St. Petersburg

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St. Petersburg, Russia Study Abroad Program: One program – Four countries (In addition to spending 4 weeks in St. Petersburg, program participants will visit Finland, Sweden, and Estonia as a part of a 4 day-cruise)


Group in front of dormsFew cities offer the stunning attractions of St. Petersburg, City of the Tsars. Created by Peter the Great as his “Window on Europe,” St. Petersburg is often referred to as the Venice of the north as it combines its Russian heritage with a European outlook. As one of the world’s architectural treasures, the city provides a backdrop filled with gold-domed cathedrals and Baroque palaces, museums, and ornate government buildings all of which seem to flow into the canals and waterways that divide the city. The natural beauty of the city is enhanced in June and July as the city experiences “White Nights,” a blending of twilight into dawn giving the city almost 24 hours of daylight.  The program offers excursions to several of the palaces and stately homes of Russian tsars that surround the city including Peterhoff, a magnificent palace with fountains flowing down to the Baltic, and Catherine’s Palace with its renowned amber room. Experience the music, art, literature, good food and great entertainment offered by this splendid city, St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Web Links About the Program

Guy by RiverProgram Location

Considered the cultural heart of modern Russia, St. Petersburg, also known as the "Venice of the North" is one of the architectural treasures of Europe. The city is quickly gaining a reputation around the world as a city known for its culture and exciting night life. From classical ballet and opera to modern rock and traditional Russian folk music, and sports, the city offers something for everyone. Few cities can boast as many museums as St. Petersburg. From the Hermitage to the Russian Museum, the Natural Science Museum, the state Museum of Ethnography, culture abounds in St. Petersburg. There's even a vodka Museum, Bread Museum, and Chocolate Museum. In June and July the city's nightlife is enhanced by "White Nights," twenty-four hours of daylight where the people of the city seem to shop, eat, and party all night. The palaces and stately homes provide a glimpse into a time when tsars ruled the county. In the post-Soviet period, St. Petersburg has regained its reputation as a city of Soviet period, St. Petersburg has regained its reputation as a city of sophisticated, urban people with a taste for the good things in life.

Program Dates and Structure

Participants depart for St. Petersburg from Atlanta June 27 and return July 27, 2015. Classes are three-hour courses and there is a two-hour required Russian Culture course.  Each course meets in class sessions two days a week and has a required day-long field experience each week. Weekends involve planned group excursions to important cultural and historical sites in the St. Petersburg area.    

KremlinA special feature of the program is a cruise from St. Petersburg to Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm, (Sweden) and Tallin (Estonia), departing on Thursday evening and returning to St. Petersburg on Monday morning. Students will get a chance to see three additional countries that have close historical and geographical ties to Russia. Participants will spend 4 nights on board Princess Anastasia and will receive 4 buffet breakfasts and 4 buffet dinners. Students will need to have extra money for souvenirs, entry fees to museums on shore, lunch, etc 

The program also provides an optional three-day excursion to Russia’s capital city of Moscow.  Guided tours of the city and of the Kremlin and its museums and churches, a visit to Red Square, a walking tour of old Moscow, and a visit to a world-famous Russian circus are included in the excursion.

Program Costs

The package cost of $4950 for the four-week program includes: Round-trip airfare from Atlanta to Russia, Russian Visa, transportation from the airport to the campus and return to the airport, breakfast every day, a primary health insurance policy providing coverage for medical expenses, 4 day Baltic Sea cruise which stops in Finland, Sweden, and Estonia (breakfast buffet and dinner buffet included every night), 40 trips on the on the St. Petersburg subway system, and a primary health insurance policy providing coverage for medical expenses.

The package cost does not include tuition, additional meals, fieldtrips associated with the classes, passport and related expenses, spending money, travel to Atlanta, or other costs beyond those listed above. 

Dinner Time

Health Matters and Insurance

Participants are provided with health-care from CISI insurance (Cultural Insurance Services International) that covers them while they are abroad. Students with special medical problems may be required to provide a physician's assurance of their ability to undertake foreign travel and study. It is not possible for the European Council to guarantee accessible facilities abroad for students with special needs.

Participants should bring medications they regularly depend upon and should have copies of prescriptions in generic form in case they need to acquire additional medications. 

No special immunizations are needed to enter Russia, and the International Immunization Certificate is not required.

Passports and Visas

Students taking part in the program will be required to obtain a visa in addition to having a valid passport. Passports must be valid for at least six months into the future after the end of the program. If you passport expires on or before December 30th, 2015 then in accordance with Russia Visa rules and regulations you must apply for a new passport. Non US citizens should contact the program director to determine if a Visa is required. Participants are required to e-mail a scan of the information page from their passport to the European Council no later than March 16, 2015 . Passport scans received after that date will be subject to late fees, please see "Deadlines" for more information. Additionally, if passports are submitted late, there may be additional penalites from the Russia Visa agency to expedite processing.

In order to obtain an invitation, which is the first step toward obtaining a visa, you must send a scanned copy of the information page of your passport to Irina McClellan at by March 16, 2015. Once students supply the European Council with their passports, the European Council will provide you with instructions on how to obtain a Visa for travel to Russia.

Please note that the group will be traveling to Russia on a 30-day Tourist Visa. If you plan to extend your stay in Russia beyond the length of the program, you will need to notify the program director and apply for a 90-day Student Visa, which will have additional requirements, including an HIV-test (the test results are valid for three months prior to visa application thus the test should be taken in April or May 2015 and the results should be available by the time of the mandatory student orientation on May 16, 2015).

Gulf of Finland

For everything you may need to know about getting a passport click on the link below:

State Department - Passport Services and Information

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The site for the four-week program is the campus of St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University (SSPU), one of the city’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in Russia. Located in a safe residential area, the site offers access to St. Petersburg’s theatres, museums, historical landmarks, and lively nightlife.  

Dormitory facilities are provided at St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University’s international building referred to as IMOP. Students stay in large double suites, with two students in each room. Each suite shares a bathroom and kitchenette complete with a refrigerator and a microwave oven. Internet and phone access is also available in each room. A cafeteria and laundry facilities are located at IMOP.  The cafeteria staff strives to provide a balance of traditional Russian meals with the occasional American standard.  Breakfast will be offered everyday as part of the program; however hot lunches can be purchased at the university's cafeteria on weekdays. 


Group and Optional Excursions

The program includes several planned group excursions which allow you the opportunity to tour palaces, and museums and experience Russian culture.

Opera HouseExcursions will include

Moscow Excursion
A special feature of the program is an optional three-day excursion to the capital city of Moscow. The trip begins with an overnight train ride followed by a bus tour of the city. Students discover the treasures of Red Square with guided tours of the Kremlin including its museums and churches. Moscow gives students a different perspective on Russian history and culture. A visit to the world famous Russian circus and a walking our of the city are also included. The cost for the excursion is an additional $600.

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Red SquareProgram Costs

The package cost of $4950 for the four-week program includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare between Atlanta and St. Petersburg
  • 4 day Baltic Sea cruise to Finland, Estonia, and Sweden (breakfast buffet and dinner buffet included)
  • Overnight stay in Frankfurt, Germany on the return flight back to Atlanta
  • Accommodations in St. Petersburg for the full four weeks
  • Breakfast everyday in St. Petersburg
  • Roundtrip transportation between the St. Petersburg airport and the campus
  • Travel pass good for 40 trips on St. Petersburg subway system
  • Six tours of the city and suburbs that include the city’s most significant museums and other landmarks
  • A primary health insurance policy providing coverage for medical expenses
  • Visa registration fees
  • A farewell party

The package cost does not include tuition, textbooks, passport and related expenses, spending money, travel to or from Atlanta, or any other costs beyond those listed above.

The cost of the Moscow excursion is $600. This includes roundtrip train travel between St. Petersburg and Moscow, 2 days in Moscow, hotel accommodations in central Moscow for 2 nights, guided tours of the city and the Kremlin, admission to the Russian circus, and breakfasts while in Moscow.

Students should plan to budget a minimum of $1500 for souvenirs, theater tickets, entrance fees, and evening entertainment. Some course excursions might involve additional fees; course instructors will inform students if such fees apply.

All costs are subject to change because of unanticipated increases in airfares or other program elements or fluctuations in monetary exchange rates. The European Council makes every effort to keep program costs as advertised and will inform prospective participants of any changes as they occur.

A $200, non-refundable application fee is due at the time of application. This fee is part of the total program cost. Payments can be made by credit card or debit card through the EC website.

WeaponPayment Deadlines

March 2, 2015 - Application form and $300 non-refundable application fee due
March 9, 2015 - First payment of $2325 due
April 7, 2015 - Final payment of $2325 due
April 18, 2015 - Payment of $600 for the optional Moscow Excursion due

Application fees & other payments are applied toward purchase of airline tickets and other costs related to the program. Note the $300 application fee is non-refundable and covers processing and reservation fees. Participants who withdraw from a program after the application deadline receive a refund according to the following schedule:

Withdrawal before March 9

all but $300 will be refunded

Withdrawal between March 10 and March 18

all but $500 will be refunded

Withdrawal between March 19 and April 1

all but $850 will be refunded

Withdrawal between April 2 and April 30

all but $2000 will be refunded

Withdrawal after April 30

No money will be refunded

Courses in the 2015 summer program in St. Petersburg are part of the regular course offerings of member institutions; therefore, students may apply for loans or grants for which they would normally be eligible. Students should apply for financial aid at the campus where they are registering for courses. Campus representatives will assist students in obtaining information about financial aid.

Students must meet all campus requirements in applying for financial aid.

Students should plan to budget a minimum of $200 per week for additional meals. If students plan extended travel outside of St. Petersburg area or major shopping, additional funds should be budgeted. For more information, contact program director.

Important deadlines: Peterhoff

Application Due- March 2nd (spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis and students are encouraged to apply early)

First Payment- March 9th

Final Payment- April 7th 

-4 passport photos due March 16th (see late fee schedule below)

-An electronic copy of your passport is due March 16th. Faxed and Mailed copies are not accepted. (see late fee schedule below)

-An all-day*Mandatory* student orientation on May 16th in Milledgeville, Georgia at Georgia College & State University.

Late Fees for Photos & Passports

  • Items received between March 17 – March 25: $50 late fee
  • Items received between March 26 – April 5: $75 late fee
  • Items received between April 6 – April 12: $100 late fee
  • Items received on April 13th or after will be charged the $100 late fee and an additional $5/day.

Flight Deviation/Separate Airfare

Airfare is included in the price of the program. However, if you wish to arrive to Europe sooner, or stay later, there is a *possibility* that you can do this at an additional expense to you. Students are also allowed to do 100% of their airfare; however, in order to keep our group rate only a certain number of students may do this and must receive authorization from the EC Coordinator. If you are given, permission to do your own airfare, there will be a deduction from your SECOND payment. All deviation and separate airfare request must be submitted by April 14th and these opportunities are provided on a first come, first serve basis. All requests submitted after April 14th will be denied.

*Please keep in mind that if you plan extended travel in Russia you will need to contact your program director ASAP as this will affect your Visa. 


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Course Descriptions

LD- Lower Division UD-Upper Division

The exact course number will differ from institution to institution. Check with the college or university where you plan to register to determine the course number that will be assigned to the class. All courses, with the exception of the two credit hour Culture course, provide three credit hours. To find out more information about any of the courses contact the program director by e-mail.



Please chose one course

Intro to Sociology (LD)

Dr. Sandra Godwin (Georgia College & State)

Would you like to develop research skills? Would you like to know yourself better? Regardless of your career plans, research skills and self-knowledge will help you achieve your goals. You will learn how to use sociological perspectives and research methods (ethnography and auto-ethnography) to improve your skills of observation and self-reflection. We will explore the experience of being in an unfamiliar place to help us understand what we take for granted about ourselves and our society.

Writing about Russian Literature (UD)

Dr. Michael Rifenburg (North Georgia)

A wealthy women caught in unpardonable sin; a man in physical pain delighting in suffering; a futile, poetic duel for a woman; Satan disguising himself as a talking cat in Moscow- modern Russian literature investigates the depth of the human condition in vast ways. Reading and writing about Anna Karenina, Notes from the Underground, Eugene Onegin, and Master and Margarita sets a foundation for learning more about the Russian literature tradition, one that resonates with the contemporary issues we face. Each week, we will discuss one of the novels mentioned about and write about a different element of fiction.  

Latvia GroupRussian Language (LD/UD)

Dr. Irina Gladkikh, St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University

 Three credit hours for one of the following Russian language courses: 1001, 1002, 2001, 2002, 3001, or 3002. Placement test are administered before classes begin. Field trips are designed to allow students to practice language skills and include visits to a supermarket, restaurants, walks around the University neighborhood, and other opportunities to apply the language skills acquired in class.

St. Petersburg in War and Revolution (UD)
Dr. Maria Chumovitskaya (St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University)

This course will examine the cultural, social, and political history of St. Petersburg, a major center of both Russian and European history. It will focus on how residents of this city experienced war and revolution in the early modern and modern ages. It begins by considering St. Petersburg as the birthplace of Russia as a European empire and as a major center of Enlightenment thought. It then examines how this city in an age of revolution led to intellectual and cultural trends that challenged the tsarist state and Russian society. The course next turns to St. Petersburg as the epicenter of Russia’s revolutions of 1905 and 1917 that brought the end of the old order and the beginnings of the Soviet Union’s experiment in socialism. It concludes by considering how this city, as Leningrad, served as a defender of Russia’s revolutionary heritage during the Russian Civil War, the upheavals of the 1920's and 1930's, and lastly during World War Two. Students will be expected to gain a greater appreciation for Russia’s role in world history and European history, as well as important skills in writing and historical analysis.

International Economic Relations (UD)

Dr. Elena Vdovina (St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University)

The course explores issues of international economic relations including trade, financial markets, lending and investment. Russia’s economy will be looked at from the international perspective – adapting to new realities as an emerging economy. Russia’s multiple resources bothorr rrn business from various areas (oil, gas, high tech, etc). Russia’s attempt to more actively participate in international economic processes (WTO, EBRD) will be explored. The controversies of Russia’s governmental measures in economic spheres affecting companies’ policy are also focused on.  


Please choose only one

Gender, Race & Communism (UD)

Dr. Sandra Godwin (Georgia College & State)

This course explores the influence of communism on feminism in the United States. It is an intersectional study examining the dynamics of gender, race, and social class-related dynamics and social movements. It also takes a contemporary look at feminism through the recent protests of the Russian band Pussy Riot.

Travel Writing (LD)

Dr. Michael Rifenburg (North Georgia)

In Russia, you will experience first-hand a wealth of new sights and sounds, people and places. So capture this expierence in writing! Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing provides tips on sketching characters and dialogue. Off the Beaten Path: Stories by Russian Hitchhikers and Black Earth City: When Russia Ran Wild (And So Did We) are narratives grounded in the Russian way of life and will be used as instructional guides for learning more about Russia but also for examples of strong travel writing. Through the course, students will sharpen the writing skills necessary to capture their unique traveling experience. 

Class TripRussian Literature (LD/UD)

Dr. Tatiana Shustrova (St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University)
Imagine reading Russian literature on the banks of the Neva River or visiting the former apartments of famous Russian Writers. This course surveys Russian works in English translation. Students study the works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Gogol, Zamiatin, and Bulgakov. Field trips include visits to the Russian National Library, the Dostoevsky Museum, and other important landmarks of Russian literature.

Russian Business Culture & Business Environment

Dr. Tatiana Khvatova (St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University)

Pre-Requistes: Principles of Micro Economics AND Principles of Macro Economics

This course is aimed at giving students information about Russian business culture and business environment in Russia. Key concepts of Russian business culture (collectivism, egalitarianism and soul) are considered together with structure and hierarchy in Russian companies, working relationships in Russia, business practices in Russia, attitude towards foreign partners, gender aspects etc. Such partial things as business dress code, meals and business etiquette, gifts are also taken into consideration. Course related field trips will include visits to the Russian Business Angels Association, Business incubator Ingria, and Baltica Brewery. 

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Apply to the Program

Directions on how to apply: 

  1. Download and complete the European Council application
  2. Turn the application to your campus representative. If you do not know who your representative is click here
  3. After you submit your application to your campus rep, please pay the $300 non-refundable application fee.

Bear Love*Your application will not be processed until we receive BOTH your application and $300 deposit.

** Spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis. Some programs will fill as early as November. Once a program is full, students will be placed on the waitlist. Please do not be discouraged if you’re placed on the waitlist as we always anticipate a 15% drop.

 Any full-time or part-time student is eligible to participate in the program as long as the student will be 18 years of age by the time of departure.  Students from institutions that are not part of the University System of Georgia must become a transient student at Valdosta State University. Click here for information on becoming a transient at Valdosta State University

An application form is available above; copies of the form are also available from campus representatives listed on this site. Completed applications should be submitted to the campus representatives, along with a required application fee of $300 (to be paid online). Campus representatives forward completed applications to the program office at Valdosta State University.  Applications will not be processed by the EC office until both the application form (approved by the campus representative) and the $300 application fee are received.

Because of space limitations, acceptance is on a first come, first served basis, according to the date of receipt of the application and application fee.  Students are encouraged to apply well in advance of the application deadline to assure them of a place in the program.

The application deadline for the 2015 program is March 2, 2015.

Students must be in good standing in order to be admitted to the program. Completion of an application form does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Note also that individual campuses may require letters of reference or other information beyond that required by the European Council. 

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What Students Have To Say

  • I would say to bring enough money that you can fully enjoy the trip and not have to be always worried about spending money - you'll only be in this city at this time with these people once. I would say to NEVER miss a field trip or excursion and be prepared to stay up late and get up early. I am still catching up on sleep but it was so worth it. Don't waste your time and money to sit in the common room. I would say you should take loads of pictures and do a daly blog like I did firstly to have for yourself, because you'll forget things I promise, but so your family and friends can stay up to date on what you're up to and you won't be overwhelmed trying to tell them a months worth of experiences.
  • Regret nothing. Get out an explore the city! Don't you dare sleep your days away!
  • I loved all the guides excursions and all the history that I learned. I wanted to go to Moscow and I did. I'm glad that I spent the extra money. The cruise was wonderful. The cabins were little and there was not too much to do on the boat but I loved going to Finland, Sweden and Estonia
  • I thought that IMOP (the dorm building) was an incredible place to live full of opportunity. I had the pleasure of making friends that I spent many nights with that represent over 20 different countries. 
  • Be prepared to try new things and to plan for things a little bit ahead of time.

Here are some blogs that previous students wrote while on their trip to St. Petersburg:

Gavin Merwin's Blog

The Bold Wanderer

Lastly, click here to see a video created by one of our students as well!


Happy in RussiaIf you do not have a campus contact or are unable to obtain the information that you need, please write or call Valdosta State University, the coordinating institution for the European Council, at the following address:

Beverly Vantine

European Council Coordinator

PH: 229-259-2591

Irina McClellan

 Russia Program Director


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