Summer Session Information Letter


Information letter


The summer program in Moscow is an exclusively USC program organized for USC students taking courses in Russian language and culture. The program is a part of the language and cultural training offered in the Slavic Department and was created to give USC students a practical insight into Russian culture and society.  Students rapidly increase their language skills while earning course units. The program uses USC syllabi,  textbooks and materials of the USC on-campus program and is run by the Language Director of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, who supervises the teaching of Russian on the  USC campus. The program was approved by the University curriculum committee as well as the Dean of the College office and the overseas programs department. The program was implemented in 2001 and has experienced tremendous success as noted by students and their parents.  USC program offers several levels of language classes, customized classes in modern Russian Culture and Society. Students can also sign up for independent research in Russia (undergraduate and graduate levels). Students may earn 4-6 credits by completing the classes and/or independent research.

The instructors are all Ph.D.s specializing in teaching Russian as a foreign language and are Russians teaching in Moscow Academy of Social Studies. They are specifically trained to teach USC language courses and are continuously employed for each program. Each summer the instructors are updated with a 2-weeks long workshop conducted by our staff.


USC summer program in Russia runs for 6 weeks: 5 weeks of classes in Moscow and a 1 week  tour of St. Petersburg.

The program uses the premises of the Academy of Social Studies in Moscow The location was chosen for: the best (safe, comfortable and clean) dormitory in Moscow, location (clean and safe area, proximity to the metro and to the center of Moscow) and closeness of the dormitories to the classes (In the Academy, the dorm is connected to the classes by a gallery), safety (24-hour security service).

The premises have gymnasium, library, food marts and fully equipped kitchen on the floor. Students’ rooms are for 1 or 2 people (students choose the rooms, the price of the rooms varies) There is 1 bathroom for 3 students in the unit of  each two rooms.

All of the instructors and administrative staff work on the premises.

In St Petersburg, the students live in a comfortable hostel situated in the very center of the city (a 5-minute walk to Nevsky Prospect the main street of the city, Hermitage) in the rooms for 2 or 3 people with  bathrooms for 2-3 rooms.


Students study in classes 4 hours a day, 4 days a week (Monday through Thursday, 10 to 2 with 15-minutes breaks). They have  minimum 2-hour homework assignments every day. Consultations in the dorm with the homework are provided. In the second half of the day, students can sign up for culinary and singing sessions, review and critique of Russian films; trips to theaters are also arranged . The program provides opportunities for  students to meet and interact with their Russian peers. All these activities are optional. Their goal is to keep students busy, but not overloaded, and to provide maximum educational experience in every area of Russian culture.  With few exceptions, most students avail themselves of  these educational opportunities.

On Fridays, the program has mandatory field trips where students practice their language skills according to the program ( i.e. go to the pharmacy to buy aspirin, go to the bank to find out how the banking system works, get acquainted with people in the dorm, etc). Some of the field trips have a strong cultural component and a variety of cultural experiences (i.e. going to the pantheon-cemetery of the famous Russians where students make small presentations on a famous Russian they know about, going to an art gallery and interviewing the owners about Russian modern art).

On Saturdays and Sundays the program provides excursions to museums, galleries and places of interest outside of Moscow:

  • Bus/boat excursion around Moscow,  Red square
  • excursion to Kremlin, Treasury Chamber of Russian czars ( history)
  • excursion to Tretiakov Gallery ( the largest collection of Russian art)
  • Kolomenskoye ( a museum park with a number of  buildings, palace where Peter the Great lived as a child), participation in a costumed performance of an old Russian wedding (history, culture)
  • Two of the old mansions in Moscow  (Ostankino, Kuskovo or Tsaritsyno)  ( history, music)
  • Museum of the WWII ( modern history)
  • Panorama of the war of 1812 ( with Napoleon) ( history)
  • 1-day trip to Iasnaya Polyana ( the place where Lev Tolstoy wrote most of his novels and is buried) or Khamovniki mansion where Lev Tolstoy lived during his “Moscow” period with the family ( literature)
  • One of Moscow monasteries ( religion)
  • 2-day trip to Suzdal ( 16-century town-museum, 4 hours away from Moscow) ( history, culture, folklore)
  • Folk art fair
  •  ballet performance ( art)
  •  circus performance (art)

The weekend excursions are mandatory. Students have several free days when they can go shopping, places that they would like to visit on their own (i.e. museums of Western art, literature museums) all the information and help with finding the places is provided.

Some changes in the excursion program may occur depending on availability of the tickets and shows or work time of the museums (they can be closed for restoration at the time of the program, etc.).

Excursions in Petersburg :

    • Bus/boat excursion around Petersburg ( depending on the weather);
    • Hermitage
    • One of summer palaces ( Tsarskoe selo, Gatchina, Pavlovsk)
    • Peterhoff
    • Peter and Paul fortress
    • Dostoevsky museum with a “Raskolnikov Petersburg” part;
    • Cathedrals of Petersburg


USC helps students  obtain the group rates for airline tickets (for the group more than 10 students) if all students agree to fly from LAX. If students fly from other places, they are responsible for the purchase of their own tickets. All students must arrive by the first day of classes. Students will be met in the airport by the director of the program, the driver and the car and transported to the dorm.

Students leave for St Petersburg by train accompanied by the program director. The transportation to and from the railway station as well as the tickets are provided by the program. After the tour in St. Petersburg ends, students will take the train back to Moscow and will be transported from the railway station to the airport to depart for US. Transportation to the airport is provided. If a student chooses to leave earlier or later, they are responsible for transportation from St Petersburg and to the airport. In case of emergency, the program director will help a student to change the tickets for the earlier date of travel and will provide the transportation to the airport.


Students will have access to the telephone in the dorm (there is only one telephone, so it may be busy in the evenings), email (on the first floor of the dorm) and the possibility of buying sim cards that will make their cell phones usable in Russia (check with your cell phone service). To be able to use their cell phones to call US, they will need to sign up for international program of their cell phone companies.

The parents can get in touch with the program director Tatiana Akishina at any time via email ( read daily and via telephone ( 011- 7499-131-7886) answering machine checked daily. Contact phones are:

Tel of the Dean’s office: (011 7495) 432-0584

Fax in Dean’s office: (011 7495) 432-3371

Dorm: (011-7495) 432-3315

Please, note that the difference in time with LA is 11 hours. The best time to call is 10 - 11 PM Pacific time. If you have difficulty in connecting with Russia, don’t hesitate to call Slavic Department: 213- 740- 2735 ( Susan Kechekian) and she will get in touch with Russia for you. The fax # of Slavic Department is 213-740 -8550


All students will acquire the University International Health Insurance that will allow them to use one of the international clinics in Moscow (if needed) and evacuation insurance. There is an American clinic in Moscow where American and European doctors are available 7 days a week. If students take some medicine on the regular basis, they need to take a full supply for the trip. If they have health conditions that may require special attention, the program director needs to be informed.

The USC overseas policy will cover students only for the duration of the program. The telephone for USC student health insurance coordinator: 213-740-0551

The students are required to provide the emergency contact information to the overseas studies office, Slavic department in USC and the program director that will call the provided telephone numbers immediately in case of any emergency.


Students are responsible for paying:

  • the cost of the units the student enrolls for
  • the airline tickets ( $1000.00 - $1300.00)
  • the dorm ( $800.00 - $1000.00 for the entire stay)
  • food ( the price varies depending on eating habits of the student. Self-cooked meals in the dorm will cost approximately $ 80.00 a week or less, restaurant prices are the same as in the US).
  • entertainment of choice, souvenirs, non-mandatory excursions ( price varies depending on student choices)

Please, note that the lodging during long-distance excursions is paid by the university, but students are still responsible for their food expenses.

Students’ visas and registration fees in Russia are paid by the university.

ATM cards are the best way to handle the money in Russia. ATM machines are easily available in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. The best bank to open the account for the summer trip is with CITIBANK as this bank has its ATM machines in Russia and will not charge the overseas transaction fees. Travelers’ checks are very difficult to cash in Russia and are not recommended. Checks are not accepted (cash only). Visa and master card are accepted in more expensive restaurants and shops, but need to be used very cautiously fraud is not rare. It is better not to bring AMEX it is accepted very rarely.


Alcohol and drug policy in the program is the USC campus policy of zero tolerance  (please, check the USC policy): a student using drugs and/or alcohol or being under the influence on premises can be expelled from the program and sent back to US in 24 hours.

The same applies for breaking Russian laws. Please, note that using or selling/buying drugs (and alcohol for people under 18) is illegal in Russia and can lead to arrest.


The USC summer program in Russia is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about a unique, stunning culture of a rapidly developing, changing and unpredictable country of immense riches. We are very excited to be able to provide it to your children in the time of political and economical changes, to let them learn about the country that was a frightening mystery for so many years. We hope that it will become an eye-opening, in a way - a life-changing experience for them as it has been for many students before them and we are very grateful to you, the parents, who make it possible.

What's New

Alumnus Mikhail Gronas (Ph.D. 2002) has been promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure at Dartmouth College.


  • Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • University of Southern California
  • College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Taper Hall 255
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-4353