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Princeton in St. Petersburg
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Summer
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This program is currently not accepting applications.
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Dept Offering Program: Slavic Languages and Literatures Program Type: Study Abroad (summer)
Language of Instruction: Russian Time Away: Summer
Program Description:
Program Description:

The Princeton in St. Petersburg Program (P-i-P) gives Princeton undergraduates the opportunity to take Princeton’s complete second-year Russian course (Intermediate Russian) in eight weeks over the summer. Typically, students are in class from 9:10 AM to 11:00 AM and 11:30 PM to 1:20PM Monday through Friday, with a coffee break in between. In keeping with the intensive nature of the program, the classes are supplemented by homework. However, the workload is not all-consuming; students still find time to take advantage of St. Petersburg’s rich cultural life.  

The Program has had unmatched success in preparing students for advanced work in Russian. In addition, the city has led many P-i-P students to return in subsequent summers for further study. In the summer of 2015 the program will run from June 1st to July 24th. (the students are expected to arrive on May 30th and depart on July 25th). For additional information contact the program director Ksana Blank (link sends e-mail).

Admission to the program
In order to be eligible for the program, students must take the entire sequence of RUS 101-102 and have a B+ grade or higher in RUS 101. In addition, they should have demonstrated seriousness of purpose through excellent class participation and attendance.

Information from other offices at Princeton, e.g. residential colleges, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, University Health Services (with student’s consent) or others, may be requested as part of the application review process to ensure that all students can have a safe and productive international experience. Decisions on individual applications are made on a case by case basis.

Students who accept a place on a program and then, before the program begins, withdraw or cannot participate because they are no longer enrolled at Princeton will lose the non-refundable deposit and any unrecoverable costs. There are no refunds after the start of the program.

Health care
The students should check if their medical insurance is valid overseas (those who are on the Princeton Health Plan are covered overseas in the summer). The P-i-P program provides an additional local insurance that covers all medical expenses related to accidents or illness.

Visas and passports
Visas to Russia will be obtained through the Slavic department. Passports must be valid for 6 months beyond the anticipated return date (i.e. until March 2016). The Russian visa stamp is the size of one passport page, please make sure you have a blank visa page in your passport. For information from U.S. Government agencies about political, cultural, and personal security issues relevant for travelers to Russia, see the consular information here (link is external).

The academic program consists of three parts:

RUS 105R (June). Grammar is taught jointly by Prof. Pettus and an instructor from the Derzhavin Institute. 8 hours per week. 

RUS 107R (July). Grammar is taught by Derzhavin instructors. 8 hours per week.

We learn second year Russian in an environment more conducive to language learning than Princeton. You never have to take a term of five classes, you finish your language requirement, and your Russian is advanced greatly. (P-i-P participant, 2006)


RUS 105R and 107R are taught by Derzhavin instructors. 8 hours per week.

It is the only way you will really learn the language well. You will get to hear native speakers all around you. If you are considering a Russian major you will get yourself a whole year ahead. (P-i-P participant, 2006)


RUS 105R (June). Reading and analysis of Russian short stories and poems. Taught by Derzhavin instructors. 4 hours per week. 

RUS 107R (July). Dostoevsky module taught by Prof. Blank. 4 hours per week.

There are some urban novels where the city itself becomes a major character—and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is one. By this point in the course, students read selections from Crime and Punishment in Russian (having already read the entire novel in English). They “make the acquaintance” of their hero through tours, buildings, streets and canals, many of which have not changed significantly since Dostoevsky’s time.

This was the best part of the program. The excitement that was generated by reading Dostoevsky in Russian reminded me of why I had begun to learn the language in the first place, namely, to read its literature untranslated. The work, along with so many others, obviously has such strong ties to the city of Petersburg. Walking around the city added a certain everyday, real-world weight to a work that was already so influential on me… I don't think that one has to be in St. Petersburg in order to see what is great about Dostoevsky, but the direct experience with his immediate surroundings gives you a rich source of images, scents, and general atmosphere which you can draw from in order to recreate the novel for yourself, as you read through it. (P-i-P participant, 2006)

Ksana Blank has a B.A. in French language and literature from St. Petersburg (Leningrad) State University and a Ph.D. in Russian literature from Columbia University. In 2000 she joined the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University, where she teaches upper-level language courses, Russian Stylistics, and other undergraduate and graduate courses. She has published a book on Dostoevsky and a number of articles on other Russian writers. Prior to joining Princeton University she taught courses in Russian language and literature at Columbia University, Middlebury College, and Hunter College. To learn more about Ksana Blank, please visit her Princeton University faculty profile.
 Mark Pettus has a B.A. in German and History from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University. Having spent approximately five years altogether studying and working in Russia, he returned to Princeton in 2011 as a Lecturer, and has taught language courses for Russian, Czech and Polish, Russian literature courses, and a course on Russian rock music. His research has focused on Dostoevsky, Gothic literature, and chronotope in the 19th-century European novel, but he remains broadly interested in Russian prose, poetry, and philosophy, and especially in sharing the riches of Slavic literature with students.

Our graduate student Alisa Ballard (link sends e-mail) will be on site in June-July, 2015 to help students with practical questions and to guide them through any difficulties they may encounter. Alisa's graduate student page.

Derzhavin Institute (link is external) The Derzhavin Institute is a non-governmental educational institution. It was founded in 2003 with the participation of the All-Russia Pushkin Museum, the largest literary museum in Russia. The Derzhavin Institute became a full-fledged academic institution because of its outstanding Russian language instruction. All Derzhavin instructors are experienced in teaching Russian to foreign students. 

Students in P-i-P are matched with a Russian peer. The purpose of the Peer Program is to give P-i-P students the opportunity to spend time out of class with a Russian speaker around their age. This brings our students the benefits both of speaking practice with a native speaker and access to someone who is informed about the culture of the country and city. A small amount of money is available to defray the costs of activities of students and their peers (e.g. museum entrance fees, movie theaters).

Obviously, there's really nothing better for learning the language than to live with a Russian family and socialize with Russian peers. They don't converse with you in English at all, which I really like because it forces you to learn to communicate whether you like it or not. Improvement is usually very rapid, and there is a great sense of achievement that comes with being able to hold long, intelligent conversations with Russians on all sorts of topics. (P-i-P participant, 2006)

ACCOMMODATIONS Students in P-i-P stay with Russian families through a homestay program run by the Derzhavin Institute. The Program provides our students with a single room and two meals per day from hosts who generally do not speak English. One advantage of the homestay program is that it reinforces students' learning by putting them in an environment where they must communicate in Russian.I learned the most Russian and had some of the most rewarding moments while talking with my host family. Just after two months, I made a wonderful friend -- I still e-mail my host mother's daughter. She helped me stay motivated and inspired to learn the language (P-i-P participant, 2006)

The program fee, which covers all tuition, room and board (a home stay with two meals a day), and excursions, is heavily subsidized by the University for Princeton undergraduates. Students are expected to contribute roughly $3,000 toward the program fee in addition to covering the cost of their plane tickets ($1500-$2000), visa costs ($140), and spending money. Those with demonstrable financial need can apply for financial support from various University funds and are eligible for loans from the Office of Financial Aid. For a list of funding sources, click here .Questions about available funds through OIP should be directed to Mel Bolen via e-mail at (link sends e-mail). Students on financial aid may also apply for loans through the Office of Financial Aid.
CULTURAL ACTIVITIESStudents on the Princeton in St. Petersburg program may participate in a number of cultural activities. Excursions led by English-speaking guides will introduce them to St. Petersburg’s rich cultural heritage and complement the students’ course work.

In the past, options have included the following:
Bus tour of the city: Giving students a brief overview of the sights, this tour, which is recommended near the beginning of the program, is a great way to orient oneself in St. Petersburg.

Dostoevsky Memorial Museum

Dostoevsky disliked the Imperial neo-classical beauty of St. Petersburg. Unlike the poet Alexander Pushkin, he did not appreciate the solemn side of the Northern capital of Russia. He preferred the somber aspects of the city, and he always resided in the darker areas of it, where his own characters lived.

We will visit Dostoevsky's apartment on Kuznechnyi Lane, where the writer lived during the last three years of his life with his wife and children, and where he wrote his last novel The Brothers Karamazov. This apartment is located near the bustling Haymarket Square, where Raskolnikov makes a symbolic gesture of repentance for his crime by kissing the earth.

From the balcony of Dostoevsky's apartment one can see St. Vladimir cathedral, the church Dostoevsky regularly visited during the last years of his life. Like other places in St. Petersburg where he lived, the location of this apartment was meaningful for him. It faces an intersection, essential for Dostoevsky, for whom thresholds, gates, and crossroads symbolized human freedom and the possibility of choice.

Learn about the St. Petersburg cityscape in the time of Dostoevsky on this tour, which includes Haymarket Square, the house in which Sonya, had a room, Raskolnikov’s path to the pawnbroker and two possibilities for the location of Raskolnikov’s garret room. Try to solve the mystery by counting the steps it takes to get between these places as described in Crime and Punishment.

Peter and Paul Fortress

When St. Petersburg was founded in 1703, the Peter and Paul Fortress was one of the first completed structures. Today, it contains the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where Russia’s tsars from Peter the Great to Nicholas II are buried, the Trubetskoy Bastion Prison, in which Dostoevsky, Gorky and Trotsky were at various times incarcerated, and other buildings housing exhibitions on St. Petersburg history. Take a stroll along the Southern Wall for great views of the city.

Organized trip to Novgorod

Students will be able to compare first-hand the Western-oriented northern capital to other Russian cities. In the past, they have celebrated the mid-point of the program (after completing one semester’s worth of instruction) with a one-day trip to the ancient Russian city of Novgorod. Visitors to the city can see the 11th century St. Sophia Cathedral, along with numerous other churches and an extremely well-restored Kremlin. Sampling traditional Novgorodian cuisine at the restaurant Detinets in one of the Kremlin towers is a particular treat. Students in the past have also visited a nearby working monastery and an outdoor museum of peasant life and architecture. In the evenings in Novgorod one can stroll through the Kremlin grounds or take cruise on a river boat.


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This program is not currently accepting applications. Please consult the sponsoring department's website for application open dates.
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This program is currently not accepting applications.