What our students say about their year abroad
When our students come back from their year abroad they talk about their months in Russia, the Czech Republic and Poland as some of the best of their lives. Have a look at what they have shared with us.
We also keep in touch while the students are away and get to find out what they do apart from their studies. See some of the recent updates below.
Our students in Russia
Our Russian year abroad students are currently on language courses in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yaroslavl and Petrozavodsk. Several weeks into living in Russia, language proficiency begins to really improve as you get into your course and the Russian way of life. There’s plenty of free time so people find interesting ways of improving their Russian and making Russian friends. Paid work is hard to come by - although it’s possible to find work as a tutor of English - but there are other, unpaid opportunities to really make your CV have an impact...
"I spent the second semester of my year abroad at the Benedict School in St. Petersburg. The city is really amazing with its majestic buildings and huge rivers and there is a never-ending list of things to do in and around the city such as the Hermitage, Church of Spilled Blood, Peterhof and various circuses and theatres.
The school itself was right in the middle of the city and classes were usually finished by the afternoon so there was plenty of time to explore and see the sights. The people can seem quite unfriendly at first but you find that, once you start talking to them, they are actually very kind and generous people and you can make a lot new friends."
"I am so glad I had the good fortune to live and breathe the vibrant culture of Russia and I will never forget the time I spent there. As Russian is the only language I study I had the advantage of spending both semesters there.
The whole year was an adventure. During the first half, I lived in St Petersburg and what an action-packed half it was. My time consisted of visiting extravagant palaces, historic churches, snow-covered parks, a 27-hour, third-class train ride to the edge of the Arctic Circle, a speedboat and an ex-KGB agent – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
For the second half, I went to Volgograd. This half of the year meant more to me as I became part of the family I stayed with. A real insight into Russian life is to live with a family, and this is exactly what you get to do on your year abroad. With my family we went on walks together in knee deep snow, travelled out to the dacha for BBQ´s and vodka, drove for five hours to a farm for a weekend break with friends of my Russian family, and spent the day bobbing up and down in a vast salt lake on the border of Kazakhstan.
Oh, and to add to the mix I went with some friends to the largest Buddhist temple in Europe! For me, that year with the people I met, the families I was welcomed into and the things I saw and did amount to something that can never be forgot
ten and I will treasure for a lifetime. The prospect of it all now may seem daunting and it may seem scary at first but believe me when I say that it could just be the best thing you will ever do. Eventful won´t even begin to describe it!"
"I stayed in Saint Petersburg in the Autumn semester 2009. This photograph of me (Anna) and three other students of Russian (James, Nichola and Alex) was taken in the grounds of the beautiful palace of Catherine the Great. They were stunning especially in the thick blanket of snow that was falling.
One of the highlights of staying in St Petersburg are all the imposing imperial palaces in nearby towns. I enjoyed my time in Russia.
Saint Petersburg is a beautiful city. One of the lasting impressions it has left on me is that I now completely understand the short story by Gogol 'The Overcoat'. I became obsessed with my coat just like poor Akaky Akakievich. I recommened reading this before you go to St Petersburg for the winter semester and you will probably see what I mean."
"I spent half of my year abroad studying at Masaryk University in Brno in the Czech Republic and I loved it. Brno is a great city (cheaper and friendlier than Prague) and the ideal place to go as an Erasmus student because the university´s International Student Club are ready to help with any problems.
As part of my 'Czech for Foreigners' course I spent my time studying Czech grammar, phonetics and literature as well as having conversation classes and even a course in creative writing. I found the level of language required quite challenging but it was also very rewarding and a totally different experience to studying in Sheffield.
There were plenty of things to do during the week (ISC club nights at Mandarin were pretty popular and city-wide events like the Museums Night are good fun) and at the weekends I often travelled with friends either around the Czech Republic or further afield to places like Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Krakow thanks to lovely (cheap) Czech buses.
I was a bit nervous about things before I went (including having to share a bedroom in halls) but everything turned out well and I would definitely recommend Brno – I hope to get back there very soon."
"The four months I spent in St Petersburg were the best four of my life so far.
There was so much to see and do in the city - the sights, the bars, the theatres and art galleries - that the closest I got to homesickness was wishing that my family were there so they could enjoy it with me!
I got to know the other students from Sheffield so much better and we also made friends with some Russians. We had a 3-day weekend and therefore plenty of time to explore the city and any nearby towns and palaces we fancied visiting!
The course took place in a former monastery building next to a stunning cathedral. Having our everyday lessons next to a tourist attraction where Russians go for wedding photos, was rather surreal after being taught in Sheffield's mixed bag of buildings... The course was well-taught and thankfully involved no huge essays or major exams: a welcome freedom before final year!
I stayed with a host family near the city centre: I had been expecting a freezing cold, grey, crumbling tower block but nobody ended up in accommodation like this! The hostess was so patient and even pretended pretty well to be interested in my halting attempts to explain where I'd been that day, what pancake I'd tried, why do all the young couples spend the entire metro journey - including escalators - kissing...
I got a real insight into Russians and the freedom to spend my time off exploring this fantastic city."
"My time in Krakow was an eye-opener to Polish culture - the food, the people and the way of life were all quite different but I had a great time getting to know them! I had a lot of fun exploring all that Krakow has to offer - parks, cinemas, cafes, bars, concert halls, theatres - and getting to know some great people, either from my course or from a tandem evening.
I also enjoyed the opportunity to visit other places I had never been before, such as Warsaw and Gdansk, and see more of the Polish countryside around Krakow.
All in all it was a great experience and I would definitely recommend Poland to anyone going on their year abroad!"