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Site Visit to New Location UNECON in St. Petersburg
Contact Renee, SRAS's Program Director, to find out how SRAS can better serve your students.
More about UNECON
Study Abroad at UNECON!
Renee Stillings, SRAS's Program Director, recently had the opportunity to visit the latest addition to the SRAS sites – St. Petersburg State University of Economics (UNECON). Here is what she reports about that location:
UNECON is led by a very dynamic, energetic and innovative international office. It has a steady flow of about 150 international students each semester, coming primarily from Europe, but in part from Asia, and now, with SRAS, a growing number of American students.
UNECON offers students a range of about 25 electives (and growing) in addition to Russian language study. These electives are primarily taught in English, with a few in German. They cover several aspects of business and finance as well as political science, international relations, and a growing number of humanities subjects. They are also very proactive about arranging internships for students.
What really struck me about UNECON is the international atmosphere and coherence of the international student body. Students on this program have a truly international experience in terms of course content and in the lifelong contacts they make there. The student support is excellent and overall infrastructure of the program is such that a student who does not speak Russian at all would still do well here. This opens up a unique experience to a much broader audience of American students who might not otherwise consider Russia as a study abroad destination.
The UNECON campus is in the very heart of St. Petersburg, immediately behind Kazan Cathedral along one of the main canals and five minutes’ walk from Nevsky Prospect, the main thoroughfare of the city. Numerous museums and historical sites are within a very easy walk. The dormitories at UNECON are right on campus – a few steps from classes. They are excellent dormitories, with one only having been completed very recently. I had a chance to tour it and was amazed at the conditions. It is no wonder that the majority of the international students just live on campus.
UNECON - Overcoming Location Disadvantages
Of course we are observing closely now that we have our first group of students at UNECON. We have gotten excellent feedback so far on the classes and the student support. One thing that we anticipated was challenges in mixing students with Russians because the international student body is so cohesive. To counteract this, Russian “buddies” are assigned to the students from arrival, and we are also working very closely with the UNECON staff to hold student mixers, roundtables, and other activities intended to prompt relationships with Russians from early on.
SRAS will also be working closely with UNECON to put more focus on language study and related courses. The current student body has been a bit more focused on the other subject matter courses and so there has not been a lot of focus on literature, art, and focused language courses such as language of the media. While we do still believe that students whose top priority is total immersion should go beyond St. Petersburg or Moscow, we are very excited about both the current programming and the range of possibilities yet to be developed in partnership with UNECON.