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Colby Programs
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St. Petersburg
Colby Approved Programs
Colby Approved Programs

Colby in St. Petersburg

Program Information

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The Colby in St. Petersburg semester program was established in 1992 to enable a small group of intermediate or upper-intermediate Russian language students to study in a small group or individual tutorial setting in Russia. In 1999 JanPlan options were added to the Colby in St. Petersburg program, whereby students with no exposure to the Russian language may enroll in one of four month-long courses for the month of January: Russian Art and Literature; Russia's Transition Economy; Russian Ethnography; or elementary Russian language. The JanPlan program is open to all students from Colby (and other institutions). Students are encouraged to speak to the faculty in the Russian program at Colby about JanPlan options, which are not described here in full.

The semester program is available in both the fall and spring terms. The program is housed at the St. Petersburg Classical Gymnazium, two metro stops from the center of St. Petersburg, where Russian program directors oversee the university-level instructors who conduct courses in Russian language, literature, and history. There are no Colby faculty members in residence for this program. Students live with Russian families and participate in a full cultural program led by Russian specialists


Academic Program

Program dates vary from semester to semester, and the Off-Campus Study Office will inform participants about dates well in advance of the semester. The fall semester program typically begins in early September and concludes in the third week of December. The spring semester program begins in early February and concludes in the third week in May. It may be possible for some students, after consultation with the Colby Russian staff, to add a JanPlan in St. Petersburg to the spring semester program.

The program has a fixed academic curriculum of three courses: Russian language classes, (10 hours per week); Russian literature class (3 hours per week); and Russian history (3 hours per week). Successful completion of the program earns 16 Colby credits, distributed as follows: Russian language, 3 credits; Russian Conversation and Composition, 3 credits; Russian phonetics, 2 credits; Russian literature, 4 credits; and Russian history, 4 credits. All classes meet at the St. Petersburg Classical Gimnazium, the students' host institution in St. Petersburg, and are conducted by instructors from St. Petersburg University.

The academic program is unique in that the class size is very small (maximum of five students), ensuring maximum, daily participation from each student. It goes without saying that students' work is very intensive and progresses quickly because of so much individual attention. In addition to the group classes, each student will have individual classes with instructors of phonetics and composition throughout the semester. Attendance at every class is essential.

Students on this program must be ready to participate actively in the classroom and must be able to take initiative with requests and suggestions for the instructors. The advantages of personalized instruction are many, but the small class size works well only when students are well-prepared for each class, active in each class meeting, and willing to ask instructors for more or less difficult work. Students will receive a syllabus for each course at the beginning of the semester and should read the syllabus carefully and discuss it with each instructor. Students must view these classes as independent study opportunities and must take an active part in the selection of materials and the pace of the classes.

In Russian universities, an oral final examination is the sole evaluation of each course. Because this academic program is tailored specifically for Colby, students have papers and written tests throughout the semester, in addition to the oral final examinations. During the semester, there is less written work than in an American college setting. More time is spent in class, but less time on homework assignments, than is the case in regular college courses. This difference in study time is deliberate in order to have more time to investigate the wealth of historical and cultural resources that the city of St. Petersburg has to offer.

At the conclusion of the semester, each student receives a grade and a written evaluation from each instructor. Students are graded by each instructor according to the Russian five-point scale. These grades and evaluations are reviewed by the Academic Coordinator in St. Petersburg and by the Colby Russian faculty before Colby grades and credits are recorded. Grades from the St. Petersburg program count in the Colby GPA.


Teaching English

Some participants in the Colby in St. Petersburg Program decide to teach English at the St. Petersburg Classical Gimnazium a few hours per week. If students are interested in seeing a middle school on the inside, trying their hand at teaching, and meeting Russian children, this is an interesting and challenging part of the program. In consultation with the English language instructors at the Gimnazium, Colby students select the grade level at which they want to work and corresponding materials. The Gimnazium also welcomes students' ideas for after-school programs; Colby students have coached basketball teams and have run a photography club.

Housing and Meals

A special feature of Colby in St. Petersburg is the opportunity to live with Russian host families, carefully selected by the Gimnazium staff. Host families take very seriously their responsibilities for the well-being and security of their guests. Students will take their meals with their families and are encouraged to enter into the life of their families totally and actively. Family residence is the single best way to get beneath the surface of Russian life, to be a resident of the city and not merely a tourist or visiting student. The sizes and ages of the families differ widely, so students must be prepared to fit in to a family with young children or a family whose children are already grown and away from home.

Although all the families are well-off by Russian standards, Americans must be flexible and prepared to adjust to a new culture and a new and struggling economy. Students must be ready for the hardships and the adventures of a different economic life, the unavailability of conveniences which they take for granted at home, and the lack of consumer goods to which they have become accustomed. It is often inconvenient and sometimes aggravating, but it is an essential part of learning about life in Russia.


Social Life and Extra-Curricular Activities

Cultural Events: Theater and concert tickets are purchased for the students throughout the semester. Students should make specific requests to the coordinator of the cultural program if there are certain tickets they would like to have. Colby recommends that each student see an opera, a ballet, orchestra, popular movie, folk music/dance performance, drama and comedy theater, puppet theater, and circus in order to get acquainted with the cultural riches of Russia.

Excursions: During the first month of the semester students have guided excursions to museums and historical landmarks in St. Petersburg including: the Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress, Ethnographic Museum, St. Isaac's Cathedral, several memorials to the victims of the German blockade of Leningrad during World War II, and the summer residences of the tsars. In addition literary tours to the apartment-museums of Pushkin or Dostoevsky will complement readings in the literature course.

Also during the first month students will have a 3-day weekend train trip to Moscow. During the second month of the semester, students will have a 3-day weekend trip to the ancient city of Novgorod, a treasure house of old Russian architecture. During the third month of the semester, students will have a week-long independent trip to a destination which they will choose in advance from among a list of possible trips prepared by Colby and the Gimnazium.

Program Fees

The fees for Colby programs abroad are equivalent to the comprehensive fees for Colby College: $20,885 per semester in 2005-2006. (Please note that program fees are also subject to any annual comprehensive fee increases.) Students are billed by Colby, and are exempt from the $1000 study abroad fee. The fee covers: tuition, room, board or a board allowance, excursions, and roundtrip airfare and, in some cases, transfers to program sites. Books, meals during vacation periods, laundry expenses, and personal travel are not included. A forfeitable deposit of $500 is due at the time of acceptance.

For Colby in St. Petersburg, the fee includes a transportation pass, limited Internet access, and travel expenses for two trips to other Russian cities.


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