You have been admitted to a Russian university and obtained a student visa; now you have to get to your place of study. You can do it on your own or ask university staff to help.
Russia has a developed public transportation system, so getting to the university is not a problem. It is important to have your route plotted in advance. As a rule, university representatives provide foreign nationals with a detailed guide on getting to the campus. Step-by-step guides are offered by Higher School of Economics, National University of Science and Technology MISIS, Siberian Federal University, ITMO National Research University and other higher education centres. The public transport option is the cheapest. As a rule, you can take a bus, taxi or electric train from the airport to your destination. Large cities have the Aeroexpress high-speed train service. It is best to book an aeroexpress ticket in advance to cut the fare; discounts are available for groups of two people or more.
Mobile maps that to not require Internet access can help you find your way around in the new place. Among them are Google, Yandex.Maps, 2GIS etc. Just don’t forget to download them to your mobile phone or tablet. Also, there are useful applications such as Yandex.Transport that work in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Krasnoyask, Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk etc. You can map a route, track public transport online and refill “Troika” or “Strelka” public transport cards. Yandex.Metro maps the route to the destination station, shows journey time and metro maps of Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities. Tutu.ru is an application showing suburban and long distance train schedules.
You can also take a taxi. Hire it at airport taxi stands or use a dedicated application such as Uber, Rutaxi, GettTaxi, Yandex.Taxi etc. Download the application in advance. Never take a private taxi - it is not safe and much more expensive, also, there is no guarantee that you will be taken to the right destination.
If you plan to reach your destination by taking a plane and then changing to a train, book your train ticket in advance. Use online services; for example a Russian Railways application. Internal flight tickets can also be purchased online. Look for them with Skyscanner, Momondo, AviaSales, Google Flights etc; however, buying tickets on airlines’ official websites is safer. Read more about the Russian transportation system here.
A majority of Russian universities help students get to the campus. As a rule, student volunteer organisations representatives meet foreign nationals. They accompany the newcomers to the place of residence and show the city, shops, cafes and dining halls, help buy SIM-cards and travel cards and settle everyday issues. If you are accompanied by a volunteer, their assistance is free; you only pay public transport or taxi fares. Sometimes, universities arrange airport or railway terminal transfers for free or for a fee. Find out the details at your university.
Following are some examples of how top Russian universities representatives meet international students.
Higher School of Economics: university volunteer organisation members meet international students. A prospective student, when filling out the application, can request a volunteer’s assistance.
National University of Science and Technology MISIS: Buddy’s Programme volunteers meet international students.
National Research Nuclear University MEPhI: Russian-speaking students get to the university unassisted. MEPhI volunteers meet non-Russian speakers.
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology: No pickup service is available. However, getting to the MIPT campus is easy. Here are the options:
Take a train from Savyolovsky terminal, Timiryazevskaya station or Okruzhnaya station to Novodachnaya or Dolgoprudnaya station.
Take bus/fixed route taxi 368 from Khovrino metro station to Platforma Dolgoprudnaya station.
Take bus 472 from Skhodnenskaya metro station to Platforma Dolgoprudnaya.
Take fixed route taxi 545 from Altufyevo metro station to MFTI (MIPT) stop.
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia: airport pickup upon request at the university website seven days before arrival in Russia. The service is unavailable to residents of CIS/European countries, postgraudates and medical residency students.
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University: tutors meet international students at the airport/railway terminal. Request the pickup using a special form.
Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI”: see the options below 1. A volunteer can meet an international student at the airport/railway terminal.
The university can arrange an individual transfer. In the latter case, a volunteer holding a University sign meets the student at the exit of the arrivals area. As of today, the approximate fee for Pulkovo airport transfer amounts to 1,000 to 1,500 rubles ($15 - $25). Group transfers are paid for by the University.
Lobachevsky University: transfer fee is 1,000 rubles/$15
ITMO National Research University: Buddy System Club volunteers meet international masters students, international summer school participants and exchange students. An international student has to contact university representatives at least three weeks before the arrival to inform them about the arrival date and time and the flight number. The university then provides an assistant, and the young people can meet and talk online in advance. The welcome service is unavailable for bachelor’s students.
Samara University: the pickup is only arranged for groups of three or more people. In other cases, a student has to reach the campus on their own by public transport or taxi. The average taxi fare from the airport to the university is 1,000 rubles/$15, from railway terminal - 250 rubles/$4. Upon arrival at the university, a student gets help from a volunteer (from their home country, wherever possible).
Tomsk State University: Send your pickup request to email@example.com together with the ticket scan at least one week before the arrival. Tomsk airport transfer: 1,000 rubles/$15, Novosibirsk airport transfer: 4,500 rubles/$70. The final fee per person depends on the number of arrivals.
Tomsk Polytechnic University: airport/railway pickup is included in the application fee of 75 euros.
Novosibirsk State University: airport transfer for a fee of 1,500 rubles/$25.
Siberian Federal University: free transfer from Krasnoyarsk airport. A student has to send their welcome service request to firstname.lastname@example.org a week before the arrival, designating the flight number, date/time of arrival and the number of newcomers. A SibFU staffer holding a University sign will meet you at the airport.
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University: international students get to the campus on their own.
Kazan Federal University: a fee-based airport welcome service. Airport transfer fee: 1,000 rublrs/$15, railway terminal transfer: 400 rubles/$6.
South Ural State University: international students’ compatriots meet them at the airport/railway terminal wherever possible; assistance is sometimes provided by locals (tutors). They take the new arrivals to the campus, help fill out documents, and show the city, cafes, and places of entertainment.
University of Tyumen: International Students Support Service personnel, country centres coordinators and volunteers meet foreign nationals at the airport/railway terminal.