Moscow State University (MGU) is Russia's top ranked university. The massive Stalinist silhouette of its main building (the dorm) is beloved by Muscovites as a symbol of their city. Students from all over the world come here to study among the more than 30,000 Russian students who are also enrolled. This surrounds you with modern Russian youth while also allowing you to form support groups of people from English-speaking countries. MGU is for those who like to be in the center of action in a bustling metropolis and are willing to make the effort to seek out Russian friends for language practice and cultural immersion.
Location MGU is located in Moscow, Russia, at metro stop Университет (Universitet; University), about five miles southwest from the city center. The fastest way to get to the city center is on the underground metro. It takes about 10 minutes to reach the metro from the university by foot, and it's a 15-minute metro ride to the city center. The area around MGU is heavily forested and beautiful in the summer and fall. It's also revered as a residential area due to its trees, open spaces, excellent shopping, and good transport. It's a nice, quiet getaway from the pace and noise of central Moscow.
Campus/Student Life MGU is massive, meaning that you can feel a bit "lost in the shuffle" unless you make an effort meet people and get involved. Foreigners are often separated from Russians in the dorms, meaning that you may not have trouble finding a Russian-speaking foreigner, but if you're really looking to befriend Russians, you may want to look into joining clubs, finding and participating in campus events, introducing yourself to your tablemates at the crowded campus cafeterias, etc.
Dorm Details Although MGU has several dorms, mostly off-campus, SRAS students are housed on campus in the massive main building creatively known as "Главное здание" (Glavnoezdanie; Main Building). The rooms are designed such that you have your own room with a bed, desk, and wardrobe, while you share an entryway, toilet, and shower with one dorm-mate. Bed sheets, pillows, and towels are provided but we recommend bringing your own towel. Wired Internet is available as a paid service (though its not always reliable, see our guide for alternatives). Kitchens are shared with the floor and do not always have functional refrigerators. Guests have restricted hours and you must obtain a special pass for them, but the dorms do not have lockdown hours (curfews) like most Russian universities.
Home Stay For a more immersive experience, our more adventurous students often elect to stay in a Russian home. It's not for everyone, and is an additional cost, but it is a great experience! Limited availability.
SRAS Support at MGU Most of our Russia-based staff is located in Moscow, meaning that students in the capital are the best supported of all locations. Several excursions (free with most of our programs) are organized throughout the semester. Upon enroling with SRAS, students receive a detailed guide with specific information on where to find the facilities and food outlined below and much more. All arriving MGU students on SRAS programs are given a practical tour covering MGU, how to use Moscow's public transportation, and where to find the nearby mall. Our Moscow Coordinator is always available by cell phone (also free with most of our programs) to answer any questions, discuss any concerns, or help in the event of emergency.
University Facilities Laundry facilities are available on campus for a reasonable price. There is also a small gym but it is crowded and the equipment leaves much to be desired. There are several outdoor soccer fields, a baseball field, a track, some basketball hoops, and a place for volleyball. See our google map of the campus, turn to the satellite view and see most of this for yourself. In winter a makeshift ice rink is sometimes put up. MGU, like most Russian universities, does not allow all students into all facilities. While there is a library to study in, for example, you'll need to apply for and receive a special pass to access it. You will be issued passes to access your wing of the dorm and any buildings where your classes will be held. MGU has no public computer labs (bring your own laptop if you will want a computer).
Campus/Near-Campus Food The university has several cafeterias on campus, as well as kiosks, shops, and small cafes for quick bites. The food in the cafeterias in the main building is extremely inexpensive by Moscow standards, and the portions are large and generally tasty, though the menu never seems to change. There are several small grocery stores on campus, and a larger Wal-Mart-esque type store inside a shopping mall that is about a 15-minute walk from the dorms. The mall has a food court on the top floor - including McDonald's and some Russian fast-food joints (you can also get free WiFi here, though the connection is slow).
Nearby Attractions Within walking distance from the dorm are Sparrow Hills, which afford one of the best overlooks of Moscow available. They are also a great place to stroll, hike the nature trails, grab a snack and sit by Moskva River, or even catch a boat for a cruise of Russia's capital. Just across the street from the campus grounds, you'll find the Bolshoi Circus (a must-see in Russia!) and the Children's Musical Theatre in its distinctive music-box building. Just across the river (take the metro north one stop) are: Sportivnaya Stadium, where several annual festivals are held; Luzhniki Stadium, where some of the city's major concerts are held; and Novodevichi Convent, whose beautiful grounds and historic cemetery are part of the SRAS excursion package. The metro station itself is just a short walk away and can take you straight to the center and Red Square with only a fifteen minute ride.
Summary: Pros and Cons Pros: Dorms are on campus, within a five minute walk from your classes. Dorm rooms are single and Internet (pay service) is available. Facilities are extensive for a Russian university and it is the most famous university in Russia. Russians say "vau" when they hear you are studying there.
Cons: Quiet, public places to study are few. Fridges are not available in every room, though it is possible to rent them from the university if you get to the rental office before they are all sold out (it cannot be done in advance, or over the Internet). Due to the size of the university and the number of foreigners, it can be slightly more difficult to fully immerse in Russian and Russian culture.