Visiting North American students take between 14 and 17 credits per semester at Smolny, 11 of which are completed in the Russian as a Second Language (RSL) program. Heritage and other high-proficiency speakers may have the RSL requirement reduced or waived, and can replace these credits with academic courses. Smolny has 12 main areas of study and there are over 130 courses offered each semester. Course lists for upcoming semesters are usually posted by Smolny near the end of the preceding semester. Courses are offered in the following subject areas: Art History; Cognitive Studies; Complex Systems; Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence; Economics; Film and Video; History of Civilizations; International Relations, Political Science, and Human Rights; Literature; Music and Theater; Philosophy; and Sociology and Anthropology. Courses related to American Studies, French Studies, Gender Studies, Life Sciences, Religion Studies, and Russian, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Studies are also offered.
The Russian as a Second Language (RSL) program boosts the development of students’ speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills. The program aims to facilitate students' adjustment to everyday life in Russia, and to the Smolny academic environment. Students who are attending Smolny for the fall semester are encouraged to enroll in our Summer Language Intensive (SLI). The SLI program is designed to provide the equivalent of one year of Russian language study, and it offers a comprehensive introduction to Smolny as an academic institution.
The program begins during orientation with an introduction to the city. Excursions typically include walking tours, visits to museums, and a welcome dinner with Smolny classmates. The cultural program continues throughout the semester, with an average of one excursion every two weeks to a museum, opera, ballet, theater, or palace; social activities, including bowling and dinners; and several weekend excursions outside of St. Petersburg. All events are conducted in Russian, and Smolny classmates are invited along on excursions. In the past, students have visited the Hermitage, Russian State Museum, and Tsarskoye Selo, to name just a few.
The Bard-Smolny program encourages interested students to pursue volunteer service and/or internships during their time in St. Petersburg. Internships are available at various businesses, organizations, and cultural institutions throughout the city. Faculty and staff at Smolny have a wealth of contacts in the NGO, artistic, and media fields and can help organize these opportunities. North American students in the Bard-Smolny Program have found internships at the State Hermitage Museum, State Museum of Russian Political History,and Big Choral Synagogue, as well as other civil society and human rights organizations. Placement is determined by the student’s Russian language skills.
The Bard-Smolny study abroad program begins with a comprehensive online predeparture training. Students fly as a group to St. Petersburg, where they undertake a two-day orientation that focuses on program expectations (academic and behavioral), health and safety information, cultural adjustment strategies, and an introduction to life in St. Petersburg. On the final day of orientation, students move into their semester housing.
Host family: Homestays foster language acquisition and provide a support network outside of Smolny. Most families hosting Smolny students have hosted international students before, and each semester potential host families are reinterviewed by members of Smolny staff in their homes. Our host families know that language acquisition is important to students and are often ready to spend time talking with them, answering their questions, and sometimes even helping with homework. Students have a private room, with access to a washing machine, and are provided two meals a day on weekdays and full board on weekends. The host family also provides clean linens.
Local hostel: Students may instead opt to live in a dorm-style apartment in local hostel near Smolny’s main academic building. Students will have access to a kitchen area where they can prepare their own meals. The hostel does not have planned activities for residents or have many opportunities for cultural interaction. Students have a private room and are supplied with towels and bed linens. The local hostel also comes equipped with WiFi.
Smolny has a student-run Social Committee, which organizes student get-togethers and parties throughout the semester. Past events have included a fall party, a New Year’s Eve party, Cosmonaut Day, and end-of-semester events. Students are also invited to participate in the numerous lectures, seminars, and conferences that take place at Smolny College. Visiting students can also start new clubs and organizations. In the past, students have created a collaborative journal, a student newspaper, and various sports clubs. In recent years, Smolny has seen clubs centered around intramural soccer; KVN, a sketch-comedy team that represents Smolny in competitions against other institutions; a discussion group on globalization; a human rights–awareness group; a film club; and SmArt, a student art and literary journal founded by Russian and American students.
Health Insurance is included in the program cost. All students participating in the Bard-Smolny Program are enrolled in the travel health insurance plan written for Bard College for use on study abroad programs (GeoBlue).
Most health care providers abroad do not have direct billing relationships with U.S. insurance companies and require payment at the time of service. Therefore, students may be expected to pay for treatment and submit receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement.
RUSSIAN SUMMER LANGUAGE INTENSIVE
Live, breathe, eat, and sleep Russian language and culture by immersing yourself in this intensive study abroad experience. Live with a host family, explore St. Petersburg, and improve your language skills. Students who attend the 8-week language intensive and the fall term immediately following are eligible to apply for a $10,000 scholarship toward the cost of the summer program thanks to generous support from the US Russia Foundation and the Institute for International Liberal Education at Bard.
The Bard-Smolny Summer Language Intensive (SLI) strives to provide participants with a total immersion experience:
- A Russian-only policy at Smolny and during cultural excursions
- Interaction with Russian students working as peer tutors
- “Russian Table” lunch with instructors, classmates, and peer tutors
- Homework sessions with faculty and tutors for extra help or conversation practice
- Excursions to St. Petersburg’s world-renowned cultural sites such as the Hermitage and the Mariinsky Theater
- Practice and perform in our Russian choir or theater program
- Homestays with Russian families
The Bard-Smolny Summer Language Intensive provides challenging courses for students who have completed between two and six semesters of college-level Russian or its equivalent. Students can choose to enroll for four or eight weeks; the four-week program focuses on solidifying language concepts already covered while improving language skills, and the eight-week program is the equivalent of one year of Russian at a North American institution and covers text such as V Puti: Russian Grammar in Context and materials developed by Russian as a Second Language faculty. Students' Russian skill level will be measured with a short assessment administered at the time of application.
SLI is an immersive program, with 22 hours of classes per week, daily quizzes and written assignments, and weekly tests. Class sizes are small (typically 8 to 10 students), with coursework that emphasizes vocabulary acquisition, grammar comprehension, reading improvement, and writing achievement as well as verbal and aural precision. Language is taught in conjunction with our cultural program, which integrates academic experience with a feel for the city of St. Petersburg. Coursework for upper-level students includes a thematic workshop that focuses on language learning through content-specific instruction, such as Russian history and literature. Past workshops have included Russian politics, literature, and art history.
SLI students are provided a rich cultural program, including biweekly excursions and events. Excursion sites have included:
- St. Issac’s Cathedral
- Petter and Paul’s Fortress
- Velikiy Novgorod (overnight trip)
- Dostoevsky Museum
- Ballet and opera at either the Mikhailovsky or Mariinsky Theater
- Blockade Museum
- Political Hitsory Museum
- Elagin Island (ballroom dancing)
- Russian Museum
- Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo)
- Museum of Modern Art “Erarta”
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If you are looking for a challenging environment in which to pursue your academic studies while advancing your Russian language skills, we invite you to consider studying at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University (Smolny)—Russia’s first liberal arts college.
By choosing the Bard-Smolny study abroad program you will become part of a dynamic, innovative, and ambitious undertaking in international liberal education. Designed for students who have completed two years or more of college-level Russian (including heritage speakers), the Bard-Smolny program in St. Petersburg offers a rich academic environment for students from North American colleges and universities who wish to study in Russia for a semester, summer, or full academic year.
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