Students Encouraged to Apply Early Due to FIFA and Other Factors
Students planning to study abroad in Eurasia this summer should apply as early as possible. There are several reasons we are advising this.
First, due to recent changes in US State Department travel advisory classifications, some students are being asked to choose alternate destinations outside of Russia by their universities or funding sources. For this reason, SRAS is expecting to be at or near capacity in our Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine locations. More on these and other concerns generally affecting study abroad to Russia can be found here.
Second, we are seeing increased interest in Irkutsk and greatly encourage especially those interested in our Russia and the Environment summer program to apply early. Our partners at Great Baikal Trail have limited slots for the included service project that is part of that program.
Third, the arrival of the FIFA cup games to Russia will mean that some Russian cities will be bursting with activity, tourists, and increased security procedures. We expect that these may included increased visa processing times and would like to have students begin that process as early as possible.
The vast majority of hotels in FIFA cities are already booked. While SRAS students will, of course, stay in dorms or homestays, students should realize that this influx of tourists will be unprecedented in modern Russian history. Students should expect crowded public transportation, busy cafes and restaurants, and lines at popular tourist attractions. This will affect specifically SRAS students in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The authorities are also taking very bold precautions to keep this influx of visitors safe during this period. A special visa registration regime will be in effect. Nearby factories that could be targeted have been asked to shut down for the period. Additionally, students should not be surprised by unannounced closures of tourist attractions, public transport, or other security-related inconveniences during their time abroad in FIFA cities.
In addition, access to MGU facilities will be limited due to its proximity to Luzhniki Stadium. Therefore, SRAS Moscow programs usually held at MGU during the summer are currently being moved. Details are still being considered, but most likely students will be hosted by our other Moscow partner university, MGIMO. We are also exploring offering a split program between Moscow and St. Petersburg if the visa logistics can be worked out. We will announce the final decision on our site and newsletter when it is made. If you would like to be among the first to know, send us an email to indicate your interest.
SRAS is not expecting disruption to its St. Petersburg academic programs, but St. Petersburg students should still come expecting crowds and increased security precautions.
For those students hoping to avoid the crowds (but again, please apply early!), Irkutsk is an excellent choice, providing excellent Russian immersion in a culturally rich and highly navigable smaller city that will be unaffected directly by FIFA. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is another excellent alternative for summer session Russian-language immersion as well as optional courses in anthropology and identity studies. SRAS also offers summer Russian courses in Ukraine (Kiev and Odessa). Our programs in Warsaw, Poland, focusing on security studies and our Georgian Foodways program, hosted in Georgia, will also be unaffected by the special concerns listed above.
SRAS will continue to monitor the situation and adapt its programming to ensure an optimal student experience abroad. Keep an eye on our website and follow us on Facebook for the latest updates.