Traveling to Kazakhstan from Moscow

Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia, a landlocked country and the ninth largest country in the world. I took a four-hour flight from Moscow to Almaty for a little over $100 (cheaper tickets are definitely available). The gargantuan mountains that tower Almaty to the south of the city dominated my first impressions of the city, […]

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Hiking Near Bishkek: 12 Kaminov

While there is plenty to do in Bishkek, the main reason many people choose to study there is to experience the breathtaking landscape of Kyrgyzstan’s countryside. The SRAS program organizes hiking excursions to Ala-Archa and around Issyk-Kul, but there are also free weekends when you can hike independently to lesser-known areas. My friend Allie and […]

A Weekend Excursion in Issyk-Kul

Just a few hours after stepping off the plane, I was whisked away on an excursion to Issyk-Kul. I found myself on a van full of students I didn’t know, but with whom I quickly became friends. The ride out to the Issyk-Kul region was a long four hours over bumpy roads with a driver […]

Boating in Irkutsk

One of the best parts of Irkutsk in the spring and summer is the beautiful Angara River and, of course, an unfrozen Lake Baikal. One can walk along the shores of the river or cook out near the forests surrounding the river. There are lots of fisherman and small boats around  – and boating, we […]

Trip to Zhemchug from Irkutsk

Sometimes one gets the urge to travel but going far away can be expensive and time consuming. Zhemchug (Жемчуг) is the perfect place for a cheap, fun, and quick weekend getaway. Located about 3-4 hours away from Irkutsk it can be easily reached by bus or marshrytka. Zhemchug is a beautiful rural village 30 minutes […]

Four Day Trip to Moscow from St. Petersburg

When I told my family that I would be studying abroad in Russia, they all seemed to ask me the similar question of would I get to see the Kremlin, Red Square, or St. Basil’s Cathedral. I always found these inquiries to be comical because all three of these are located in Moscow, yet I […]

Weekend Trip to Helsinki, Finland from St. Petersburg

While studying abroad in St. Petersburg, I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit, both within Russia and internationally. There are a handful of countries that are surprisingly easy and cost-friendly to travel to from St. Petersburg. The most popular weekend destinations for students are the neighboring states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland. […]

Trip to Arshan from Irkutsk

Arshan is a village located in the Republic of Buryatia about 3 hours away from Irkutsk. Arshan is known for many things but mainly for hiking and a source of natural spring water (минеральныйисточник). Arshan is a great idea for a weekend or a three day weekend if one gets the sudden urge to travel. […]

The Golden Ring: Kostroma, Yaroslavl and Rostov Veliky from Moscow

The Golden Ring, a group of historic cities northeast of Moscow, is known for kremlins, monasteries and churches preserved from the 12th–18th centuries. There are eight principal cities (plus several more that have come, especially as tourism in Russia has grown, to market themselves as part of the Ring). Thus, it’s impossible to see it […]

Trip to Vilnius, Lithuania from Moscow

I visited Vilnius in January 2018 to catch up with an old friend who’d moved there from America about a year earlier. Although it was my first time in the Baltics, and I had no idea what to expect, I quickly fell in love with the small, winding cobblestone streets, the old architecture and charm […]

Trip to Kazan from Moscow

After hearing my friends and professors rave about Kazan for months, a friend and I finally went from Thursday through Saturday during the last week of February. At a brisk -12C, it certainly could have been colder, but the wind did cause us to spend a little more time indoors. Nonetheless, Kazan lived up to […]

Trip to Krasnoyarsk from Irkutsk

Over winter break I decided to take a longer trip outside of Irkutsk – to Novosibirsk. On my way, I stopped for 3 days in Krasnoyarsk. This entry will cover just my time in Krasnoyarsk. Another will focus on Novosibirsk. Why should you go to Krasnoyarsk? It’s definitely a great stop for nature lovers. One […]

Trip to Novosibirsk from Irkutsk

After my trip to Krasnoyarsk I reached my final destination, Novosibirsk. Immediately I could see a difference in size from Irkutsk. Novosibirsk had much more of a “big city feel.” The metro, tall buildings, and sheer size (population 1.5 million) was exciting in comparison to what I’d grown used to in Irkutsk (population 600,000). There […]

Trip to Sakhyurta

One of my favorite trips so far while I’ve been abroad in Russia has been my weekend stay in Sakhyurta. Sakhyurta is a small village located directly on the shore of Lake Baikal, walking distance from the southernmost point of Olkhon Island. Because we went in the middle of winter we could walk to Olkhon […]

Skiing in Olkha (Daytrip from Irkutsk)

While there are several options for skiing within Irkutsk city limits, it is nice to take a short day trip to get a taste of the more rural nature scene. As someone who loves to ski but is by no means a professional, Olkha Ski Resort is a great option. Olkha offers several different hills […]

Learning Through a Passport: The Undeniable Importance of Travel

“Travel is the most intense mode of learning”- Kevin Kelly, executive editor of Wired magazine   Eight months ago, my year of studying abroad began. I arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia as part of the Policy and Conflict in the Post-Soviet Space (PCON) program. Over the course of the following fall semester, I travelled all across […]

Make the Most of a Layover in Moscow

How I Spent My Long Layover in Moscow as I Flew to Irkutsk Layovers in major cities are very common in international travel and are often regarded as a headache to be kept to an hour or two – just enough to make sure you make the connecting flight. However, layovers can be a convenient […]

Day Trip to a Russian Dacha from St. Petersburg

For my spring semester abroad, I’m studying right in the heart of St. Petersburg, Russia. I’m surrounded by a ton of cute cafes and diverse restaurants, and I’m within walking distance of several popular attractions in the city, such as the Hermitage and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. However, being in the […]

A Weekend in Minsk

As an SRAS student in Russia, you’ll likely have a multiple-entry student visa. This means that you should be able, with proper planning, to explore not only Russia, but other countries nearby. Near the end of the semester, four of my friends and I decided to do just that. We settled on Minsk, largely because […]

Lviv – Weekend Trip from Kyiv

Coffee, Chocolate, and a Dose of the True Ukrainian Spirit Cost of Trip from Kyiv to Lviv: 1,425 Hryvnia (Roughly $55 for housing, transport, food, and souvenirs) While studying in Kiev, I’ve had the amazing opportunity of living with a Ukrainian host family who enjoys welcoming students from all over the world. Both of my […]

The Monastery of Saint Nino at Bodbe in Georgia

The Monastery of Saint Nino at Bodbe: The Beauty of Sighnaghi Sighnaghi, Kakheti, Georgia (Excursion included in the Policy and Conflict Program, Fall 2017) Price of visit and lunch: 25 Lari   During my first week in Georgia, my classmates and I took a trip out to Sighnaghi, which is roughly a two-hour drive from […]

Bolshie Koty

Bolshie Koty/Большие Коты Day Trip from Irkutsk Located on Lake Baikal (trip included in SRAS cultural program for Irkutsk for Fall, 2017) Bolshie Koty is a village located on the Western shore of Lake Baikal about 12.5 miles North of Listvyanka. There are several ways to reach it by either boat, train, or on foot […]

Corpus Christi in Lowicz – Day Trip from Warsaw

Celebrating Corpus Christi—In the town of Lowicz All day event Budget: 150zl for food and souvenirs (trip included in SRAS cultural program for Warsaw for Summer, 2017) Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday celebrating the Blood and Body of Christ. Since Poland is majority Catholic, most stores and eateries in the country are closed for […]

The Importance of Living Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Studying by itself can be challenging, which puts studying in a foreign country in a whole different level of difficulty. This past summer has been one of the most formative and informational experiences that I have ever had; but it may not have ended that way unless I took the advice from my professor before […]

Masha’s Dacha – Featured SRAS Excursion out of Moscow

Masha’s Dacha Included as part of SRAS’ Cultural Program Summer, 2017 This summer, the students enrolled with SRAS Moscow had the opportunity to visit the outskirts of the city and spend the day at a very generous Russian family’s dacha. A dacha is similar to a country house, and they are a hugely important part […]

Sergiyev Posad and the Lavra: Day Trip from Moscow

Сергиев Посад/Sergiyev Posad Троице-Сергиева Лавра/Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius Троице-Сергиева Лавра – open daily 8:00 to 18:00 Weekends churches are closed to the public Lavra’s Museum on-site closed on Mondays Free Admission to the monastery Train tickets round-trip – 600-1000 rubles   As our program rounds out to a close, some friends and I decided […]

The Streets of Tbilisi: Travel for PCON

Tbilisi, Georgia Included within Travel Program for Policy and Conflict in the Post-Soviet Space for Spring, 2017 Photojournalism by Rebekah Welch Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia is known for its unique (and un-regulated) architecture and cheap cost of living. In a few short days I discovered both are true, but also that there is […]

Svaneti: The Mountains of Georgia: Travel for PCON

Svaneti: The Mountains of Georgia Included within Travel Program for Policy and Conflict in the Post-Soviet Space for Spring, 2017 Photojournalism by Rebekah Welch I’m from Missoula, Montana, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, where you’ll find beauty wherever you place your eyes, so much so that you become desensitized to it, take it […]

A Glimpse of Armenia’s Many Monasteries: Travel for PCON

A Glimpse of Armenia’s Many Monasteries Included within Travel Program for Policy and Conflict in the Post-Soviet Space for Spring, 2017 A little known fact (at least, in America, where most things about Armenia are unknown) is that Armenia despite its many Muslim neighbors, was actually the world’s first Christian nation, officially adopting it in […]

Trip to Vladivostok from Irkutsk

Trip to Vladivostok from Irkutsk $550 for 4.5 days* Vladivostok has been top on my list of Russian cities to visit for a while now, so I was determined to get there while I was living in Irkutsk—and, to add urgency to the matter, I needed to go to an American consulate, and there’s one […]

Trip to Khabarovsk from Irkutsk

Trip to Khabarovsk from Irkutsk ~$500 for 2–3 days* This week, I took a long trip from Irkutsk. The end point was Vladivostok, but because of how expensive all the flights from Irkutsk to Vlad are, I ended up with a twelve-hour layover in Khabarovsk. However, I figured it would be nice to explore the city […]

Day Trip from Warsaw to Gdańsk

Travel from Warsaw to Gdańsk A Day of Exploring ~$60 for a day trip (for details on expenses and logistics, head to the end of the article!) With winter finally coming to an end in Poland, I have begun to travel to some places that were long recommended to me by Warsaw. One of the […]

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