Preparing for and Coping with Culture Shock

Some of our students report not feeling culture shock at all. Some are surprised by how much culture shock they experience. Often, those most affected are those who did not expect it. So how can you prepare to live in a new culture and get the most out of the experience? How do you prepare […]

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Managing Your Cash While Abroad: A Student Guide

Eurasia today is quite affordable. Students are often surprised how far their dollars will go even in major cities like St. Petersburg and Warsaw – and very surprised at how far they go in places like Bishkek and Irkutsk. However, students can also be surprised at how easy it is to run into troubles – […]

SRAS Guide to Living in Bishkek

The following is a quick overview to some of those services and products that students often need in the course of a semester or summer abroad. This covers everything from haircuts to pharmacies and gyms to computer repair. Students should generally expect to need to speak at least some Russian when seeking out these experiences […]

Ecoland: Health and Specialty Food in Bishkek

In the past I have found health food stores hard to find while traveling off the beaten track…not so in Bishkek. Ecoland is a shop located directly across the road from London School and if you don’t see it, you’ll hear it. Speakers blast feel good music onto the streets from a “cabin in the […]

A Guide to Settling into Bishkek

So, you’ve arrived and are excited to jump right into experiencing a new culture…but you’re hazy with jet lag, adjusting to new surroundings and not sure what to expect from the next few days. Here, I’ll share my experience of arriving into Bishkek and give you some tips on how to settle in as painlessly […]

Souvenir Hunting in Bishkek: A Guide

Wherever you travel, finding souvenirs is likely going to be a part of the journey. Bishkek has many felt and yurt-themed souvenirs that allow you to remember your time in Bishkek fondly. However, Kyrgyzstan, and subsequently Bishkek, aren’t exactly hot tourist spots, so troves where you can find gifts for the whole family are limited. […]

Bishkek Nightclubs: A Guide

One hot Friday night, a group of fellow students and I made our way to a nightclub. Little did I know I would end up spending each of my subsequent free weekends dancing the night away in various Bishkek nightclubs. They are fun and cheap, so if you go with a group of friends, you’re […]

National Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek

There are three major museums in Bishkek: The State History Museum, Frunze Museum, and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Chances are you will be taken to the National Museum of Fine Arts on an as part of your SRAS Cultural Program in Bishkek, so you will enter for free. If you want to go […]

Metro Pub in Bishkek

If you find yourself wondering what to do in Bishkek on a Friday night, then you should check out Metro Pub. It has a massive dance floor in the back that plays electronic dance music, while the front has a smaller dance floor with a live band. The dance floors are packed on the weekends, […]

Lanzhou Noodle Restaurant in Bishkek

Located on one of the main streets in Bishkek, Chui Prospect, the Lanzhou Noodle Restaurant is one of the few Chinese-owned restaurants in Bishkek. Owned by a Chinese woman who was born and raised in Bishkek, the restaurant caters for Chinese expats and locals here who love the delicious and diverse flavors of Chinese cuisine. […]

Homestay Experiences in Bishkek and Talas

Bishkek I decided to stay with a local host family in Bishkek to improve my Russian communication skills. My host family has four members, all of whom live on the west side of town. My hosts include the father, mother, their 11-year-old son, and an uncle. Their daughter is currently studying abroad in England, so […]

Bishkek: Student Budgets and Logistics

Students in Bishkek report spending about $25-40 a week average over the course of their stay. This covers groceries, eating at the university cafeteria, city transport, eating out, school supplies, modest weekend entertainment, and other general living expenses. Note that this guide assumes 68 som = 1 US dollar. 100 som is about $1.50. Prices […]

E. Gareyev Botanical Garden in Bishkek

If you love walking outside, and enjoy gardens, butterflies, birdwatching, or running, the E. Gareyev Botanical Garden is a must-see destination when traveling to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In my short time in Bishkek, I have spent many enjoyable early mornings and late afternoons strolling around this garden. Given its proximity to central Bishkek, a brief walk […]

Public Transportation in Bishkek

In Bishkek, as in many cities, public transportation is the primary and most effective way to get around town. There are four widely-used types of public transportation here: municipal bus, trolleybus, taxi, and marshrutka. 1. Marshrutka Locals have mentioned to me that marshrutkas are their most disliked method of transportation, but they are also evidently […]

Dorm Life at the London School in Bishkek

Where you live while studying has a huge impact on your time in Bishkek. There are three housing options for Bishkek: homestay, off-campus student housing, and on-campus dorms. The homestay is great for those who want to be immersed in Kyrgyz culture and language, but it also costs $10 a day, which can add up. […]

How to Cook in Bishkek: No Oven Required

When I signed up to live in the dorms, I was prepared to live on a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and eggs. I was not encouraged to stray from this plan when I saw that the kitchen boasted only a hot plate in place of a stove and had no oven for […]

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 […]

Packing List for Study Abroad (+what to do with your laptop, cell phone, etc.)

A semester or year stay abroad requires considerable planning. If you will be spending winter months in most SRAS locations, luggage can quite easily become unwieldy, which can mean airline charges for overweight bags. Planning what you need in advance can help you avoid this (and help you avoid forgetting something important). Invest in good, […]

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 […]

How to Survive Your First Week in Bishkek

I arrived in Bishkek in a daze. I had just spent thirty hours travelling, and it hadn’t quite set in that I was actually in Kyrgyzstan. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was really in Kyrgyzstan until I visited Issyk-Kul later that day. The excursion coordinator at the London School, Danar, picked me up from […]

Russian as a Second Language in Bishkek and Irkutsk

Program Evaluation Russian as a Second Language in Bishkek and Irkutsk (plus Home and Abroad Scholarship)   Academic Program in Bishkek and Irkutsk Bishkek First, the basics. I was in the Russian as a Second Language program. I had class four days a week, 8:30 to 2:30, all Russian-language. My day off, Wednesday, was devoted to grammar […]

Barclay’s Sports Bar in Bishkek

Barclay’s Pub 52 Baatik Baatyr Street 17:00-24:00 Entrees around $8-10 Barclays is a very nice sports bar located just a block away from the London School. This is definitely one of my favorite places to hang out with friends because the atmosphere is lively with a wide array of sports being shown. I’ve been able […]

The Coffee House in Bishkek

The Coffee House 27/1 Gorky St. 9:00- 23:00 Coffee and Snack from $5 I decided to try another coffee place close to the London School called The Coffee House, which is conveniently located inside the Vefa Shopping Center. Overall, it is a good coffee shop, however, not my preference even considering the proximity to the […]

DoDo Pizza in Bishkek

DoDo Pizza 101/1 Shopokov Street 8:00-24:00 Pizza for $3 Free drinks at lunch Soon after arriving Bishkek my friend and I decided to find the best pizza restaurant in the city. We now have a shortlist, narrowed from the extensive list of pizza venues, of the two best. One is Imperial Pizza. The other is […]

Imperial Pizza in Bishkek

Imperial Pizza / Империя Пизза 27/1 Gorky Street 8:00-24:00 Pizzas for $4 Imperial Pizza is one of the two best pizza places in Bishkek in my personal opinion. (The other is DoDo, by the way.) Imperial Pizza also has the advantage of being close to the school (less than a three-minute walk), is very affordable, […]

Smokie’s BBQ in Bishkek

Smokie’s Open 24 hours Zhukeeva Pudovkina Steet and Doneteskaya Street, Bishkek Meals for around $14 Something I didn’t think I’d end up craving but inevitably did was barbecue food, in particular a pulled pork sandwich. For the first few months in Bishkek I was under the impression that this was simply something I would have […]

Relax Coffee in Bishkek

Relax Coffee 140 Toktogul Street 8:00- 24:00 Meals from about $10 For ex-pat (homesick) food, I recommend Relax Coffee to anyone in Bishkek. Although it is the most expensive restaurant I’ve personally been to in Bishkek (with bills around around $10), Relax is worth every penny. It is like an Applebee’s or Chili’s, but honestly […]

Fitness House in Bishkek

Fitness House 7:00-23:00 67/1 Baatik Baatura Street $30 per month Although I have many hobbies, my favorite pastime for the last seven years has been lifting, especially powerlifting. When I came to Bishkek, I was honestly worried that it would be difficult to find a decent gym, or at least a decent gym near my […]

Jiu-Jitsu Training in Bishkek

Top Team Jiu-Jitsu Training Sessions are at different times I trained M/W/F 7:00-9:00 P.M. Located on Geological Street (It’s the first alley on Baatik Baatura after you pass Vefa walking from the School) When I first arrived in Bishkek I decided that I’d like to continue my martial arts training. I had done a few […]

Travel to Georgia from Bishkek

Travel to Georgia from Bishkek ~$400 for a 6-day trip I am currently a student in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan but I love traveling in general. Therefore, when my friend studying in Moscow asked me if I’d be interested in taking a trip to Georgia to meet up, I obviously said “Yes.” I planned out a six-day […]

Cup and Cake Coffee in Bishkek

Cup and Cake 9:30-12:00 (P.M.) 114 Gorky Street At a certain point, everyone just wants a great café to drink coffee, catch up on work, and enjoy a pleasant atmosphere. Luckily there are a few coffee shops near the London School and since I love coffee, I am determined to try each and every one. […]

As-Kazan – Local Food in Bishkek

As-Kazan Кулатова, 20 9:00- 10:00 Main Dishes from $3 As-Kazan has been one of my favorite restaurants throughout my time here in Bishkek. Colloquially referred to as the “Lagman Shop” by my friends, As-Kazan is one of the best restaurants for local ethnic cuisine. The interior is clean, the location is close to our school, […]

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