International Programs

Smolny College 

Smolny College Operating through Bard College, this program allows students spend a semester or year taking courses at Smolny College (The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University), Russia's first liberal arts university. At Smolny, students my expect to find a small, intimate university with a student body of 450 and small class-sizes. Students can enroll directly in courses at Smolny, as well as working on their linguistic skills through the college's Russian as a Second Language (RSL) program. Students are allowed to live either in university dormitories or with Russian host families (the latter is recommended). Dormitories provide food services, and students are billed directly for their rooms. All other expenses must be taken care of outside of program guidance. Students staying in homestays will be provided two meals per weekday, and full board on weekends. Homestay expenses are billed directly to students. Orientation begins at Bard College before departure for Russia, and is supplemented by an on-site orientation upon arrival in St. Petersburg. Bard-Smolny offers a cultural immersion program that organizes group outings for its students to embrace cultural and social life in St. Petersburg, and to build community amongst students. This program also plays a part in the organization of student internships and volunteer work. Two years of college-level Russian or the equivalent, as well as a 3.0 GPA or higher are necessary in order to qualify for this program.

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Student Input:

Smolny is a wonderful program but in my opinion only for those who a) know what they want b) are ready to work hard c) have at least 2 years of russian and d) can stay the academic year. I stayed the year and saw what a (positive) difference the second semester made on those who stayed. really. academic work in Russian is really really hard and second semester makes up for a lot of the frustration experienced first semester. Even though I had 2 years of Reed Russian classes and took intensive classes over the summer, I had a very hard time keeping up with work at Smolny in the beginning. I don't think Bard makes it clear enough that this really is a difficult program, and that you NEED at least that much Russian to not lose your mind/become depressed/start hating everything. In principle, I think you cannot ever really be well-prepared for taking academic classes in Russian, if you are not a native speaker. So I think preparedness for this program really HAS to include your ability to deal with stressful situations, not understanding what is going on and a lot of frustration because of bureaucratic nonsense. If you just want to hang out in Russia, go to ACTR or Middlebury. If you want to hang out with Russians, go to Smolny. But not if you don't want to work. The russian language program for international students is ok but don't expect it to be intensive, for one, and a lot of us were very frustrated with the inescapable contrast between challenging, academic readings that boosted our vocabulary and knowledge of Russian, and the ordinary grammar-classes etc. Another problem I ran into is that Bard won't let you transfer more than 3 classes a semester back to your institution for credit - and your Russian instruction counts as the fourth. I don't want to make this sound awful, I had an amazing and wonderful time, my Russian is so much better, I made good Russian friends, had mostly wonderful, challenging classes that are not offered at Reed, and really liked St. Petersburg (despite it rotting and everything being dirty). I did have time to take advantage of the unbelievably dense cultural offerings - museums, music, theater, dance, etc. I just didn't really have "a year off" as you would on other programs. I really recommend the program for those who are willing to work.

-Anonymous '04