The capital of the world’s largest nation and the heart of the former Soviet empire, Moscow is a historical powerhouse kicking with new life. From colorful Orthodox cathedrals and ballets at the Bolshoi Theatre to understated art galleries and backwater pubs, this communist center is heaving with culture. While studying abroad in Moscow, students can expect pop-up ping-pong tournaments in the park, classical concerts, and retro clubs, where Russian and international students mix and mingle.
Popular Ways to Study Abroad in Moscow
Studying in Moscow offers a smorgasbord of options for international students. Whether you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track art institute or a major scientific research university, you’ll find it in Russia’s capital city.
Popular subjects to study. Most students who opt to spend their time abroad in Moscow pursue Russian studies, which is the obvious choice for a reason. Founded in 1147, Moscow is one of the oldest cities in Russia, making it an ideal location to study history. For aspiring performance artists and cinema enthusiasts, theater programs in Moscow are also especially strong. The city has a lively history of performance art, recognized on the world stage. Studying theatre in Moscow offers students insight into Russian theatrical traditions and the region’s best playwrights, including the likes of Gogol and Chekhov.
Short term and summer vs. long term programs. Moscow’s academic calendar looks similar to that of many Western education systems. Classes start in September and end in May, with breaks in November, late December, and March. Summer is usually off, but many universities and private education centers in Moscow continue offering courses during the summer term.
Attending universities vs. studying w/ other program types. You can opt to register directly and be admitted to a university in Moscow, or you can choose to go through your own university, through a consortium, or through a third-party provider. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to study abroad in Moscow, so we recommend that you pick the program that fits your needs, goals, and budget.
Student Life in Moscow
From iconic communist monuments to Brooklyn-esque bistros, Moscow is pulsing with dark chills and hopeful vibrance; a mix that is forever captivating students’ imaginations. If you don’t know where to start, the Kremlin and Red Square are like Moscow’s North Star, guiding you back toward the city’s center.
Students taking a full course load have their hands full with classes and homework, but it’s worth making time for an evening break to pop into a neighborhood dive bar or visit an art museum. On summer afternoons, you’d be remiss not to take a stroll through Gorky Park. If your feet can’t move fast enough to cover the 10 miles path along the Moscow River, rent a bike or a pair of inline skates, or post up on the Olive Beach sundeck. Gorky Park is also famous for impromptu tournaments and tango dance classes, so don’t be shy about joining in.
For a classier night out, dabble in Moscow’s traditional arts scene or explore more experimental side scenes- especially popular among the burgeoning class of Muscovite “hipsters”. Watch a performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture at the Bolshoi Theatre, just down the street from where it premiered nearly a century ago. Thirsty? Sip cocktails on the rooftop of the funkily refurbished Red October Chocolate Factory, which has been transformed into a cultural hub.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
More affordable than most of its neighbors to the West, Moscow provides the color of urban life without the expense of comparable European cities. It also offers easy access to many major world regions. If you crave desolation and untrodden paths, Moscow is by far the best launching point to explore the 10.6 million miles of territory that makes up the Russian Federation. For students in search of more frequented destinations, Moscow is just a quick (and affordable) jump from many major European destinations.
If you’re in Moscow to improve your Russian language skills, отлично (great)! The city is becoming more international every day, but students who don’t have at least basic knowledge of Russian may run into a language barrier. On the bright side, there are enough Anglophones in the city that you’re never far from someone who can help you out in a pinch.
Winter in Moscow is cold and dark, so expect layers of fur, mittens, and 3 PM sunsets for at least a few months every year. On the bright side, Russians believe in eating and drinking away the cold, so when in Moscow embrace the warmth of cozy indoor pubs and locally brewed spirits. After the long winter, you’ll have earned your spot for the summer at one of Moscow’s crowded parks. The city comes alive from June to August, when long, sunny days see the parks fill with impromptu sports games and cultural activities.
Grab your ushanka (Russian fur hat), and let the khachapuri (cheese pies) lead the way. Studying abroad in Moscow will lead you through eerie corners of history into the glowing heart of a cosmopolitan capital. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to star in your own Russian novel; for once, happy ending guaranteed!
Find more inspiring info on studying abroad in Russia here.