opera, ballet, museums, restaurants, nightlife, etc.) afterwards. From my experience I can also tell that students completing the IMARS program tend to be the most dedicated and form a close group during the year. Most students come from the US, Finland, Britain and Germany and overall some 7 or 8 nations are usually represented in each class. Graduate students doing research not specifically linked to St. Petersburg might find the perspective too broad or the school too small and miss the resources a top western university can offer. Yet in this small university one no doubt can find some of the best and most dynamic teachers in Russia along with excellent students from all over Russia and the CIS countries in the masters and ph.D. programs, most of whom have won grants to study there for their academic performance. Furthermore, the European University St. Petersburg is exceptional in the Russian landscape of higher education in that it is a private, non-state institution of world class research and teaching that is fully integrated in the international academic community. This status makes it much more independent from the Russian government than many state schools. During the year at EUSP I have gained a great deal of knowledge and improved my judgement of not just Russia, but theoretical thought and sociology (to name only two areas) in general. After my year at IMARS, I was very comfortable speaking Russian next to fluently and with only a slight accent. Today I am fluent in Russian and thanks to my in depth knowledge of Russia has furthered my business career and has taken me to live and work extensively in Moscow and London as well as travel to Ukraine and the Baltic countries on business on a regular basis. Andrej F. Novak, M.A. (Russian Studies), IMARS class of 2002
I have participated in several summer and semester study abroad programs. My experience during EUSP's inaugural summer program was the best. My program included students from various countries, academic levels, and interests. Additionally, the group's small size made getting to know other students and professors easy. Our dorm was actually an old apartment building that made organizing social events fun and easy. In fact, many nights we would just hang out together in the dorm rather than go out. When you do go out though, you will find that there's no other city in the summer like St. Petersburg. I highly recommend this program and will be happy to answer more specific questions you might have. Jay Forester
I participated in the IMARES program of the European University at St. Petersburg during the academic year 2009/10. I consider the period one of great challenges both academically and personally, but ones that bore great fruit. Acclimatising to the new and strange environment was tough initially, but greatly eased by the wonderful group of classmates coming from around the world, with varying experiences of the country and the city. The university provided multiple events to foster interaction between the students, and this was very helpful in creating a positive group identity and fellowship that would prove extremely helpful during the more difficult periods of study. Even with its relatively small size, the group left me with many friends that I will strive to keep in touch with in the future. Academically, the time spent was more than worth it. The variety of different subjects within the topic area that the relatively small academic staff was able to offer was simply astounding. Furthermore, the variety was also coupled with great quality, as some of the teachers I was able to study under in EUSP rank among the best I've encountered. Beyond being challenged intellectually and learning a great deal of new information and mental tools, the period of studying had a further and much more fundamental effect. Studying organized crime under Professor Vadim Volkov redefined my academic interests to that field and inspired me to seriously consider an academic career - something I had given very little thought during my Bachelor's degree. Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with the year spent studying in EUSP. I'm also very grateful to the KONE foundation for providing me the means to attend the university, which would have otherwise been impossible due to the inability to pay tuition fees. Beyond paying the tuition, the monthly installment allowed me to concentrate on the studies rather than simple sustenance, which had a clearly positive effect on the outcome of my studies. I would happily recommend the program for anyone who is interested in Russia and willing to study hard for a year.