Ein Mann hält ein Papierflugzeug aus einer Weltkarte in die Höhe

...in Saint Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg University, Graduate School of Management (GSOM), St. Petersburg, Russia

Maria Melchert spent a semester abroad at St. Petersburg University, Graduate School of Management (GSOM). In an interview, she tells us how she experienced her time in Russia.


Why did you choose Russia as a destination?

  • I spent the last five months in St. Petersburg, Russia, as part of a semester abroad and was able to get to know the country, the people and the Russian culture. I chose this city because I have been learning Russian for several years.

How did you experience the arrival and your first days in St. Petersburg?

  • I arrived in Russia at the end of January. I had just missed the big cold, but St. Petersburg was still deeply covered in snow. St. Petersburg University GSOM offers a buddy team that takes good care of exchange students and also organizes an introduction week including sightseeing. The first nights in the Russian dormitory were quite a culture shock, but thanks to a friend I was able to move into my apartment in the heart of "Piter" just two days later and really settle in. Quite quickly I fell in love with the beautiful city. In my opinion, St. Petersburg is the most interesting city in Russia when it comes to culture, but at the same time it is also a very modern metropolis with great restaurants and bars.

How were the courses organized at the partner university?

  • Even before the actual courses started, I took the course "Doing Business in Russia", which was supposed to give us an insight into the Russian working world by writing a business plan. The courses I took at GSOM were interactive and included several group assignments in addition to the final exams. In general, a lot of value is placed on teamwork. Unlike at WU, Russian students spend their four years of study in class-like constellations.

Did you have the opportunity to gain experience outside of university?

  • Fortunately, there was enough time besides university to get to know the city and other parts of Russia. I spent May 9, Russia's biggest holiday, in Moscow. The big highlight of my stay, however, was without a doubt our final trip to Lake Baikal. From St. Petersburg, we flew to Yekaterinburg, where we boarded the Trans-Siberian Railway. For 48 hours we traveled 4,000 kilometers in 3rd class through 4 time zones to Irkutsk. In our luggage only bananas, instant soups, cookies and of course vodka. After a night in Irkutsk, we went to the village of Listvyanka, located on Lake Baikal. According to a Russian proverb, you live seven years longer once you have swum in the deepest lake of the world. Of course, we had to jump into water which was 3 degrees cold.

Is there something that you will miss?

  • Saying goodbye to St. Petersburg was especially hard for me, because it was the White Nights and we enjoyed the endless days on the numerous roof terraces and bars. All in all, I found a second home in St. Petersburg and will miss the particular Russian logic, which often seems to be none for us.

Content and photos by Maria Melchert. Thank you very much!

St. Petersburg University, Graduate School of Management (GSOM)
  • Location: St. Petersburg, Russia

  • Population of St. Petersburg: approx. 4,900,000

  • Number of students: approx. 1,300

  • Accreditations: EQUIS, AMBA, ACCA

  • Exchange level: Bachelor, Master