The "beginners" class with their teacher, Galina. (2006)
Irkutsk, Pop. 600,000, is located on the Angara River, 70 km from Baikal. The Angara is the only river which flows from Baikal (over 400 rivers flow into the lake, however). Irkutsk benefits from a large hydroelectric power station built on the Angara, which supplies electricity to the whole region.
Students and faculty were housed with native host families. Students were housed in pairs, so that each student who had not taken Russian lived with a fellow student who had taken courses in the language. Students ate breakfast and dinner with their families, and the group met for lunch daily at the university.
The academic aspect, in terms of formal classroom instruction, took place at Irkutsk State Linguistic University.Students were split into two groups, a beginning and advanced group for Russian language instruction.Classes were held every weekday morning, most afternoons if we did not have an excursion planned, and some early evenings.Over the course of stage one of the trip, students completed 33 50-minute classes in language, and eight classes in a topics course (taught in English) entitled “Siberia Today.”
Relaxing after lunch in Listvyanka. (2006)
The cultural program included four excursions to museums, a meeting with an environmental activist, a roundtable discussion with advanced students at the university, and a day trip to Listvyanka, on the shores of Baikal, including a visit to the Limnological Museum. Students' families also took students to their dachas, the lake or the opera.