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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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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Travel from Warsaw to Ustroń Polana

Travel from Warsaw to Ustroń Polana A Spring Break of Quiet Solitude ~$150 for 2-3 days Usually about the time spring break comes around in the US, I am ready for a week off class. I like to spend this time in some remote region where the sound of a car driving by is unlikely […]

Ulan-Ude, Weekend Trip from Irkutsk

Ulan-Ude Weekend Trip from Irkutsk Cost estimate: $125 for 2.5 days Halfway into our program in Irkutsk, both I and a friend were feeling the travel bug again and were ready for a change of scene. Ulan-Ude, the closest major city from Irkutsk, was definitely that. A few hours after my friend and I stepped out […]

Travel to Lviv from Kyiv

Trip to Lviv from Kyiv: An Indescribable Place, Described through Photos Weekend or Longer Trip Price: $150 inclusive for three days Best way to get there: Train Worth it: Absolutely When I stumbled off the night train at six a.m. in Lviv, the far western Ukrainian city, I was already beginning to understand just what […]

Bolshoe Goloustnoe, near Irkutsk

Bolshoe Goloustnoe Weekend Trip from Irkutsk Part of the SRAS cultural package for spring, 2017 Bolshoe Goloustnoe (Большое Голоустное) is a very small town approximately two hours outside Irkutsk by car. It’s right on Lake Baikal—as in, you can wake up, leave your hotel, and walk directly onto the lake. (Or into the lake, if […]

Weekend Trip from Warsaw to Lviv, Ukraine

 Trip from Warsaw to Lviv, Ukraine Weekend Trip Budget: ~460 zloty / 3000 hryvnia Exchange rates throughout Central and Eastern Europe are currently ridiculously set in favor of the dollar. For a student not to take the opportunity to travel a bit while it’s so cheap to do would be something of crime. I recently […]

A Trip to Khabarovsk from Vladivostok

Trip to Khabarovsk from Vladivostok One Weekend Budget: ~5000 rubles Russia celebrates March 8th, along with many other countries around the world, as International Women’s Day. The holiday is a big deal here. This is evident from all the obscure 24-hour flower shops flinging their doors open wide and preparing for the inevitable inrush of […]

Weekend Trip to Tallinn from St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg to Tallinn Weekend Trip ~$350 Study abroad is full of new experiences, from getting accustomed to the local culture and managing your courses. When you need a getaway, there is always an abundance of other Russian cities and sights to see. Although once your multi-entry visa is processed, Tallinn and other Baltic cities are […]

Chong-Kemin Valley, Kyrgyzstan

Mist, Mud, and Mountains in Beautiful Chong-Kemin Weekend Trip ~1000 som Chong-Kemin Valley is home to villages, a national park, and a state reserve just two and a half hours from Bishkek by marshrutka. I visited a village in the valley with two friends in March, travelling through CBT (Community Based Tourism). With more time […]

Meros Silk Paper Factory in Samarkand

Meros Silk Paper Factory/Бумажная Фабрика «Мерос» Koni Ghil/Кони Гил Tour cost: 3000 sum/$1.25 The Meros Silk Paper Factory was one of the last stops on this November’s trip from Bishkek to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, organized by SRAS and The London School of Bishkek as part of the Central Asian Studies study abroad program. Just outside Samarkand, […]

Suzdal / Суздаль

Trip to Suzdal Weekend Trip from Moscow Best as part of a trip to Vladimir On a mid-October weekend trip, my MSU dormitory roommate, Ellie and I visited the famous Golden Ring (Золотое кольцо) city of Suzdal. Suzdal is located on the edge of the Kamenka River (река Каменка) in the Vladimir Region (Владимирская область) […]

Vladimir / Владимир

Trip to Vladimir Weekend Trip from Moscow Cost: ~6,000 rubles Several weeks ago my English roommate, Eleanor (Ellie) and I traveled together from Moscow to Vladimir. We bought tickets for and boarded a Moscow-Vladimir express train at Kursky Station (Курский вокзал) on a Friday afternoon and left on a weekend adventure. We planned to stay […]

Lake Song-Kol in Naryn Province

Lake Song-Kol/Сонкёль Weekend Trip from Bishkek Horse Treking Budget: 11,300 soms Lake Song-Kol (Russian Сонкёль, Kyrgyz Соңкөл), the largest fresh water lake in Kyrgyzstan, lies at 9,895 ft in the peaks of mountains in Naryn Province. It’s one of the most magical places I have ever visited. I loved it more than the larger, more […]

The Do’s and Please Dont’s of Turkmenistan

Let’s face it everyone, Turkmenistan has a reputation that precedes it. The country has often been associated with the trope of the eccentric “hermit kingdom.” Characteristics such as extreme cults of personality surrounding their leaders, isolationism, strict control of all information within the country by the government, downright bizarre laws and a high functioning propaganda […]

Traveling Platzkart on Ukrainian Trains

Mention train travel in the former Soviet Union, and almost inevitably the discussion will at some point turn to the infamous “platzkart,” or third-class wagons. For those Westerners who have never traveled platzkart, the concept has taken on an almost horror-story-like quality over the past few decades, conjuring up images of cramped, uncomfortable quarters and […]

Long and Winding Road from Bishkek to Osh, Kyrgyzstan

This past weekend, I visited Osh, the “southern capital” of Kyrgyzstan. I’ve always wanted to go because I heard the 620-kilometer Bishkek-Osh Highway, the only main road connecting Russia with the south of Central Asia, was gorgeous. I also wanted to see “the south.” People always talk about Kyrgyzstan’s cultural, linguistic, and political “north-south divide,” […]

Weekend in Bokunbaeva, Kyrgyzstan

The best parts of Kyrgyzstan summers are weekend getaways to Lake Issyk Kul, one of the world’s deepest and highest lakes. Issyk Kul, which means “hot lake” in Kyrgyz, is the ultimate beach destination. It’s “hot” because it never freezes – but that is due to its salt content, not because it’s actually hot. Lake […]

Seven Things to Love in Almaty

Seven Things to Love in Almaty By Eirene Busa For those looking for a spring weekend getaway in Central Asia (and who isn’t?), book a trip to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and previous capital. Almaty is clean, modern, full of spacious, well-manicured parks, and it has a stunning backdrop of the snow-covered Ala-Too Mountains (or, […]

Travel to Mongolia: from Irkutsk and the rest of Russia

For most Westerners, the name Mongolia conjures up the idea of a mysterious Asian country which they know little to nothing about. Most Americans are aware, if anything, of Genghis Khan, and perhaps have heard stories of Mongolian throat singing or seen National Geographic videos of the great Gobi Desert. It is likely due to […]

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