Educational Differences

Russian students tend to relate to their professors with greater deference than do American students to American educators. Students always address professors in the formal, Вы and by имя и отчество.  It is not common practice for Russian students to converse freely with, or question the opinions of, their professors.  This is both a matter of learning philosophy and classroom etiquette, and American students will likely find less interaction in their courses in Russia than you are used to at home.  You may even encounter situations in which their professors scold or actively disagree with your opinions.  This is, believe it or not, a normal part of the educational philosophy in Russia and should not be taken personally.

Conversely, a variety of practices that we take for granted in the United States are considered rude or otherwise inappropriate in the Russian educational setting.  You should follow these local rules of etiquette at all times:

Sitting on the floors and steps at the university is not accepted in Russia, nor will you ever see Russian students place their feet on desks.

Eating or drinking in class is never done, and American students routinely offend instructors by drinking from bottles of water or eating snacks during class periods. Food and drink should only be consumed before or after class.

Coats, jackets, and hats should always be checked at the university coat check and never worn or carried into the classroom. It is usually a sign of disrespect to the instructor to bring your coat into the classroom with you.

When attending lectures in mainstream classes, you will sometimes see that not all Russian students are paying close attention to what is being said and may act rudely towards professors, this does not mean that you should too! Remember that Russian students who converse or are constantly on their phones in class will probably be able to cram for finals.

When asked about student attire in Russia, a School in Russia staff member responded, “Russian students dress very respectably for class. Wear what you feel comfortable in – but sweats in class are a big faux pas.”