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, […]

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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 – […]

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 […]

SRAS Program Review: A Full Year in Irkutsk

My first semester in Irkutsk, I did the Russian and the Environment program, which is Russian language classes paired with environmental studies. I arrived in Irkutsk the very end of August and began classes at the start of September. My Russian classes were 3 hours per day starting at 8:30 or 10:10 depending on the day. […]

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 […]

Khinkalnaya Georgian Restaurant in Irkutsk

Khinkalnaya is a Georgian restaurant in downtown Irkutsk. Located walking distance from the university in the 130thDistrict this is the perfect place for a get together with friends for a fun evening or to grab a bite after shopping at Modniyy Kvartal. While the prices are a bit higher than the standard meal in Irkutsk, […]

Bar Dekabrist in Irkutsk

Located downtown and a short walk from the central market is The Decembrist’s Bar or Bar Dekabrist. This local hangout is perfect for a night out with friends. The atmosphere is quite different from that of most other local bars and is more of a “hipster” vibe with a very comfy feeling. It is also […]

Dorm Sports in Irkutsk as an Immersion Experience

As spring arrives and the weather is getting better the urge to get out and active is getting stronger and stronger. While gyms can be found around the city they can be expensive unless you do some shopping around for a good deal. Luckily there is another way to stay fit and active for free. […]

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. […]

Russian Banya in Irkutsk

One of the most relaxing ways to spend time with friends and rid yourself of some stress is visiting a Russian banya. Not only is this beneficial to one’s health, but it is also a great way to experience one of Russia’s fun traditions. A banya traditionally consists of three rooms: the pre-bath room, the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Maslenitsa Through the Eyes of American Students, 2018

On February 17, squares, avenues and parks in every corner of Russia celebrated Maslenitsa, a traditional Russian holiday that marks the imminent end of winter with mountains of hot, delicious blini and revelry. Originally a pagan holiday celebrated as early as the 2nd century A.D., Maslenitsa has been somewhat folded into Orthodox Christian traditions and […]

Chaikhana Ok Saroy Uzbek Restaurant in Irkutsk

Chaikhana Ok Saroy (Чайхaна Ок-Сарой) café is a small restaurant located near the university in the area of the central market. It is about one block away from Shanghi City making it a great lunch option after wandering around the bazaar. The entrance is clearly marked and once inside the restaurant is on the second […]

New Year’s Celebrations in Irkutsk

One of the most amazing things I’ve done in Russia is to celebrate the New Year here. This is Russia’s main holiday. In Russia, Christmas (celebrated on Jan 7 rather than Dec 25) is a religious holiday without gifts and parties. The New Year is more like our Christmas and when the Russian version of […]

Ice Skating in Irkutsk

There are many great things about living in Siberia, but one of my favorites would be constant access to ice skating around October-March. There are several rinks both indoor and outdoor at varying costs, but the best two I have found so far are Ice People, Law School Rink, and a small rink on Ulaan […]

Shopping in Irkutsk

While Irkutsk is a very affordable city there are still many ways to shop that can save money while maintaining quality. I am very frugal and am able to stay within my budget every week while still being able to get some shopping in. There is a wide range of shopping centers and little shops […]

Being Catholic in Irkutsk

Staying religious abroad can be hard for many; I know it has been for me, especially in an environment where there is a language barrier and it takes a bit of effort to seek out the resources needed. Luckily, after visiting a few different churches, I found The Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral (Собор Непорочного […]

Cat Café in Irkutsk

Koteyka Kotocafé is a cat café that is a great place to relax and pet lots of friendly cats. The café is clean, modern, and minimalistic. The place is big enough to hold a good amount of people without feeling cramped or uncomfortable. This unique café is a well-hidden gem which is more than worth […]

My Budget in Irkutsk

Irkutsk is a very affordable city especially in comparison to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and American cities. Most students in Irkutsk can live on average of 30-50 dollars per week. I am very frugal and spend about 30-35 dollars per week but depending on your shopping habits, that can vary widely. Note: The ruble during my […]

Paintballing in Irkutsk

If you are looking for an adrenaline rush and an hour of fun look no further than Baza 38. Located only a few minutes from the university dorms, this paintballing arena is a well-priced, fun option to spend a day with friends. The outside actually says Институт систем энергетики им. Л.А. Мелентьева (Melentiev Energy Systems […]

Unity Day in Irkutsk

Unity Day (День народного единства) is held on November 4 every year across Russia. It commemorates the uprising which kicked out the Polish occupying forces from the Kremlin in November of 1612 at the end of the Polish-Muscovite War. The holiday was recognized during Imperial times, but after the 1917 Revolution, the Soviets replaced the holiday with […]

Golden Chopsticks

Golden Chopsticks is a small Chinese restaurant located relatively close to the dorms where SRAS students usually stay in Irkutsk. The interior décor is not very fancy and the restaurant itself is relatively small. However, what it lacks in décor it delivers in quality. I have been there a total of three times and plan […]

Zvezdny Bowling Center

Zvezdny Bowling Center Декабрьских Событий, 102/1 10:00-0:00 Price 3-13$ Website Zvezdny bowling center is located in the center of Irkutsk, not far from the university. While my friends and I were just there for the bowling, there is also an attached movie theatre that looks clean, nice, and inexpensive. The bowling center is very clean […]

Meeting Locals in Irkutsk

Getting Involved and Meeting Locals In Irkutsk A few suggestions Meeting local friends is one of the best ways to not only learn Russian, but also to feel at home in one’s host environment. The first few weeks in Irkutsk can be hard if you don’t know what to do or where to go, that’s […]

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 […]

Teremok House Café

Teremok House Café 4a Baikalskaya St (ул. 4а Байкальская) 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Entrees $3-$5 Teremok House Café is a small restaurant in downtown Irkutsk. It is located right next to the Shanghai City Mall building (Шанхай Сити Молл) and across from the central market (ц. рынок). It is very small and narrow but […]

Omar Khayyam Café

Омар Хайям Кафе/Omar Khayyam Café Karla Libknekhta St. 107В 11:00-24:00 Meals from 2-10$ Omar Khayyam Café is perfect for a student of any budget. I wandered upon this place while on a wild goose chase for a cat café that I found out had closed down. Needless to say, I was disappointed…until I found Omar […]

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 […]

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