About to finish high school? Take a year off in Russia

Volunteer programs are among the best ways to get to know a country intimately.

Volunteer programs are among the best ways to get to know a country intimately.

Kirill Yasko/RIA Novosti
The idea of a gap year, originating in the UK, is slowly becoming accepted around the world as a way to experience life before delving into a serious course of study. Russia offers numerous options for spending such a year. High school graduates (or those looking to take a year off from university) can find great ways to enjoy their time here, while also gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience. RBTH presents some of the more interesting program options.

Volunteer programs

Although there is a wealth of information on Russia in the media, the real life of the country can truly be understood only from the inside. Volunteer programs are among the best ways to get to know a country intimately.

CCUSA: Camp Counselors Program

Participants volunteer as a camp counselor for children between the ages of seven and 17 to teach English, lead the group and participate in outdoor activities. The length of the Summer Camp Counselors program is four or eight weeks.

Cost: $2,815 – $2,950 (depending on program length and type of insurance purchased). Food, transfer, insurance, accommodation, visa and round trip airfare from New York JFK to Moscow SVO are included.

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United Planet Long-Term Quest

United Planet is the U.S. and Canadian partner of the International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE). As a volunteer in Russia, you will be hosted by Lastochki, ICYE’s Russian partner organization. There are various options for volunteers: you could work with the disabled, military veterans, the elderly, or even in a Russian-French resource center. The program length is either six months or one year.

Cost: $8,995 – $12,295 (depending on program length). Food, transfer, insurance and accommodation are included. Flights and visa are not included.

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Love Volunteers: Volunteer in Russia

Volunteers will stay in Russia’s Venice of the North, St. Petersburg. Options for the program participants are varied: you can either teach English or upon the completion of an intensive Russian-language course, you can work in a major St. Petersburg hospital. Program length varies from two to 16 weeks.

Cost: $1,100 – $5,065 (depending on program length) plus a $249 registration fee. Food, transfer and accommodation are included. Flights, insurance and visa are not included.

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The Great Baikal Trail

The Great Baikal Trail offers the unique opportunity to visit the stunningly beautiful Lake Baikal in Siberia while participating in an eco-trail construction project as well as other educational and interpretative tasks. Each project lasts for two weeks.

Cost: ~$267 (equivalent or 20,000 rubles), accommodation and food are included. Visa, flights, transfer and insurance are not included.

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Studying Russian

Language immersion is the best way to study Russian. Cramming often can be ineffective, whereas everyday communication frequently delivers long-term results.

AIFS Study Abroad

AIFS courses include art history, literature, history, political science, Russian language and sociology in St. Petersburg. Courses are taught in both English and Russian. You can stay for a full academic year, or just the fall or spring semester.

Cost: $11,195 — $11,995 per semester (depending on whether food is included); visa, insurance and accommodation are included. Flights are not included.

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The Language Travel Company

The company offers a wide variety of Russian courses in St. Petersburg, including the option of taking individual lessons.

Cost: starts at $523 (depending on the type of course and options selected); visa, flights, insurance and transfer are not included.

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There are many CREF programs for studying Russian: standard group courses, business courses and more. Training centers are located in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod.

Cost: starts at ~$195 (equivalent to €180, depending on the course type and conditions); visa, flights, insurance, transfer, food and accommodation are not included.

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Teaching English

Proper foreign language skills are highly valued in Russia today, as many Russians work for international companies or firms that have foreign partners. Native speakers of English are in great demand.


The GeoVisions English Tutor program offers an opportunity for participants to teach your host family English for up to three months while experiencing Russian culture and learning conversational Russian in one of 13 Russian cities.

Cost: $1,489; accommodation, food and insurance are included. Flights, visa and transfer are not included.

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Cultural Homestay International (CHI)

The World Explorers is one of the most popular CHI programs allowing participants to combine living abroad, while gaining experience as an English tutor.

Cost: starts at $13.32 per day, 30 days minimum; accommodation and food are included. Flights, insurance and visa are not included.

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Encounter Russia

The Encounter Russia program offers participants the possibility of working as an English tutor or au pair with a Russian family. The minimum commitment is three months.

Cost: contact the organization to find out more; accommodation, food, insurance, flights, visa and transfer are generally included.

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Please note! To participate in the abovementioned programs you should be at least 18 years old. You will also need a business or travel visa (depending on the program). Most organizations are able to arrange it for you.

Read more: Why study Russian? Readers have their own reasons>>>

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