Explore Russia Program
Co-sponsored by the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota and Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Washington, Explore Russia! is one half of the long-standing annual language and cultural exchange with Duluth’s sister city, Petrozavodsk. Explore Russia! 2019 will mark the 30th anniversary of the intensive Russian language program held at Petrozavodsk State University in Petrozavodsk. Participants in the program gain second language proficiency through intensive language classes targeted to three different levels, novice (no previous knowledge of Russian) to intermediate. Daily excursions within the city of Petrozavodsk and weekend trips to more distant destinations provide insights into the historical background and unique cultural identity of the Republic of Karelia. The tour visits both St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia’s cultural and political centers. Homestays during the time in Petrozavodsk allow full cultural immersion and more personalized knowledge of the culture and traditions of specific families, as well as an opportunity to consider and discuss differing viewpoints. As part of the immersion experience, students conduct an interview of their hosts and incorporate the information they learn into a reflection paper.
Students confront first-hand the profoundly different cultural and societal viewpoints instilled by diverse cultural backgrounds and work to recognize and overcome prejudices caused by personal, social and institutional factors in their home country and in Russia. The experience negotiating daily life and learning language, culture and history while immersed in the host society prepares the students for life and work in a global environment. In particular, the students develop personal and social responsibility by actively seeking out solutions for peace and justice in a diverse world, acting as cultural diplomats while abroad and on return to their communities.
Activities/Course Work: 3 hours per day of intensive language and culture classes; excursions to museums and other cultural sites; a trip to Kizhi Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site; a trip to Kivach Falls; a weekend at a host family's dacha (cabin); rafting trip, interview of host family, a 6-page reflection paper, required blog entry
The safety and well-being of our students is of utmost importance for all Education Abroad programs at the College of St. Scholastica. As we review our programs annually, we give careful consideration to the associated safety and security risks.
Russia is currently rated as a Level 3-Reconsider Travel region by the U.S. Department of State due to terrorism and harassment. CSS groups do not visit the areas in the North Caucasus and Crimea where these issues are of greater concern. We recommend that students review the travel advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State. Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Russia. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Bomb threats against public venues are common. U.S. citizens are often victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials. Russia also enforces special restrictions on dual U.S.-Russian nationals. Due to the Russian government-imposed reduction on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, the U.S. government ha reduced ability to provide services to U.S. citizens.
The College of St. Scholastica completed a risk review in spring 2018. In addition, we ensure that all parties involved are informed of the security situation in Russia and what measures we have taken, and continue to take, to ensure a safe travel and learning environment. We continually monitor the situation and although sporadic incidents of organized crime-related violence have occurred, no international students, tourists or foreigners have been targeted. Street crime is present, as in any large city. Common sense travel recommendations are a significant part of orientation for students before departure and on site, and all students receive specific guidelines to follow while in Russia to minimize risks.
Medical and Physical Considerations by Site
Please consult https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/ Hepatitis A and rabies. All travelers should be up to date on routine vaccinations including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your annual flu shot. Hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended.