Every SRAS location is unique. While each SRAS program includes a basic housing option, availability and particulars differ in each location. See the “Housing” section of each program page for more information about housing available with each program. Your SRAS consultant will also help you make a choice that is right for you. The below information is presented as a general guide to the pros and cons of each option. You can also read about students’ past experiences on our Students Abroad site.
Cost: Generally, dorms are the cheapest and most popular option.
Location: Dorms are usually on campus and a short walk or bus ride from your classes. A notable exception are the dormitories in Irkutsk, which are a bus commute of about 25-30 minutes from classes.
Space and Amenities: Most dorms offer shared rooms. A few offer private rooms. In either case, you can count on just enough personal space to fit a small bed, a table, and a cabinet. Toilet, shower, and kitchen facilities are usually shared. Kitchen facilities are usually minimal: sometimes they consist of just a sink and a hotplate. Cafeterias, grocery stores, snack bars, and/or cafes are usually nearby or on-site. Beds are generally quite small, very often no more than the size of a cot. Internet is generally available on-site or at a nearby cafe with WiFi. Laundry facilities are usually available, sometimes for just the cost of detergent.
Community: Dorms usually house both locals and foreign students. There is nearly always someone to do something with or just hang out with if you put yourself out there. This can be a detriment to your language practice, however, as it is very easy to start hanging out mostly with English speakers. You will need to make an effort to overcome this.
Restrictions: Theoretically, you can come and go as you please. Most dorms have electronic passes and gates. Getting guests in can be difficult, because one needs to show a student ID to enter and “visiting hours” are restricted. Sometimes dorms can be noisy at night. You are expected to maintain the cleanliness of your own room, toilet, and shower facilities. All public places, such as kitchens and washing areas, should be in the same or better condition when you leave them as when you came to them.
These are general parameters; the specifics of each host can vary. Homestays are not available in all locations.
Cost: Home stay is a supplemental fee to the base program costs for most SRAS study abroad programs. Programs will list all available options on the program page and the costs for each are on the application.
Community: Each host is different. Most are older and retired. Especially those outside of very large cities are great for immersion in language and daily culture.
Space and Amenities: You will likely be living in fairly crowded conditions, at least by American standards. Local apartments are, as a rule, not large. You will have your own room, but will share the kitchen and bathroom with the host. Most students stay in “spare rooms” where they will have personal space, but also will have some “storage” around them used by the owner. Beds are, as a rule, quite small; sometimes they are couches that fold out into a small bed. Be ready for this, and be flexible. Laundry facilities are generally available, but at extra cost (average $25 per month). WiFi is usually available, but not always. Where it is not, an inexpensive dongle and Internet plan can be purchased locally.
Location: We try to place you near the university, but cannot always guarantee this. Proximity to other facilities like cafes and sports clubs also varies.
Restrictions: You will have your own key and can be fairly independent. However, do not be surprised if your host family is just like your own family, telling to you to clean your room, be home for dinner on time, call when you will be late, and not to come home late too often. Before extending invitations to friends, discuss having guests over with your host. You must be respectful of your host family’s belongings and things. Most host families are very accommodating. However, it is also important to know that respect is very important in any culture and that most hosts operate on limited budgets. You should not expect to use anything without first asking permission. If you should damage something within their apartment, you are expected to fix or replace it.
Important: SRAS does not support private apartment rentals or stays outside of our approved home stay hosts and dormitories. While SRAS will continue to provide students with advice in all important matters, students who elect to find non-SRAS housing will be ultimately responsible for (in Russia) their own visa registration as required by the Russian state, and for the safety of their chosen housing option.
Cost: Apartments vary widely in cost across SRAS locations. In Bishkek, a small one-bedroom can be found in the center for around $300 per month. In Moscow, a bed in a shared room will often go for more than that. For those students renting apartments, the dormitory cost included in SRAS programs is deducted, but will be generally much less than the cost of renting an apartment.
Time Frames: We do not recommend renting an apartment sight-unseen, so you should likely plan to stay in the dormitory for your first few weeks while you look for an apartment and make arrangements. This will allow you to hunt for roommates as well.
Restrictions: In Russia, the owner (and only the registered owner) of the property must register you in the apartment for you to remain in Russia legally. Make very sure that the landlord will agree to register you before you move in. Many of them will not. Especially in larger cities, landlords are increasingly unwilling to rent for medium-terms (a few months), meaning that finding an apartment for one semester can be difficult. These complications and others have led some of our partner institutions not to allow apartment rental as a housing option.
I’ve studied in Irkutsk and St. Petersburg with SRAS, but [Bishkek] is, by far, my favorite because of the intense focus on speaking skills. I spend about three hours, 4 times a week speaking one-on-one. It’s such a unique opportunity! The people are also especially friendly here. My homestay is fantastic, the coordinator is a never-ending wealth of help, and the food of Central Asia is delicious.