If you want be an eyewitness to modern socio-political and economic change, then Russia may be the place for you. How Russia continues to develop in the current century after the breakup of the Soviet Union will impact the rest of the world. Those who have studied abroad in Russia and understand the inner workings of Russian culture will be valuable in helping to create, shape, and analyze the future of a country that has seen very recent dramatic changes. Russia has experienced revolution twice in one century: once in 1917 and again, more recently, in 1991. The first one saw the rise of the socialists, while the second brought forth ideas of Western democracy, including a free-market economy.
Decades ago, the U.S. government found it necessary to support and encourage students of all ages to learn about Russia for matters of national security and technological advancement. The launch of Sputnik in 1957 proved the greatness of Soviet science to the world, and made the United States aware of the importance of understanding Soviets and the Soviet Union.
But just because the Cold War is over doesn't mean that Russia has nothing to teach us. Any student interested in nuclear science, international relations, or political science would greatly benefit from learning about the past and present of Russia's armaments and how they affect world politics. Russia is more open to collaboration than ever before. The nation provides and seeks out opportunities to work with U.S. scientists and astronauts, as well as with other nations.
Aside from Russian science and politics, Russian culture contributes greatly to sports and the arts. Russia is known for both the discipline of Olympic medal-winning gymnasts and Bolshoi ballet. There are also the writings of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and the music of Tchaikovsky. Students interested in art and history have many museums to choose from, especially in the area of St. Petersburg. The Hermitage is one of the world's great fine arts museums in the heart of St. Petersburg. Russia’s history is one of the most rich and exciting, and it is still in the making. With strong characters from Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great to Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin, historians, psychologists, military strategists, and literature majors will all benefit from studying Russian history in the heartland.
For many years it was nearly impossible for an American student to travel to Russia, but now things are changing. However, these are still turbulent times, so if Russia interests you, make sure you are always aware of the latest travel advisories. It’s important that you maintain your safety while you enjoy all that Russia has to offer.