Life in Russia

Don't be shy, never be afraid to speak the language. If you speak Russian well, it is very impressive to them because many have never heard a foreigner speak Russian. Nicholas from WA, Year Program
I was unprepared for the openness about income and money in the household, interest in exact distance from nearest big cities, saunas, teen relationships between friends and significant others. Connor from NJ, Summer Program
Brush up on some helpful phrases and words that are most commonly used to get around at first, and definitely try to learn the Cyrillic alphabet.Connor from NJ, Summer Program
Russians are very personal people, and they don't meet Americans that often, so they will try to find out as much about you as possible in the limited time that you stay. Connor from NJ, Summer Program
What we consider polite in the US is often considered unnecessary and even insincere in Russia. Don't hold it against people - once you get to know them they are actually very kind and nice. Sean from NC, Year Program
Take warm clothes, and if your host mother says eat, eat! Zachary from OH, Year Program
Don't limit yourself into thinking that you can only make friends in school. A good exchange friend and I made good friends with the local hairstylists, librarians, ice-cream vendors and grocery workers. Befriend them and practice your language skills! Kathy from CA, Year Program
Russia is not for the light-hearted. It is a tough country and requires tough students. But the people you will meet and the experiences that you have will forever change how you view the world and your place in it. What I learned was priceless. Paige from OK, Year Program
Be prepared to be a celebrity for a while. I enjoyed it immensely, but some of the kids in my group who were a little shyer took some time adjusting to having everyone look at them and want to speak with them. Many of the little kids would ask me for my autograph! Wilson from VA, Summer Program
Study the language beforehand. It may seem daunting, but even just learning the alphabet would be a huge advantage. Shannon from ME, Summer Program

Digging Deeper

Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • Kuka (2007)
  • Burnt by the Sun (1994)
  • The Romanovs: An Imperial Family (2000)
  • Russian Ark (2002)
  • War and Peace (1966)
  • The Italian (2005)
  • Everything is Illuminated (2005)
  • Night Watch (2004)
  • My Perestroika (2010)
  • The Man Who Saved the World (2014)
  • Khodorkovsky (2011)
  • Pripyat (1999)
  • Stateless (2014)
  • Russia: A Journey with Jonathon Dimbleby (2008)
  • Wild Russia (series) (2009)
Books
  • Crime and Punishment
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • Anna Karenina
  • War and Peace
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  • The Bronze Horseman
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Everything is Illuminated
  • Night Watch
  • A Taste of Russia: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality
  • Travels in Siberia
  • A Concise History of Russia
  • Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia

LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)
Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.