North America…Europe…Australasia…Siberia? If you’re like most students thinking about studying abroad, a few places may immediately come to mind. Not likely to be among them is Siberia. But just because this vast Russian region isn’t one of the most well-known international study spots doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. Read on for a roundup of six reasons why aspiring international students should seriously consider Siberia.
1. It’s a natural wonderland.
You’re far from alone if endless miles of frozen tundra come to mind with mere mention of the word ‘Siberia’. And while it’s true that there’s plenty of that students in Siberia can find, this is part of its appeal.
Conde Nast Traveler says, “When practically every inch of the globe has been Google-mapped, accessing the Siberian wilderness in winter […] proves freedom of travel is the true sign of luxury.”
2. Its climate is extraordinary (yes, you read that right).
Yes, it’s cold in Siberia in winter -- but the warmth of the summers might surprise you. Students can delight in the snowy landscape of winter and then, with perhaps more time in the summer break, enjoy Siberia’s summer sun.
Elena Limanova, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Siberia’s Novosibirsk State University (NSU), says, “It is cold -- but hot inside. Literally and figuratively: by contrast to the cold outside, there are extra warm leaving spaces; by contrast to the stereotype of gloomy Russians, they are actually warm and emotional.”
In the summers, temperatures reach into the 30s and a whole new Siberia emerges. “This place transforms into paradise. Warmer temperatures bring vacationing Russians to [Lake] Baikal’s shores in swimsuits. Verdant taiga forests curtain glistening blue water. […] This is the “Galapagos of Russia,” after all, teeming with endemic wildlife, and one of the oldest lakes in the world, at around 25 million years old,” writes Ashley Schneider.
3. It’s off the beaten track, but still close to culture.
Big cities can be thrilling, but, in terms of day-to-day student living, they also have their downsides, such as crime, crowds, and pollution. Siberia is removed from these problems. Akademgorodok, home to NSU, is, in many ways, its own specific world. It is surrounded by leading academic organisations including the Central Siberian Geological Museum, the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics, and the Vorozhtsov Novosibirsk Institute of Organic Chemistry. Also, it is just a 30 minutes walk to the beach and, if you find yourself yearning for culture, there is lots of it within easy reach in central Novosibirsk.
Evgeniy Pavlovskiy, Ph.D., who heads up the SDAML laboratory at NSU, says, “This means no disadvantages of the big city, like noise or smog, but all the benefits: make sure you go to see the Nutcracker in the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the largest theatre in Russia with a world-famous theatrical troupe.”
4. You can take “the greatest train journey on Earth.”
Two years ago, the Trans-Siberian railway turned 100 years old. And it’s just as extraordinary today as it was a century ago. Recently, The Telegraph hailed this huge single rail system as the world's greatest train journey, for its remarkable scale, scenery, people, the provodnitsa carriage attendants, the hawkers at each stop, and the cities it stops at, including Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Vladivostok, and the “Paris of Siberia”, Irkutsk.
You can also reach the area by air, by flying into Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport, which offers direct flights not only to several Russian cities, but to many countries in Asia and Europe too.
5. It’s very affordable
Students in Siberia can get a top education while not breaking the bank like many peers in Europe, Australasia, or North America. Even in the capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk, a meal and a drink in town costs just $5 or so, average monthly rent for a 45 metres squared property is around $270, and the typical monthly internet comes in at just $8.
6. A great university is waiting at its center.
The higher education in the region is very strong and leading the way is Novosibirsk State University (NSU). Located just outside Novosibirsk -- the third biggest city in Russia, the center of Siberia and its largest transport hub -- NSU is one of Russia’s best universities. As such, it offers many advantages, including great labs and scientific facilities; diverse study options including summer programs and internships; and a multicultural environment bringing together students from all over the world. There are 1,400 foreign students from 57 countries, meaning foreign students will find many friendly faces and many people in the same boat as them.
English-language master’s students can choose from degrees in big data analytics, cryptography, financial management, materials science, oil and gas management, quantitative economics, and classics and philosophy. The university also offers a full range of university programs taught in Russian -- everything from philosophy to natural science -- and a Russian language, literature and culture for foreigners program, designed for international students to immerse themselves in Russian culture.
With 7,000 students and 2,500 faculty members, NSU is also relatively small, meaning students have more opportunities to engage with their instructors, as well as with real scientists. The school’s size facilitates individualized learning tracks for students and it also has opportunities for research internships for international students.
And then there’s its inimitable location, which cannot be overlooked or underestimated. “It’s a unique place in terms of environment – all university facilities, dormitories, […] Institutes of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences […] are surrounded by beautiful pine forest. We have feedback from our international students that they really consider this environment as unique,” explains Pavlovskiy.
Pavlovskiy adds that the school is in the world-famous scientific center of Akademgorodok, with 80% (around 2000) of NSU faculty members being scientists from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “So education is carried out in close connection with the world-class scientific achievements. More than a hundred research labs are engaged in subject areas highly demanded in the world agenda. Students can do the real, serious science to become a part of the international scientific community and science-intensive industry,” he adds.
“Moreover it is the scientific center of Russia. Novosibirsk is among top 20 Best Student Cities in the world according to the availability of education. Ranking specialists especially point out the unique R&D atmosphere of the Academgorodok center where Novosibirsk State University is located. As our Indian students say it much less crowded.”
No international study destination rivals Siberia in terms of uniqueness – and there’s no better time in life to embrace the spirit of exploration than as an international student, and no better place to do so than at NSU!