History, culture, and atmosphere
Despite its relatively young age (the city has just marked its 320th anniversary), St. Petersburg has played an enormous role in global history and culture – which means there is plenty for you to learn outside the classroom, too. St. Pete, as English-speaking locals choose to call it, is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Hermitage Museum, Peter and Paul Fortress, and St. Isaac’s Cathedral being just a few. There is perhaps no better place to gain an understanding of Russian culture, admire works of incomparable beauty, and feel a connection with the turning points of history and some of its greatest figures.
Today, too, the city boasts a thriving arts scene. Aside from the world-renowned museums, there are countless art galleries to explore and music venues to visit. And the theaters here are unlike anywhere else – starting, of course, with the legendary Mariinsky. Combined, all these things create an air of culture and inspiration that will leave a lasting impression on any guest of the city.
Cost of living
Budget demands are one of, if not the most, important criteria for students preparing to move abroad. And when it comes to spending, St. Petersburg boasts a remarkable affordable cost of living compared to other major European cities or, as a matter of fact, the Russian capital, Moscow. Housing, transportation, and groceries are all quite budget-friendly – especially if you’re on a scholarship. For even more detailed info, visit Numbeo or our own cost-of-living breakdown and monthly student budget analysis.
Food (and coffee)
While it is great, as Russians say, to feast on food for the mind, we can’t forget about the more grounded experiences. St. Petersburg, thankfully, is a gastronomic paradise: from traditional Russian cuisine beyond borscht and pelmeni to foods from every corner of the world, the culinary scene is ever-expanding and always evolving.
And since caffeine is a founding stone of the student experience, there is no better place to find yourself cramming for exams. The rate of specialty coffee shops per square kilometer might well be among the highest in the world, encouraging constant experimentation and ensuring the high quality of that sacred drink.
The city’s public transit system, though always developing, is well-deserving of praise. The metro system – an art museum in itself – extends in every direction, providing easy access to dorms, universities, landmarks, and hangout spots. The bus, tram, and trolleybus network complements the metro even further. Or, as many locals do in the warmer seasons, you can even opt for a bicycle or kick scooter owing to the system of bike lanes and green spaces.
One of the most enchanting parts of life in St. Petersburg are white nights. In late spring and early summer, the sun shines for almost the entire 24 hours, enveloping the city in a romantic reddish-purple light. You can take advantage of the long days to explore the city, socialize, and simply admire this rare phenomenon.
Home to ITMO University
Last but not least, St. Petersburg is the home of ITMO University – a leading institution in science and tech. Though renowned for its expertise in the fields of IT, optics, and engineering, it also encourages the development of new fields of study: biotechnologies, quantum computing, digital humanities, and many more. Education at ITMO means access to world-class research facilities, experienced lecturers, and high-profile industrial partners.
The many advantages that St. Petersburg offers make it the perfect destination for a 21st-century student. Whether it’s knowledge, culture, or comfort you seek, you’ll find it here. Interested? Explore our guide for new arrivals to the city and learn more about admissions and scholarship opportunities at ITMO University.