Ever since the Soviet Union dissolved some decades ago, Eastern Europe and Russia have been gradually building up their economies and infrastructure to compete once again with the West. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the region is just how little it interacted with the rest of the world from behind the Iron curtain. Today, individuals who study abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia will find the region to be an exhilarating and fascinating place to study abroad – rich in history, challenging academically, and globalizing rapidly.
Russia is an extremely interesting place to study abroad. The former communist superpower has had a long-winding and tumultuous history which has gradually manifested in its controversial global position today. Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s two largest cities, and each feature prominent universities where you can receive a high quality education. Many study abroad programs in Russia also have their own educational institutions within the city.
The Baltic states in the north including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are another region with a fascinating history and thriving contemporary culture within Eastern Europe. As are the caucuses to the south, including Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. These countries all have strong, unique cultural identities, within the regional context, and present an intriguing alternative choice for those interested studying abroad off the beaten path.
Toward Central Europe lies countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. These former Soviet States had bounced back impressively from the communist era and today are considerable emerging powers on the European continent. Cities such as Prague, Budapest, and Krakow are all exciting and popular study abroad destinations for students from across the world.
These are just examples of some of the possible locations in which to study abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia, but this region of the world is very largely diverse, and there are many promising destinations you can study abroad in outside those listed above. Research thoroughly the different countries, cities, and programs available to find the one that best fits your interests, academics, and other needs.
Courses & Programs
It is possible to study in Eastern Europe and Russia in virtually any discipline. But whatever your field of academic study, consider taking advantage of your surroundings and enrolling in some courses about the political history, culture, art, and other aspects of your location. The cities themselves are always the best teachers, but what you learn in the classroom can shed valuable and fascinating light on your surroundings too.
Many study abroad programs in Eastern Europe or Russia will either place you at a private learning institution or give you the opportunity to enroll in a local university. Attending a university will immerse you in the local student population and give you the opportunity to study your discipline of choice in a foreign context, but this route can also be challenging because of the frequent language barrier. If you do not plan on learning the local language as part of your study abroad experience, then the smaller international institutions with English language instruction can be a great alternative.
Students can study abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia in the summer, fall, or spring or for an entire academic year. Scheduling conflicts between home universities and your study abroad destination can often present a challenge, so communicate with your study abroad program provider and academic department to figure out the best timing for your academic adventure.
Scholarships & Costs
Eastern Europe is generally cheaper than Western Europe, so you will also be able to save a decent amount of money by studying abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia. Still, life in the big cities, such as Prague and Moscow, can be quite expensive, so it is important to have a budget plan in mind before you go and stick to it while abroad. If you are worried about the costs of studying in Eastern Europe than talk to your home university about their policies for rolling over financial aid.
Accommodations & Visas
You can generally expect to live in a homestay, individual apartment, or student dormitories while studying in Russia or Eastern Europe. Each housing situation comes with its pros and cons, and it really comes down to what you want personally out of your study abroad experience. Homestays are a great way to build a lasting bond with your local host family, living in an apartment is great for a more autonomous lifestyle, and living in student dormitories is the best way to engage with the local student population. Research your options carefully before deciding which option feels right for you.
You also may need a visa to study abroad in Eastern Europe, depending on where you go and for how long you plan to stay. Your program provider will typically inform you what kind of visa you need and help you through the process for obtaining a visa. In general, countries which are within the European Union are more lax with their visa policies than those outside of this sphere.
Benefits & Challenges
Eastern Europe, and Russia, is an incredibly interesting region of the world to study abroad in. With many distinct sub-cultures and fascinating histories, the most challenging part will be deciding on where to study abroad. Regardless of where you end up and what you study, the experience of studying abroad itself is immensely rewarding as you dive out into the world and experience life in a different cultural context. Eastern Europe is developing rapidly in the post communist era and remains a relatively untapped destination for many world travellers - study abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia to become part of the movement.