Far Eastern Federal University – Russky Island Campus
A Must See: The Epitome of APEC 2012
If you do not get a chance you visit Far Eastern Federal University’s Russky Island Campus (FEFU), you are missing an essential aspect of the Vladivostok experience. The 2012 APEC Summit (if you take the Russian Far East, you will be a scholar of the 2012 APEC by the time you leave), saw a major modernization of Vladivostok, of which the development of Russky Island was a cornerstone. The island and campus is now part of what makes the city special. State-of-the-art facilities, hotel-like dormitories, and impressive faculty, FEFU has been pointed to as making Vladivostok relevant to the international community. Russia hopes that it will become a higher education powerhouse in the Far East in the coming years.
Unfortunately, getting into FEFU is an adventure in itself.
So, here is a guide on what to do:
Step 1: Make friends
It is essential to make a friend that studies at FEFU, in order to get into FEFU. This is the hardest part, since most students simply stay on Russky Island. If you don’t have a friend, the guards won’t let you in. While there is a rivalry between FEFU and VSUES, most VSUES students have friends who go to FEFU. Creating a vk.com account is recommended for networking as it is one of Russia’s most popular social networks.
Step 2: Take Bus #15
Go outside VSUES to the main bus stop on Gogolya and catch the #15. It is the largest and most modern bus, so it is hard to miss. It will be a 40 minute-1 hour bus ride (depending on traffic), but you get to hit up not only the Golden Horn Bridge, but also the Russky Bridge (the longest suspension cable bridge in the whole world!). It takes more than two minutes to get across that bridge! Part of the reason you should go is because of the route; everything the built for the 2012 APEC summit built is now used by FEFU. It is living history of a major part of what you will study on the Far East Studies Program!
Step 3: Pass security
After you get off at stop “ДВФУ Копрус” (FEFU Campus) (note: the announcement is slightly deceiving as it will say Laboratory and then directly after “следуший стоп ДВФУ Копрус” when they actually are the same stop) you will be greeted by security guards who will direct you to the head security office. You’ll need your passport and they will write your name down. Your friend should meet you there, so that security can check them off as well. Make sure you have your friend’s phone number, so you can call them, if need be!
Step 4: Pass more security
Every building has an individual security force. I was denied entrance to some buildings simply because some of the security guards were not as friendly as others. Remember to be very nice to these guys because they have the power to let you in or not, based on their mood. When I visited, my friend Alina took back entrances and sought out the nice security guards. You’ll have to sign in when you arrive and sign out before you leave.
Step 5: Visit the beach
The campus is huge. It is so big there is a shuttle service to get around (and it is free). The main humanities building is a must see, but the coastline is the prettiest place on campus. You’ll have a great view of Russky Bridge and a number of boats in the sea! You’ll also have the opportunity to see the whole campus on the pier. There are food places all over the campus, ranging from sushi bars to fast food cafes.
You can simply take the #15 back to VSUES (though it will take awhile). They run every 15 minutes it seemed (but that might be at peak busy level). I recommend you get off at the фуникулер stop and walk the three blocks back to VSUES (the route that the 15 takes ends at покровский парк, which makes the фуникулер the closest stop to VSUES on the way back). Remember that buses typically stop running at 10pm, so unless you want to take a taxi back, keep this in mind. Also keep in mind that visitors must leave the FEFU campus before 11pm.
While it is a jewel of a school, there are still major problems. Particularly in the dorm hotels (yes, they are hotels that serve as dorms. Check out the pictures of some rooms here). A lack of light in the hallways was one of them. You will feel like you are walking into a horror movie. When I asked why, Alina simply responded that this was how it was all the time. Get used to having “это Россия” (it’s Russia) be a legitimate answer. Alina told me that taking showers was a problem as water turns yellow if you want heat. Cold water will be clear, but warm water will be yellow.
Security might have been extra tight when I went because a Chinese ambassador (or someone important from China) was there. A long line of standard black vehicles rolled in with Chinese flags and Russian military leaders were standing as guard to greet them. I didn’t stick around to see who it was as I was already feeling heat from all the security watching me take pictures. Some guards told me I was not allowed to take pictures in the buildings, but others allowed me. It depends on who you talk to.
To conclude, the process of going to FEFU is as exciting as being at FEFU. You get the quintessential Vladivostok experience passing over all the recently created architecture and visiting the place that the 2012 APEC conference was held!