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Home / Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) / Frequently Asked Questions on Common Matters /

Frequently Asked Questions on Common Matters

Frequently Asked Questions on Common Matters

How expensive is life in Russia?

We estimate it costs a minimum of $300 - $400 / month to cover living costs in Russia. Day to day living costs in St Petersburg and Volgograd are slightly lower than in Moscow, although provided you avoid ex-pat hang-outs in Moscow, the cost of living here is still a lot lower than in the West. The prices below should only be considered a rough guide (take the upper limits for Moscow and the lower limits for Volgograd, with St Petersburg somewhere in between):

Eating, Drinking and Dining: Your weekly grocery bill is likely to be around $40-80 per person (all prices are in USD). You can buy a fairly decent three-course meal out for about $20 per person. If you eat out at lunchtime during the week, you can get a three-course business lunch for around $5. A 0.5 l glass of beer costs on average $2.

Evening Entertainment: A ticket to an English-language cinema costs $10, but you can see films in Russian for $5 or less. Theatre, opera and ballet tickets can cost as little as $3 but expect to pay $10 - $20 for decent seats. Entrance to museums and art galleries can cost anything from 50 cents to $10, depending on the place and what discounts you can get. Cover charges for nightclubs, if there is one, usually average at about $5 - $10.

Transport: A monthly metro pass costs between 250 roubles ($8) and 500 roubles ($16). Bus, tram and trolleybus tickets cost 10 - 50 cents (for one journey, irrespective of length). Trips and Excursions: Day trips to Golden Ring towns can be arranged independently for $10 - $20. Train travel in Russia is extremely good value (a 3rd class ticket from Moscow-St Petersburg costs about $12). Outside Moscow and St Petersburg it is usually possible to arrange accommodation for $20 - $30 per night, although that may mean Soviet-style hotels where service and decor leave a lot to be desired.

Clothes: It is worth buying winter items (hat, scarf, big coat, fur-lined boots) here, as they are better value than in the West and are more suited to the Russian climate. However, other clothes tend to be poorer quality for higher prices, so we recommend you do your clothes shopping before you arrive.

If you want to make long-distance telephone calls you should use international phone cards that offer very good rates: a $20 card lasts almost 2 hours when calling Europe and America from Russia. Any calls you make within the city you are living in will be free of charge.

How is it best to bring money?

Although many prices are listed in US Dollars or Euros (including on this website), the only currency accepted in Russia is the Russian Rouble. The Rouble cannot currently be purchased outside Russia, so we recommend bringing cash cards/credit cards to withdraw money from ATMs (which are common in major cities). As back up, it is advisable to bring cash US Dollars (in good condition, with no creases or tears), which can be exchanged at exchange points all over the city, many of which are open 24 hours a day. Travellers' cheques tend to be less convenient as few banks exchange them.

How long does it take to get a Russian visa? What kind of visa will I get?

The type of visa an educational institution issues for you may depend on how long you want to study with us. For courses of less than 3 months, they can issue tourist visas invitations. If your course is longer than 3 months, then they can issue a 6- or 12-month multi-entry business visa. Sometimes they issue invitations for initial 3-month single-entry visas, which can be converted to year-long multi-entry visas after arrival in Russia.

It usually takes 2 - 4 weeks for us to process invitations for visas, plus 3 - 5 days to have them delivered to your address by courier. Visa processing at your nearest Russian Consulate can take from 1 day to 3 weeks, depending on how much you are willing to pay, and whether you apply by post or in person.

The visa process is undeniably time-consuming, and can sometimes involve frustrating delays, so if you need to get a Russian visa we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Do you provide health and/or medical insurance for your students?

Most of our educational institutions are able to offer only Russian state-subsidized health insurance provided by the old dilapidated system of Russian clinics and hospitals, so we strongly recommend securing your own international health and medical insurance before you arrive. There are some high-quality European and American medical centres in Moscow and St Petersburg (e.g. American Medical Centre, International SOS, Euromed), and good private Russian clinics in Moscow, St Petersburg and Volgograd. You might also consider having an evacuation rider included in your policy. Please remember that in order to obtain a visa valid for longer than three months, Russian law requires visitors to be HIV-tested before (or sometimes after) they arrive.

What is the weather like in Russia? What clothes should I bring?

The weather in Moscow, St Petersburg and Volgograd varies greatly according to season. The winters are long and cold (with lots of snow and average temperatures around -10 degrees Celsius), and the summers are hot with occasional thunderstorms. As for what types of clothes to bring, it depends on what time of year it is, but remember two crucial points about life in these cities: 1) You will be walking a lot; feet and public transportation are the main modes of transportation in large Russian cities, so your shoes will take a beating and will get quite dirty, i.e. light-coloured shoes are not recommended 2) The same goes for clothes. Russians do wear bright things (shoes included), but dirt naturally stands out more on brighter clothes than it does on darker ones. So, you can see why a tendency toward wearing darker clothes can be seen on the streets of Russian cities. No one wants to be washing their clothes every day! For more information on the weather, try visiting CNN Online or the BBC website. If you Russian is good enough, you can find current broadcast here.

Is it safe to live in Russia?

Is it safe to live in New York or London? Moscow and St Petersburg are neither safer nor more dangerous than any other large cities, although there is admittedly a higher than average risk of icicles falling off high buildings and hitting you on the head during the spring thaw. The mafia will take no notice of you whatsoever. Recent events have obviously made terrorism a concern, but sadly, no city in the world is immune from that threat these days. Smaller cities may be considered slightly quieter, and thus safer, but the following advice applies to any of them.

It's all just a question of common sense: you should be careful when going out late at night, and try not to draw attention to yourself, i.e. don't talk loudly in English or flash money/valuables around. If you go out for the evening, stay in a group, and plan it so that you accompany each other home right up to the front door. Women are strongly recommended not to walk home alone after 11pm, and they should be prepared to put up with occasional verbal harassment late at night, as Russian males who have had too much to drink might well shout things at girls on the street. It's irritating and impolite, but if you ignore them they almost always stop bothering you. Guys should also be careful when out late at night in large English-speaking groups, as nationalism is on the rise in Russia as a whole. People of dark skin tones will be more at risk of abuse than others, and may be discriminated against by the police (i.e. stopped more often for ID checks). Smaller streets can be badly lit, so try and keep to the main streets if possible when it's dark. Avoid carrying with you more cash than you need - pick-pocketing is a problem in the metro, particularly in Petersburg. None of this advice is intended to scare you, and in any case, most of it applies anywhere in the world. With luck, your stay here should pass off without you being hassled in any way, but you should know the risks in order to avoid them.

What are the procedures for arriving in Russia?

Students for Moscow generally arrive at one of Moscow's two international airports, Sheremetevo 2 or Domodedovo. The latter is preferable as it was completely renovated in 2002, and is now an extremely modern and efficient airport comparable with any in Western Europe. Sheremetevo is older and can be worse in terms of passport control and baggage delays. In St Petersburg the main international airport is Pulkovo. Some cities in the Siberia and the Far East of Russia also have airports of their own. The exit process is basically the same in all airports. After getting off the plane (generally directly into the airport building) you should follow the signs to passport control. Before you go through, make sure you have filled in both sections of a migration card (often handed out on the plane, otherwise available on desks in the passport control area). Hand in this card together with your passport and visa, have the migration card stamped (and one copy returned to you), and go through to baggage collection and customs. Find the appropriate baggage conveyor belt for your flight, and avoid the trolley caddies who will charge a fortune for pushing your luggage 50 metres.

Frequently Asked Questions on Problems of Medical Assistance for Foreign Students

What are the terms for medical assistance for the foreign students in Russia?
Emergency for the foreign citizens is rendered free of charge and without delay. Planned medical assistance should be paid.

What cases are considered to be an emergency type and who carries out the medical assistance?
The emergency is rendered by the therapeutic-prophylactic institutions of state and municipal system of public health, as well as the health workers or persons obliged by law or a special rule to render first aid in the cases of instant danger to foreign students life or urgent medical intervention (consequences of accidents, traumas, poisonings).
After a foreign citizen is out of the mentioned state he can be provided the planned assistance.

What cases are considered to be a planned assistance type?
A planned assistance for foreign students is rendered in cases of health problems which do not pose a threat to their life.

How can I pay for the rendered planned medical aid?
The planned medical aid is rendered for the foreign citizens in accordance with the contract for the paid medical service and / or obligatory medical insurance. Thus a foreign citizen can pay from his own means for the medical advice, laboratory and instrumental diagnostics, staying in hospital, etc., but the most convenient and much more economical form of access to the paid medical assistance is to buy a policy of voluntary medical insurance. The insured gets a complete outpatient and hospital medical aid without extra charges.

Where it is better to buy the medical insurance policy, at home before leaving for Russia or already in Russia at the place of studies?
From experience it is better and cheaper to buy the medical insurance police at the place of studies. Besides some medical insurance policies bought at home are invalid in Russia. At home it is advisable to buy a short-term policy for the time of your journey from your country to Russia.

What is the cost of the voluntary medical insurance policy in Russia?
The cost of the voluntary medical insurance policy depends on a region of Russia, an insurance company, a volume of agreed medical services. On the average at present a one-year policy costs from 50 up to 200 USD.

Are there any diseases which do not allow to their carrier to come for studies in Russia?
Yes, there are. The list of infectious diseases posing a threat for others, which is the cause of the refusal of issue or annulment of the permission for a part-time residence for foreign citizens and stateless persons in the Russian Federation is adopted by the Government of the Russian Federation Regulation # 188 dated 02.04.2003. The list includes: a disease induced by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), leprosy (the Hansen's disease), tuberculosis, infections with a predominantly sexual mode of transmission (syphilis, chlamydial lymphogranuloma (venereum), chancroid). Thus, the foreign citizens, whose examination determines the mentioned above diseases, are deported out of Russia to their native country for a medical treatment

How the foreign citizens are examined а for infectious diseases? Are the documents confirming the absence of dangerous infectious diseases received at home valid in Russia?
All the foreign citizens arriving in Russia for a long term (for studies) are obliged to pass the medical examination in medical establishments at the place of studies. The documents confirming the absence of dangerous infectious diseases received at home are invalid in Russia.

Is it possible to pass a medical examination at the expense of a voluntary medical insurance?
Yes, it is possible, if medical examination is included in the programme of the voluntary medical insurance, but it leads to the rise in price of the voluntary medical insurance for the cost of a medical examination cost.

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