What is Russian food like?
Most of our participants think that Russian food is absolutely delicious, but don't necessarily expect it to taste like the food you have at home. Be prepared to try a bit of everything - and don't just look for the closest alternative to your regular diet. Although they don't use the word, Russian food is very organic and does not have many additives. We do recommend that you bring some peanut butter with you...just in case. Click here for a food diary that contains the types of food you might eat in Russia.
I am a vegetarian. Will this be a problem at camp?
Vegetarians be warned - vegetarian diets are very rare in Russia. While the camp will do their best to accommodate you - your diet for the summer is likely to be repetitive and involve a lot of potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers. You should definitely bring peanut butter as a protein source.
What will the accommodations be like?
Accommodations are not luxurious and could, perhaps, even be called primitive. Adaptability is essential for this program! The children typically are housed in dorms, rather than the cabins that Americans are familiar with. Also, you may not actually be living with the children. It all depends on the camp in which you are placed.
How long can I stay in Russia?
Visas are valid until September 1st and cannot be extended beyond this
Do I need a visa?
Yes, you need a visa. CCUSA will arrange this for you - you will be asked to provide a photocopy of your passport at your interview. You will also need to send your passport to CCUSA so that the visa can be attached to your passport. Russians take paperwork like this very seriously, and you should carry your passport with you at all times when you are not at camp.
What are Russian camps like?
Russian camps share many similarities with American camps. Camps are a place for Russian children to relax and spend time enjoying childhood. There are many camp traditions, which you can sample by clicking here. Generally, camps are in more rural locations, and all program participants will be clustered together.
How will I get from Moscow to my camp?
By train. The trains allow us to see the country side and begin to learn more about everyday life in Russia. As we travel to Mari-El, you will be sharing a sleeping compartment with at least one other UGA/CCUSA participant.
Will the kids at camp speak English?
Some of the kids will speak a few words of English, but the majority of them won't. In some cases we make placements at language camps, where the kids actually go there to improve their English - this would be the exception rather than the rule. Click here for a very interesting essay written by a Russian child about what she thinks Americans would like to know about Russia.
Can I go with a friend?
We try to make placements based on your skills; matching you to the best-suited camp. You will be placed with at least one other participant. This option is possible but we would not be able to guarantee it.
How can I communicate with my family?
Russia's communication infrastructure in some places is quite poor with mail and telegram being the most reliable mode of communications in some areas. Depending on where you are in Russia, mail can take two to four weeks to get from the US to Russia. Definitely bring an international prepaid telephone card. International calls are best placed from international calling centers (post offices) which are available in most cities. We urge counselors to make this trip a few times during their stay. Camp directors are most helpful in arranging transportation to suitable telephone facilities, which may be right at camp. You could also rent an international cell phone (your regular cell phone probably will not work in Russia). Talk to your cell phone provider for more information. CCUSA offices in the home country and Moscow are ready for any urgent communications. Click here for some emails that Gwynn sent to home from Russia.
Will I be placed with other international counselors?
Volunteers are placed with at least one other CCUSA participant and between one and three other English speakers; the rest of the camp community is entirely Russian.
- I'm not a UGA student, can I still participate?
Yes! Non-UGA students can participate, and will be able to pay in-state tuition for the academic credit. You will need to apply for transient student status at UGA.
Can I use my financial aid for this?
Yes! You can use federal and state financial aid, including the HOPE scholarship, for study abroad. It may also be possible to use institutional aid; contact UGA's Office of Student Financial Aid, or the comparable unit at your institution regarding your specific types of aid.
I want to go, but my parents are unsure about Russia? How can I help them adjust?
We totally understand, and really you are lucky your parents worry about you! You have to remember the views Americans had were very different during the Cold War, so your parents may have a very different view of the former Soviet Union than you do about Russia. Please feel free to print off this letter from the Mom of one of our participants, and have them contact us if they would like Mrs. Jackson’s phone number. The older generations of Russians talk about how both of our governments spent a lot of propaganda money to get us to fear each other. That is one of the great things about this program. We are helping change those images by demonstrating that once we are around the same dinner table, we are all simply people.