Moscow is one of the largest and most influential cities in all of Europe, and has been at the center of much of the continent’s recent historical developments. Yet like any megacity, Moscow has its fair share of urban problems too. It is one of the most expensive cities in the world, which makes it hard for many of the city’s less fortunate citizens to get by. Volunteering in Moscow is your opportunity to experience life in one of the world’s most impressive cities while giving back your time to help make it a more livable place for all.
Volunteering in Moscow
Many volunteer projects in Moscow are devoted to working with the city’s overlooked population who often live in poverty. Placements working with the elderly, disabled, and war veterans, for example, are all common to find in Moscow, giving you a great opportunity to interact with minority segments of the local population. You can also find work in soup kitchens and orphanages around the city, spending time further caring for and serving the needy.
Volunteer teaching placements are also quite popular in Moscow, as the need for native English speaking educators is increasing with the rate of globalization. You can teach English at all levels, working with either adults or children in a variety of settings. In addition, other youth development placements such as volunteering at summer camps, community centers, or in childcare are readily available too.
Many volunteer abroad programs in Moscow will offer you Russian language courses as part of the experience, since you will likely be interacting with many locals who do not speak English well. Volunteer placements in Moscow tend to last a minimum of two weeks or up to one full year, depending your availability and flexibility. Programs are offered year-round, though most volunteers choose to go in the summertime because winters in Moscow can be extremely cold!
Life in Moscow
With over 12 million inhabitants, Russia’s capital is truly a spectacle to behold. From Saint Basil’s Cathedral to the Kremlin to the Ostankino tower, the architecture and historical life of this city will not fail to breathe wonder into the volunteer abroad.
Moscow may be a huge city, but you will have no problem getting around. The local metro system is the fourth largest in the world, and boasts close to 200 stops located around the metropolitan area. Moscow is also a major transportation hub, making travel to nearby cities such as St. Petersburg a breeze by train.
Undoubtedly the most challenging part about moving to Moscow for many is the long, frigid winters. Moscow is the coldest big city on earth, with average temperatures during winter settling around 20°F. If you are volunteering year-round, safe to say you will want to bring a winter coat.
Most organizations will not require you to know Russian in order to volunteer abroad in Moscow, but speaking at least a little bit of the language will help you a tremendous amount in everyday life outside your volunteer project. Not only will you save yourself a whole lot of time and confusion, but you will be able to interact with locals on a more genuine level too!
Costs & Affordability
Moscow, as it were, is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in (all the more reason why volunteers are needed to help alleviate the burdens of poverty). It will not be a cheap trip, but chances are that your volunteer abroad program may help cover the costs by offering room and board and in return for your services. Different programs vary significantly in their expenses, so take some time researching which is the best fit for you (and your wallet).
Accommodation & Visas
Housing is expensive and hard to come by in Moscow, so many volunteers abroad opt to live in a homestay with a local host family. This is a great opportunity to immerse yourself intimately in the Russian culture, and will help ease your transition smoothly into life in Moscow.
You will likely need to apply for a visa before volunteering abroad in Moscow, though the specific type will vary depending on your program duration and your home country. Talk to your volunteer program about what type of visa you will need, and also check out our Embassy Directory for more information from your local Russian consulate.
Benefits & Challenges
Make a Difference. Volunteering in Moscow you will be working hand in hand with locals to help better the lives of the city’s less fortunate. It is a rare opportunity to experience life in one of the world’s most unique and important cities while also contributing something back.
Learn Russian. Russian is one of the most highly sought-after languages by employers, and being adept in the language will make you a very intriguing candidate for jobs of all types. Make the effort to learn as much as you can while volunteering abroad in Moscow!
Expand your Horizons. Russian culture is as vast and impressive as the geography of the country itself, and safe to say you will take a lot away from immersing yourself in Moscow city life. You will also meet and make friends from not only Russia, but from all over the world.