My semester abroad in Moscow

The 29th of August 2012 is a day I will remember for a long time. This the day my adventure in Moscow started. Of course I was a little bit nervous but on the other hand very excited to experience a semester abroad. I had studied for 3 years in the University of Applied Science in Utrecht (Hogeschool Utrecht) and I just finished my year as treasurer in the board of Directors of the student tennis club in Utrecht. So it was time for something new and I had found it by following my minor abroad. People asked me why Russia? In the Netherlands it is not really a common choice but that was actually one of the main reasons for me to choice for Moscow. I didn’t know a lot about Moscow, Russia and his culture and that made it more interesting for me.

When I arrived at DomodedovoAirport I actually didn’t really know what I could expect of the city. Some of the buddies (very good system by the way) picked me and some other international students up at the airport and we took the train to Paveletskaya train station. Arrived in the dorm I met my roommates and other international students. The next two weeks I felt more like a tourist than a student. I couldn’t read and understand the language, didn’t know the way and everything was new. But thanks to the help of the buddies, the international students and the different trips we made in the beginning I felt immediately at home. After one month everything felt more familiar.

To be honest, the level of the lectures was not the same as I was used to. Most of the courses where quite easy except for logistics and Russian because they were completely new courses for me. Unfortunately I missed too many Russian classes because I was lazy or I was travelling around. When I look back this was the only part a regretted during my stay, because I didn’t learn enough about the language.  

Besides of studying a travelled and partied a lot (maybe too much). The nightlife of Moscow was great and I also had a lot of fun during ‘piva management’ but  I wanted to see more than only Moscow. In October I went to Saint Petersburg and in November I experienced the Tran Siberian Express. We travelled to the Baikal Lake and had an amazing time. On the way back we visited the cities Krasnoyarsk and Yekaterinburg. Furthermore I went to Kiev and in December we made an awesome dog sledge tour in Karelia.  

When I look back I think a learned a lot during my stay in Moscow. I made new (international)friends, lived for the first time abroad, experienced a different culture, learned how to drink vodka properly;) and I guess just the whole experience of studying abroad is good for your general knowledge. Russia has not always a positive image in Western Europe but I didn’t experience that at all. People are generally friendly, curious and not every man is an alcoholic haha.

Last but not least I wanted to say Я люблю Россию and I still miss it!


Colin Graumans, Exchange undergraduate student from University of Applied Science in Utrecht, Netherlands 

Fall Semester 2012