Russia is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse countries. You can find everything here: mountains, plains, forests, steps, lakes, rivers, and seas. Russia is equally rich in history and traditions, and has a deep cultural heritage of art and music.
Extracurricular courses are part of teenage life, including attending art or music school, swimming lessons, working out at the gym or taking a language course. Skateboarding, roller-skating and bike riding are popular, too.
People & Community
Most exchange students are placed in small towns in the western part of Russia up to the Ural mountains or in the south, close to the Black Sea. You could also live in the north in Surgut or in Vladivostok in the far east. Families in towns and cities tend to live in apartment; single family homes are more common in rural areas. A babushka anddedushka (grandma and grandpa) play a special role in the family. Weekends and holidays may be spent at the family country cottage, called dacha.
Most Russian schools are public. The school year runs from September to May, with three short vacations in between. Many Russian schools specialize in math and science, and some schools offer extracurricular classes in dance, music, or sports. As an exchange student, you will get a personalized schedule from your school.
The official language is Russian, with another 27 official regional languages and over 100 minority languages. If you are lucky, you can learn one of these languages too on top of Russian. Your host family probably won’t speak foreign languages, which will help you improve your language skills very quickly. You don’t have to know Russian to apply for the program. AFS Russia will offer you an intensive course when you arrive and a language course throughout your stay. By the end of the program many AFS students pass the exam in Russian at the university and get a State certificate (B1 level). Also, Russians like using idioms (popular local phrases or sayings) and if you learn some of them, they will be very impressed!
Hot meals three times a day defines a typical Russian diet. Soup for lunch is a must. Most meals include pork, chicken, potatoes, dumplings or noodles. Pastries and sweets are often eaten for dessert. Tea and coffee are both common, but tea has a special place in Russian culture. Don’t forget to taste pizza and sushi, Russian style!