To be honest, when I first came to Yaroslavl, I was really scared. I didnt know anything about the city or my studies in the university. I was totally alone and I didnt understand the language very well... But things changed quite fast.
In the university, the people in the International Office, took care of me right away. They organized everything and sent me to the right classes. If I ever had any problems, there was always somebody to help me.
Yaroslavl turned out to be an extremely beautiful and charming city. Yaroslavl has the friendly feeling of a small town. It was really easy to meet people and became friends with them.
I lived with an elderly Russian woman, and it gave me a good idea of an ordinary Russian life and made my ”Russian” experience deeper.
I am really happy that I had courage to come here to ”real” Russia. This spring has been very important for me.
I came to Yaroslavl not knowing anybody, and was pleasantly surprised at the warm welcome I received. I had enrolled individually, and thus was free to choose which courses I would attend, according to the requirements for graduation from my own university, and to personal interests. Gradually I realized which group of students best fit my level of training in physics. I started going to essentially all of their classes with them during my second semester.
The Physics Department at YarSU has been helpful and accomodating. The professors are extremely knowledgeable and the students are very friendly and curious. I am overall impressed with the quality of education here, the family-like environment of the university, and in general with Yaroslavl itself!
I first arrived in Yaroslavl in the fall of 1999 on the Middlebury School Year Abroad program. I fell in love with the city right away. Since it was late summer/early fall, everything was beautiful. Winter wasn’t so bad either. Our first full day here we had an excursion around the city and I knew that I would be very happy here. I lived with a wonderful host family, whom I still see regularly.
I’m in Yaroslavl now (June 2003) as a Fulbright Fellow. I am conducting intereviews with and photographing Russian babushki. I decided to base my research here because, having lived in a capital city the year before (Washington DC), I wanted a change of pace.
Also, I knew that I would be comfortable at Yaroslavl State University. The people in the International Offce are all extremely helpful and found my apartment for me. The University supported my visa and when I had problems (around the time a bunch of new laws were passed), they sorted everything out for me. Although there are not a lot of international students here, the office is experienced and well equipped to deal with us.
My one on one Russian language instruction was extremely beneficial and the teachers, drawn not only from YarGU, are excellent. Yaroslavl is a great city to live in. Not only does it have many historical and architectural points of interest, it has the kinds of things that were unavailable even 3 years ago, and most certainly during Soviet times - sports centers, aerobics classes (I’m a fan of water aerobics), westernized supermarkets, stylish clothing stores, browsable bookstores, and a smattering of pizza places. I know that I’ll be back in Yaroslavl to visit in the future.
Yaroslavl is a beautiful city full of many great people. At first, I was nervous about coming here because I thought that Yaroslavl would be a really small - and therefore, really boring - town. Now less than a week before I fly home, I don’t want to leave. There’s always somewhere to explore and people to hang out with. Also, Yaroslavl is close to a bunch of really interesting old towns known as ”The Golden Ring”, and is a train ride away from Moscow and Petersburg. You can also get direct trains to Siberian cities from Yaroslavl, if you’re anxious to take a Trans-Siberian trip. I’ve had the opportunity to travel around Russia - from Sochi to Archangelsk to Ulan-Ude - and it was always pleasant to come home to Yaroslavl. I’ve made many memories and many friends that I’ll never forget.
In September 1994, I arrived at the Yaroslavl train station with 4 boxes of books and 4 large and 2 small suitcases, ready to start a five month personal and teaching adventure. Two previous visits to Moscow and St. Petersburg; advice from two friends, Blair Ruble and George Gallant, who had taught at the university; a brief visit with Professor Igor Kiselev, while he was visiting in the states; and minimal language skills were all the personal preparation I had for this journey. Upon my arrival, as I remember, Mama Sasha (She will always be Mama Sasha to me.) greeted me with Olga, Natasha, and Zoya, who worked in the offce, and directed the unloading of my belongings. She had arranged for me to stay in an apartment, which was similar in size and accommodation to my apartment in Washington, D.C. On my second day, Professor Kiselev took me on a tour of the old city and showed me how to shop.
As I look back on the experience and think of what was most challenging adjustment, it was the simple every day life activities. I had to learn to plan tasks like shopping and laundry. How, where, and when to shop were more complex than running into my Washington D.C. supermarket and picking up a few items on the way home from work. I thought a map of Yaroslavl stores indicating which one sold what would be helpful. After a few weeks, most of exchange students and faculty shopped in the ”shop in the park”; as well as the local markets. We also bought bread from the hole in the wall; I still remember the grey bread. I came to enjoy shopping as a social experience, not just a task.
My university experience reflected the best of what I have experienced in university teaching. My students were wonderful-bright, interested, enthusiastic, and willing to experiment with the American professor. Lilia Karnizova and Alex Sitnikov interpreted, as my Russian skills were minimal. (I have continued language studies, but am a poor student.) I keep the two waxed pigs, which my students gave to me at a 1995 New Year’s party, where I can see them and remember the good times. My students taught me much - to be flexible, willing to experiment, and to appreciate differences in teaching styles.
I learned to appreciate group learning. I believe that my students became comfortable asking me questions, which, at times, led me to changing what and how I taught. Much to my amusement, when I think about the university administrative challenges I observed or confronted, I realize that these challenges are similar in all academic bureaucracies. At Yaroslavl, my particular challenge might have been finding a computer or Xerox machine, but a faculty member at any university usually has to negotiate for something. Also, faculties usually have divisions, differences of opinion regarding how things should be done. In Yaroslavl, I learned to look for the familiar in what seemed to be difference in order to be better able to handle the challenge.
My overwhelming Yaroslavl memory is the love of my students and friends. I have seen Alex and Lilia during the last year. I met Professor Mizulin in the U.S. and Moscow. The others are faces in my mind, in my heart. Whatever happens, whether or not have I have the opportunity to return to Yaroslavl, the memories and images will remain with me forever. Love to all at Yaroslavl State University.
For international calls on admission and other inquiries :
+7 (4852) 78-86-80
+7 (4852)79 77 46
9.30 - 17.00 Moscow time
Fax: +7 (4852) 78-86-82
Yaroslavl 150000, Russia