Health and Safety
Foreign women in Russia need to be a bit more cautious than they would at home, keeping in mind that in this more traditional culture, actions that we consider normal can be taken as overly forward or inappropriate. Among other things, women should not be smiling at men they do not know – this is not a common practice in Russian culture and may be misinterpreted as flirting. This is especially true when it comes to men from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Women from these societies are more sheltered than in ours, and men are not as accustomed to casual interaction with women. If you look too friendly, or enter too freely into conversations with them, you may have problems ranging from the amusing to the seriously annoying or dangerous. Russian men also have a reputation for being somewhat more chauvinistic than American men and can be rather forceful in making sexual advances. Be careful of putting yourself in situations that might be misinterpreted.
In all situations with Russians, it will take you a while to figure out who’s who. At home you can tell pretty quickly if a new acquaintance is someone you want to get to know better or can trust, or if this new acquaintance spells trouble. In Russia you will lack the cultural background needed to make these determinations and may miss some signals, especially at the beginning of your stay.
In other words, use common sense. As a foreign student, you should take the same precautions you would in any large city, anywhere in the world. During orientation, we will address the issue of security in greater depth. For more information about general conditions in Russia, you can also see the State Department information page. Middlebury does not permit students to travel, even independently and even while on break, to areas under a State Department travel advisory level 4 while enrolled in the program abroad.
Please review the following information carefully and thoroughly regarding health and safety abroad.
Hospitals and Medical Care
Psychological Health and Counseling
Birth Control and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Diet and Health
Allergies and Accommodations
Staying Safe in Russia
Sexual Assault and Harassment