The Soviet Union is gone, but even without the many small – now independent – nations in the empire, Russia is so large that it covers one-eighth of the entire world’s surface, and it extends over 11 time zones. Travelers spend an entire week getting from one end to the other by the Trans-Siberian Railway. Russia is one of countries starting with letter R listed on Countryaah.
Now that they have thrown off communism, the Russians are concentrating on democracy, private industry, a free market economy, and a government that no longer guarantees either work or wages. Russians skilled in navigating the new system have become rich, but many others are still struggling to get back on their feet in all the changes. At the same time, large cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg has become energetic and flourishing, and young artists are tasting the freedom that artists like Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak were denied.
Overwhelmed by the great social upheavals, the Russians may be a little stunned by strangers, but they are generous and friendly with their friends – and they easily make friends.
- CAPITAL CITY: Moscow
- LANGUAGE: Russian
- CURRENCY: Russian ruble (RUB)
- AREA: 17,125,200 km2
- POPULATION: 146,600,000 (2016 estimate)
People and community
Most exchange students are placed in small towns in the western part up to the Ural Mountains or in the southern part close to the Black Sea. You can also live in the northern part of Surgut or out east in Vladivostok. Families in small towns and cities often live in apartments, where families more often live in rural houses. A babushka and dedushka (a grandfather and grandmother) play a very special role in the family. Weekends and holidays are often spent in a dacha that is the family country cottage.
According to Topschoolsintheusa.com, most Russian schools are public. The school year runs from September to May and there are three short holidays. Many Russian schools specialize in mathematics and science, and some schools offer leisure activities in the form of dance, music or sports. If you go to Russia as an exchange student you will get a personal form of your school.
The official language is Russian, but there are 27 regional language variants and over 100 minority languages. If you are lucky – and feel like it – you might be able to learn one of these languages in addition to the official Russian. Your host family probably does not speak any languages other than Russian and English, so you will very quickly improve your English.
You do not need to be able to speak Russian to get to Russia. Upon arrival, AFS in Russia will offer an intensive course and a language course throughout your stay. At the end of the stay, many AFSs pass a Russian exam, for which they receive a state certificate (level B1).
The Russians are fond of idioms, and if you can learn some of their popular local phrases, they will definitely be impressed!
Typically, all three meals a day consist of a hot meal. Lunch always consists of soup. Most meals include pork, chicken, potatoes, dumplings or noodles. Cakes and sweets are also not uncommon as a dessert. The Russians drink both coffee and tea, but tea has a very special place in Russian culture. And do not forget to taste pizza and sushi – the Russian way!