General Packing Suggestions

Plan carefully what to bring, keeping in mind that you will have to carry all of your own luggage while traveling. This means travel light. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

Consider what you will use for luggage. Durable backpacks are lightweight and easy to carry.  As you pack for the flight over, also keep in mind that you will be carrying this same luggage by yourself, sometimes over great distances or on crowded trains. Take things that are easy to manage and avoid over-packing. It is also prudent to bring at least one bag or container that can be securely locked for storage of money or valuables, and a smaller bag that can be used for weekend trips out of town.

Clothing

Bring clothing that is comfortable, durable, and suited for the climate of the area in which you will be studying. Most students will wear clothes longer between washings than they do in the U.S. Choose if possible permanent press and and drip-dry materials.  Durable fabrics are most preferable. Bring clothes for different occasions: sports, classes, and dress occasions.

You will be walking and waiting for and standing on public transportation a great deal. Comfortable walking shoes and waterproof insulated boots are essential. You should waterproof your boots before departing or bring a can of waterproofing solution with you.

We recommend that you do not bring expensive jewelry or items that can only be dry-cleaned.

Winter coats and boots can be worn over on the flight to save room in your luggage. Conversely, you may wish to wait to buy a winter coat and boots in Russia.  Prices may be higher than in the U.S. ($150-$300 for boots and $200-$500 for a winter coat), but there is a variety of international brands available, and you can find cheaper clothing.

The “dress code” in Russia is close to practices in the West,  although some Russian women prefer a more elegant style over casual.

Please consider that in Irkutsk students will be participating in outdoor excursions, including trekking, where hiking boots will be very useful.

You should be prepared for extremes in weather. Following are average low/high temperatures in Russia (in Fahrenheit):
Moscow                         Irkutsk

37/48                             25/45           October

26/35                               3/23           November

3/24                               -22/7            Dec-Feb

18/32                               1/27           March

34/50                             25/46           April

46/66                             34/59           May

Temperatures in Yaroslavl will generally be slightly lower than those in Moscow.

Bring clothing that is comfortable, durable, and suited for the climate of the area in which you will be studying. Most students will wear clothes longer between washings than they do in the U.S. and wash clothes by hand. Choose hand-washable, permanent press, and drip-dry materials.  Durable fabrics are most preferable. Bring clothes for different occasions: sports, classes, and dress occasions.

You will be walking and waiting for and standing on public transportation a great deal. Comfortable walking shoes and waterproof insulated boots are essential. You should waterproof your boots before departing or bring a can of waterproofing solution with you.

We recommend that you not bring expensive jewelry or items that can only be dry-cleaned.

Winter coats and boots can be worn over on the flight to save room in your luggage. Conversely, you may wish to wait to buy a winter coat and boots in Russia.  Prices may be higher than in the U.S. ($150-$300 for boots and $200-$500 for a winter coat), but there is a variety of international brands available, and you can find cheaper clothing.

The “dress code” in Russia is close to practices in the West,  although some Russian women prefer a more elegant style over casual.

Please consider that in Irkutsk students will be participating in outdoor excursions, including trekking, where hiking boots will be very useful.

Bed and Bath Linens

We do not recommend that you bring sheets, blankets, or pillows with you. They are too heavy and take up too much space in your luggage.  These items are also costly to ship in advance and can be easily purchased once you arrive in Russia.  If you are going to be living with a host family or in an HSE dormitory, sheets, towels, and blankets will often be provided.

Prescriptions

Not all medications available in the United States and Europe have been approved for sale in Russia.  Even if they have been approved, they are not always widely available.  Do not assume that you will be able to renew any particular prescription while in Russia.

If you are taking any prescription medications, you should bring a full supply for the semester/year with you in your carry-on luggage and bring copies of all the appropriate prescriptions with you. Mailing medicines across borders is extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive, due to international drug trafficking laws, and we do NOT recommend it. Prescription medicines should be left in the original containers.  It is also suggested that you carry the original prescription or a note from your doctor confirming your condition, to avoid questioning.

Please also note that in the event that a prescription must be replaced in Russia, you must have the generic name of your medication on the prescription, in addition to the American ‘brand’ name.  Amoxicillin, for example, is sold under a different name in Russia.  Local doctors will not be able to assist you in filling a prescription unless you know the generic/Latin name of the drug that you need.

Toiletries

Toiletries are readily available throughout most of Russia and generally cost as much as they would at home.  If you are particular about brands, you may want to pack an appropriate supply of the articles you regularly use. This is particularly true for women, in terms of feminine hygiene.  Not all Western brands are available, and those that are will be more expensive than the Russian version.  Otherwise, we recommend that you pack enough toiletries to last one month, then plan on purchasing additional items in Russia.

Electrical Appliances

U.S. domestic appliances operate on 110 volts (60 cycles), while Russian appliances use 220-240 volts (50 cycles).  If you plan to bring any electrical appliances you will need to bring a converter, adapter, and/or transformer, unless these are built into your appliance.

Electrical appliances with voltage transformers built-in will still require a round-prong plug adapter in Russia.  These plug adapters are widely available in Russian cities and are inexpensive.

Smart Phones and Cell Phones

One of the most important things to remember when you arrive in Russia is a cell phone. Not all US phones can work in Europe, so to use your existing cell phone in Russia, please check with your provider which standard it is operating in and whether your phone is “unlocked”. To able to use a Russian carrier’s SIM card you usually have to unlock your smartphone in the US or buy a cheap unlocked phone when you arrive​. ​Each carrier’s unlocking process can be found online with a web search. We strongly recommend that you take care of this while still in the US.

During orientation, Middlebury School in Russia will ​assist​ you in ​getting​ a SIM Card and/or buying​ a phone if needed.

Computers

Please consider the following factors in making a determination of whether or not to bring a computer with you to Russia:

Russian students hand-write some of their course work and Middlebury students will often be expected to do the same. However, term papers in many mainstream classes and School in Russia classes must be typed.

E-mail, Internet, and printer access is available for a fee at all of our host universities and at local Internet cafes. Wireless internet access is very  common in Russia, and is available in many cafes and restaurants. Mobile internet access could be also a good solution.

There is a risk of theft, which, for some students, outweighs the benefits of having a personal laptop in Russia.

Students should be aware that, as with all personal belongings, Middlebury doesn’t provide any insurance or compensation in case of loss or theft. Check your parents’ home owner’s insurance policy or see: www.safeware.com for more information.

Gifts

People in Russia frequently exchange small gifts and you may want to take a supply for host families, friends, teachers, and acquaintances.  A guide for choosing gifts is to select those that mean something to you and are light and easily packed.  You might consider the following ideas:

  • Books – books about the U.S., poetry, art and photography books, children’s picture books, American fiction and best sellers, etc.
  • College paraphernalia of all kinds:  T-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, pens, postcards
  • Small souvenirs of the U.S.: postcards, buttons, pins, stickers, magnets, cards, U.S.  stamps, flags.

Other Suggested Items

  • Overnight bag for short trips out of town
  • Shoulder bag or knapsack for daily use
  • YakTrax
  • Small first aid kit
  • Ziplock bags to use for wet clothes and other small items
  • Plastic containers for medicines, cosmetics, etc.
  • Travel-sized sewing kit (in checked bag)
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Laptop (and plug adapter), electronic gadgets
  • Money belt
  • Recipes from home to share with host family

Recent recommendations from students include bringing vitamins, Pepto Bismol, and allergy medications, especially non-prescription Sudafed or general cold medications with pseudoephdrine. Claritin is available in Russia. Also, consider bringing medicines for reoccurring ailments that might reappear during your time abroad such as insomnia, athlete’s foot, ear or eye infections, etc. Women prone to yeast or urinary tract infections should pack medicine to treat them.