Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

Main | FALL 2014, ISSUE II »



47 years has passed since CIEE launched its first study center in Saint Petersburg. Time moves forward and we have all been excited to announce the groundbreaking news of the opening of CIEE’s second study center in Russia, right in the heart of Russia’s capital city, Moscow!


From left to right:Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ’15), Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ’16), Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15) and Trey Reilly (Colorado State University ‘15)in front of the Kremlin walls. 

 The first cohort of students came at the end of August, aiming to take advantage of the Business and International Relations Program. Without wasting any time, students began exploring as many gripping places in Russia’s capital as they could. Red Square, Cosmonauts Alley, Bolotnaya Square, the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, Arbat street, are just a few of the enormous list of historic places our students visited within the first couple weeks of the semester. 


Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15)and Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15) during a Moskva river boat trip. 


Where can you learn more about Russian foreign policy and politics if not at Russia’s most prestigious foreign affairs university? Studying in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations provides students with the incomparable opportunity of learning from Russian experts.

One of the anchor courses of the program is CIEE Core Course “Russia and the United States in Contemporary World Politics”. Led by the head of the Department of Applied Analysis of International Problems, Professor Shakleina, students learn what place Russia and the United States occupy in contemporary world politics, how they view each other, what their incentives for the future are, and what impact their relations and their policies will have for the world. Just glimpsing at the news today, it is very clear how important a course like this is. 

Trey Reilly (Colorado State University ‘15:

“In order to better understand the actions taken by sovereign nations — and most importantly the reasons behind these actions — scholars must gain a greater global perspective. Studying at Moscow State Institute of International Relations has given me the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge, from Russian professors, about the Russian perspective on world events, crises, and international security. The lectures and seminars taught by these experts have had a wide variety of topics, ranging from 8th century Russian history to international security in the 21st century, which I feel have all substantially promoted my intellectual growth.”

In addition to the mandatory World Politics course, students have a broad range of electives to choose from that are taught in English, ranging from Conflictology to Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Politics, and Business.

This semester, almost all our students are taking the course, “Political Process in Contemporary Russia.” Living in Russia, during times of change, students examine the main trends of Russia’s political process, its major actors as well as possible scenarios of its development, taking into account how it all is presented in latest Russian and foreign publication.

Ian Rohr (Tulane University of Louisiana ‘17) is one of the students in this course:

“Our Political Processes in Contemporary Russia class is very exciting. Yan Vaslavskiy, our professor, gives informative lectures and is very interested to listen to our opinions about our readings. Since our class is small, we are able to easily develop a rapport with Professor Vaslavskiy. During our seminars he gives us each individual feedback about our response papers in order for us to fully understand Russian politics.”

This semester, we are proud of one of our brave students who directly enrolled in a Russian course at MGIMO. Not only does it demand an advanced level of Russian, as you are studying alongside Russian students, but it also provides the additonal challenge of learning in a completely new system of education.  Needless to say, the rewards are immeasurable: studying directly in such a course strengthens your Russian language skills, and provides you the unique experience of truly experiencing Russian student life, and experiencing how the systems of education differ, as well as how professor-student relationships differ in these two countries.

Kenan Seyidov (University of Pennsylvania ’16) is the above mentioned brave student:

“Taking classes in Russian at MGIMO is a truly rewarding experience! I am grateful that CIEE provided me with this opportunity as it enabled me to familiarize myself with the Russian education system at an elite university, which is quite different to western methods of teaching. At first it is difficult to follow but soon it becomes obvious that the professors are very passionate about their subject; they convey their emotions through numerous anecdotes and by sharing their memories during lectures and seminars. I doubt that the same dynamic would persist if I wasn't taught about Russia in Russia.”

MGIMO gives students opportunity to learn not only in class but also during informative guest lectures. Generally, guests are famous and respected professors and professionals who like to share their experience with zealous. On the third week of September, students had a chance to listen to a series lectures conducted by University of Cambridge and University of California Santa Barbara professor and former head of Arctic Ocean Geopolitics Programme, Paul Arthur Berkman. During the lectures Professor Berkman covered the topic of modern conceptual interpretations of the status of political and legal regulation of international spaces: the Arctic, the Antarctic, the ocean.

Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15) attended the lectures:

A professor from my home university, UCSB, came to MGIMO to give a week long lecture series on the legal status of the Arctic. It was extremely informative, and his academic presence really spoke to the legitimacy and prestige of MGIMO.”


Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15)and Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ’15) with professor Paul Arthur Berkman


Moscow has had an incredibly interesting and colorful past which is reflected in its unique culture and architecture. CIEE students spent one of their first weekends in Moscow getting acquainted with the Kremlin Complex. Located in the center of Moscow, it includes the Armoury Chamber, a treasure-house hosting ancient Russian state regalia, ceremonial vestments, church utensils; Assumption Cathedral, the cathedral, where the inaugurations of Princes, Tsars, Emperors were held for centuries; Archangel's Cathedral, the dynastic necropolis of Moscow Great Princes and Tsars; Annunciation Cathedral, the church intended for royal ceremonies and keeping the royal treasury. The Kremlin’s importance is just as significant as it has been in the past. Today, it plays a significant role in the political life of Russia. Both the president and presidential administration are functioning in the administrative part of the complex.

Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ‘15) shares his insights on the experience:

“The Kremlin is absolutely beautiful, but my favorite part is the Armory museum because they have the entire history of Russia on display in one place”


Trey Reilly (Colorado State University ‘15) next to one of the guardians of Kremlin


BIR students and Student Services Coordinator, Pasha Sergeev, next to the Tsar Bell (weight of the bell is 445,166 lb)


A true admirer of Russian art cannot skip a visit to Tretyakov gallery, the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world. CIEE students sensed the unique ambiance of the place as its collection includes masterpieces, which span a period of almost a thousand years. Hall by hall students observed a whole history of Russian fine arts, including ancient icons of Rublev, portraits of Kiprenskiy, creations of rebellious Peredvizhniki (The Wanderers), symbolistic paintings by Vrubel, and works of famous social realists.

Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15):

“Of the many excursions I went on with CIEE, the Tretiakov Gallery is among my favorites. Our tour guide was excellent and effectively conveyed the historical context in which each painting was created, allowing us to fully understand the gravity each piece of art held.”


Rich history of Russia attracts attention of many young explorers. The more our students discover about Russian history, the more they are gaining a deeper understanding of how the historic experience shaped modern Russia. The State Museum of Contemporary History of Russia offered CIEE students an opportunity to comprehend the present Russia by examining various historical sources and documentary records. Students tracked how these pieces reflect social, political and economic history of our country and followed the intellectual development of the society for the whole 150 years' period of its progress.


On the second weekend of the semester, Saint Petersburg hosted the CIEE Muscovites and opened its breathtaking views, presenting a slightly more relaxed and smooth rhythm of life compared to the hustle and bustle of Moscow. To reach the “cultural capital of Russia” students boarded an overnight train, a true Russian experience. During the students’ three days in the Northern Capital, students endeavored to take in as many sights as possible; visiting The State Hermitage Museum, which garners more than 3 million works of art, spanning countless epochs and periods; meandering among the richly decorated fountains of Peterhof; and watching the drawbridges of Petersburg, decorating the Neva, rise at night. 

Ian Rohr (Tulane University of Louisiana ‘17):

“St. Petersburg is both beautiful and well-cultured. You can find shops and restuarants of all kinds along the Nevksy Prospekt. What I enjoyed most about my trip to St. Petersburg was touring the Hermitage Museum. I saw a massive collection of art from around the world from renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh. I would definitely recommend to anyone visiting Russia—student or tourist—to see St. Petersburg at least once.”


 CIEE students exploring the famous sights of Petersburg


However strong the academic program is, simply learning in class would not suffice for a future international business executive. The majority of CIEE students also decided to use an opportunity of participating in CIEE internship program that boosts their business and leadership skills, helps students gain project management experience and deeper understanding of intercultural business relations. Companies providing internships are well-known leaders in their professional spheres.

Some of the companies that welcome our CIEE students this semester include Kommersant (national daily business newspaper), Agency of Strategic Initiatives, World Trade Center and Russian Council for

International Affairs. Students’ tasks vary from monitoring world press on specific topics to analyzing competitive market of a particular country.

Kevin Dibb (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15) is one of the students who chose internship option:

“Working at Kommersant, one of Russia's largest newspapers, has been a wonderful experience that had provided me with keen insight into Russian journalism and workplace culture, as well as providing me with the opportunity to develop my professional skills and practice Russian language.”


Even those who are not well acquainted with the ballet world recognize the name of one of the most renowned works of Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake. Students attended this very ballet at the State Kremlin Palace, one of the main stages of Russia. The Kremlin Palace is in the heart of Russia, within the territory of a medieval fortress, and the residence of the head of the state. Students were captivated by the talented ballet dancers, who successfully expressed the tragedy of Princess Odette, the princess that was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. This deeply emotional and well known story, resonated with the audience and CIEE students.

Emily Bond (University of California, Santa Barbara ‘15)  shares her feelings about the ballet experience:

“Having done ballet my whole life, it was a dream of mine to see an authentic Russian ballet performance. I had the wonderful opportunity to see "Лебединое Озеро" and it was truly a magical evening.”

Photo 5
CIEE students in the hall of The State Kremlin Palace


This semester, two of our musically inclined CIEE students took advantage of the local student community by joining the academic choir of Moscow State Institute of International Relations. At the moment, students are rehearsing with the choir of the Russian State Humanitarian University, accompanied by a symphony orchestra to prepare for a big show where all students will perform cantata “Alexander Nevsky.” Not too shabby at all. We’re all looking forward to watching their performance.

Thomas Cullen (Seton Hall University ‘16)  is one of the participants of MGIMO Choir:

“Choir is a great opportunity to interact with "right-brained" Russians, I am not very good at Russian but I realized that I am picking up a lot of the language just by participating in an activity I am familiar with.”


Cup of tea, cookies, talks with new friends and some board games – what can be better at the end of the day? CIEE students and their Russian friends had a nice time playing UNO and Mafia, among other games at TimeTerria, an anticafe in the center of the city. Students found that night great for making new friends and practicing Russian.

Trey Reilly (Colorado State University ‘15):

“Learning how to play Mafia — with Russian students from MGIMO — was a unique experience that immersed me deeper into the Russian culture and provided an opportunity to build friendship. It was a night full of laughter that I will not forget.”


CIEE students and their Russian peers at the CIEE Board Game Night


S Nauluchshimi pozhelaniyami (Best wishes),


Pasha Sergeev, Student Services Coordinator

Irina Makoveeva, Center Director



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment