VOLUNTEER IN RUSSIA

Explore palaces filled with lavish banquet halls, then spend an afternoon at royal gardens. See where Tzars spent their summers. Wander down any street and spot towering onion-domed spires which top intricate cathedrals. Spending a semester here means living and breathing an expansive history, one that very few travelers ever get to experience.

This country gives you the best of the best — get to travel all over Europe when you’re not teaching, but all semester, call the alluring, historic, and captivating country of Mother Russia your home.

THE EXPERIENCE

Come see a part of the world not many people get to see, and plan on falling in love with Russia while you’re at it. Turn down any street and see golden, onion-domed churches ringing and stand in front of the most lavish palaces in Europe. This country is classic, this country is iconic, and this country is all yours to discover. While you’ll have vacation time to explore the rest of Europe, a typical day looks a little like this …

Glimpse a day in Russia

Peer outside of your window, down eight stories to see the commuters rushing to catch the bus. You also see a couple of babushkas bundled up to feed the pigeons. You could watch this little scene forever, but your host mom lets you know that breakfast is ready — today you have a bowl of warm porridge swirled with jam and toast, along with lots and lots of tea. A semester with ILP is all about the local experience and the food is a big part of your semester! Especially since you’re living with a host family, you’ll get lots of homemade Russian meals. You’ll also get lots of local food for lunch at the schools you teach at. Yum. Not entirely sure what Russian food is all about? Eastern European meals are really hearty. Plan on lots of soups, bread, porridge, meat, stews, dumplings, and other dishes topped with dill, and sour cream. You’ll have your fair share of potatoes cooked a dozen different ways. Russia isn’t Russia with lots and lots of potatoes. 

Groups in Russia are typically 8-13 people, so plenty of adventure buddies for you to travel with. Everyone in your group will be living with their very own host family, which makes everyone’s experience really unique and fun. Even though you started out as strangers, you quickly call them your Russian family now. Peer over your host mom’s shoulder as she shows you how to make borsch, take weekend trips to their countryside cabin, and cheer for your new favorite Russian soccer team. Apartments in Eastern Europe are small, you’ll be sharing space with a host sibling (Gotta love those “brush your teeth” parties at night in the shared bathroom!) For volunteers looking for a dive-into-the-culture experience, Russia is absolutely your best bet.

You may teach in the morning or the afternoon, but either way you have quite a bit of free time. It may be more than you anticipated. That leaves time for you to jump on the group text you have going with your ILP group and plan a spot to meet up in the city. It’s easy to just stay home at watch Netflix when you aren’t teaching (especially when it’s cold out), but you can see so much of your city if you go out and explore! It’s only cold for part of the year, so take advantage. Snowy days are perfect for cross country skiing in a local park. And on sunny afternoons, find flea markets right across from a cluster of cathedrals. There’s a lot to see (and do) in this country, that’s for sure. 

Most host families don’t live close to the schools you are teaching at, so you get to master the public transportation in your city. In no time, you’re hopping on and off on all the right buses and the unbelievably beautiful metro stops, even if you don’t speak a word of Russian! Your commute to and between schools is long, giving you time to finish that podcast series on the way there. On the way home, you do some lesson planning and read a few chapters of your book. Come home just in time to find dinner out on the table along with a game of chess. Your host brother is sneakily good at convincing you to play “just one more game” before bed (little knucklehead). Welcome to a semester in Russia!

HELP CHILDREN IN EUROPE LEARN ENGLISH

In this Exchange Program, you’ll be making a difference by helping children learn English, up to 20 hours per week. No experience is needed, we provide training on our teaching method! Volunteers in Russia are teaching a huge range of ages: little kids who are just learning to speak English, all the way up to teenagers who are practicing their language skills for college exams. Depending on which Russian city you’re living in, you may be teaching at one school with your ILP group, or you may be spread out between a couple of schools. You’ll get the chance to work with different students and school staff which makes for a very busy, but fun schedule. 

Volunteering and Costs

$2,520 — Includes your roundtrip airfare to Russia, visa, housing, meals, language and cultural experiences as well as training and support throughout the entire experience

Volunteers can also earn discount for referring a friend to come to Russia with them!

Russia is one of our Exchange Programs which is the most budget friendly option while still giving you all the perks of a classic ILP experience. We’re able to keep your costs so low because your student’s family helps subsidize the program for you by paying a fee to have their child attend ILP classes.

WHERE
Volunteers live in both Moscow and Voronezh, towards the western side of Russia

WHEN
—Spring: Depart late January/early February – return end of May to early June
—Summer: currently no summer program offered in Russia
—Fall: Depart end of August – return middle of December, just in time for Christmas

WHO
—8-13 volunteers in a group
—Single males/females and married couples
—18-about 25ish years old
—Volunteers from the U.S.
—No experience needed!

EXPLORING EUROPE

Not only do you get to travel to our favorite destinations within Russia (seeing sites that most tourists never get to) but you can also travel throughout the European Union and Ukraine. See how many countries you can knock off your bucket list this semester. Russia volunteers love exploring up through the Baltic stopping by Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia before taking a ferry over to Finland, Sweden and Norway, or you could jump on a flight and head west!

Here’s just a few of our favorite European spots to go exploring …

Russia — Take a train ride out to towns full of intricately designed cathedrals and don’t miss out on one of our favorite vacation spots: the oh so famous St Petersburg!

Czech Republic — Arrive early (before other tourists) to walk along the famous Charles Bridge. Then stroll up the hill to Prague castle before trying all of Prague’s tasty treats.

Hungary — Spend the weekend in Budapest! It’s all about relaxing in famous thermal spas then walking around castle hill. Before your trip ends, meander through the gray walls of the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Austria — Visit museums and photograph detailed architecture in tranquil Vienna. Try local cuisine like wiener schnitzel and warm apple strudel.

Slovakia — Trek up to castle ruins, have lunch on the streets of Old Town Bratislava, and fall in love with country most tourists miss.

Norway — Island-hop around scenic archipelagos. Or, take a hike to one of the world’s most scenic hanging cliffs. Norway’s all about the outdoors.

Sweden — Tour through winding alleyways of the capital’s Old Town. On your trip, enjoy live music in downtown Stockholm, and try famous Swedish meatballs.

Poland — Head south for hikes through the mountains to swimmable lakes. Stroll through a lively Old Town full of drool-worthy treats. Step back in time at numerous world famous WWII history sites. Poland is a volunteer favorite.

Germany — Explore fairytale castles, take a train through the scenic Black Forest, and check out the artsy side of Berlin. We’re also big fans of Munich!

Slovenia — Boat across the lake to the medieval Bled castle? Take the train through the underground network of caves? Hike through ravines and canyons? Slovenia has all of that and more.

Switzerland — Hike or take in views of the Swiss Alps by train. Or paddle board on Lake Geneva. But before leaving, get your fill of chocolate.

Croatia — Ancient coastal towns like Dubrovnik, Roman amphitheaters, and some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe.

Estonia — Jump into medieval times in Tallinn. Ride your bike along the Baltic Sea, and kayak around Saaremaa Island.

Latvia — Get a glimpse of Riga’s skyline from St. Peter’s church tower. After, admire the picturesque Old Town then test out night kayaking.

France — Fulfill your childhood dreams by having a picnic in front of the Eiffel tower. Go spend an afternoon in the Louvre, or soak up the sun on the coast.

...I’m glad those little memories are the ones that have stuck with me

“I knew I would love Russia for all the big things — seeing the twirling onion domes of St. Basil’s cathedral in person is pretty hard to beat. But I didn’t know I would love the little things so much more. Seeing the same bundled-up babushka selling flowers on the corner (completely surrounded by pigeons, mind you). Those long metro rides past the prettiest stops. Or walking down the same streets every day and only realizing how much it feels like home until it’s the end of your semester, and now you really have to say goodbye.

Russia was grand, and gorgeous, and historical and all of those things, but I’m glad those little memories are the ones that have stuck with me, because I have a million of those to hold onto.”

— Emily @mleruth