Be a minimalist in your packing. When you have to carry your bags or worry about personal items, you’ll be glad that you traveled light. And remember that on international flights the usual baggage allowance is two suitcases. Within Russia, the weight limit for baggage is 20 kilos.
Passport and visa
2 Xerox copies of the information pages from your passport and 2 copies of your visa. Keep each copy in a separate place, eg. one copy at your apartment, one at the Gimnaziia. When traveling, keep the copies in a different bag or carry-on from your passport/visa.
Airplane tickets or Itinerary
2-3 copies of the name, address, phone number and FAX number of St. Petersburg Classical High School, and the name of the School’s Director (below). Store these sheets in separate places.
Malyi prospekt P. S. 9/6
St. Petersburg Classical High School
Your copy of THE TRAVELLER’S YELLOW PAGES (sent to you by Colby)
Addresses and telephone numbers of friends and family in the US.
Colby FAX is (207) 872-3805, attention Sheila McCarthy.
A pocket Russian-English, English-Russian dictionary.
Prescription medicine kit with physician’s letter; proof of AIDS test.
Non-prescription medical supplies.
Toiletry supplies, including facial tissues.
Electrical plugs, current is 127 and 220 volts.
Several pictures of your family, your home, your hometown, your college, your friends.
A few nice, well-chosen special gifts for your host family and your favorite instructors at the Gimnaziia. Something special from your part of the country is a nice gift from your family to your host family. If you know of crafts that are unique to your area, those gifts for the household would be thoughtful and personal. Picture books of your state or the US are also good. Calendars with local flavor are nice, especially for the students arriving in February. Small gifts from Colby– note paper, calendar, keyrings, etc. — are good. Current bestsellers are wonderful if your friends know English.
Student dress in St. Petersburg is very informal, similar to student dress in the US. Jeans, T-shirts, sweaters, sneakers are the norm. Do not take fussy clothes that require lots of care. Choose clothing that does not show every little spot and does not require ironing. Choose clothing that is sturdy and comfortable and clothing that you like to wear because you will be wearing the same 4-5 changes of clothes for 4 months.
You should have one “dress-up” outfit. For men this means slacks, shirt, sports jacket, and tie. For women this means a skirt, sweater or blouse, and jacket, or a dress, if you prefer. There will not be many occasions for dressing up, but if you are invited to a celebration of any kind in someone’s home or at a restaurant or to a big theater evening, you will feel more appropriately dressed if you have something nice to wear.
You will need warm clothing for winter months — November through March. A parka/ski jacket, woolen cap, scarf, and gloves/mittens are good outer wear. (The hat, by the way, is essential; every Russian wears a hat in cold weather). In St. Petersburg the problem is usually dampness and slush rather than extreme cold, so take particular care with good boots that are waterproof and warm socks. A set of thermal underwear is a good idea. It is also possible to buy them in Russia if you wish to pack light, but shoes are much more expensive in Russia than in the United States.
EXTRAS THAT ARE NICE TO HAVE
Pocket calculator; hairdryer; electric shaver; compact umbrella; some leisure reading paperbacks just for relaxation and as good gifts for English-speaking friends; a collection of little souvenirs to give out here and there, such as college stickers or note pads, funny buttons or pins, postcards from home town and favorite places, US stamps, cush balls.
The best source of information about packing essentials are the students who have recently participated in the program. Do arrange to talk with them here on campus or by phone because they will give you the best and most-detailed information.
If you forget something, do not despair. There are several shops throughout the city that provide basic amenities at prices comparable to those in the US.
WHAT NOT TO BRING
Do not bring anything with you that has great sentimental value—you will most likely not use it, and it may be lost or stolen. Avoid bringing unnecessary electrical appliances (hair dryers, etc.) since Russia uses a different electrical current as well as completely different plugs. If you do need to bring an appliance, make sure it is rated for both 110V (US) and 220V (RU), and that you have a plug adapter.