Frequently asked questions
Time to be at school on your first day
- 9.00 in St.Petersburg (08.30 during high-season)
- 9.00 in Moscow
- 8.30 in Riga
Complete beginners should arrive 30 minutes later.
How do I get to school on the first day?
On your first day you will be brought to the school by someone from your host family. If you live in a shared flat, you can easily find your way to school following the instructions sent to you before your departure.
General Timetable St.Petersburg
Standard Group Course:
10.00 - 11.40 (2 lessons of 50 minutes, followed by a short break of 20 min)
12.00 - 13.40 (2 lessons of 50 minutes)
Afternoon shift (Intensive Course Supplement, Language Plus or Additional One-to-One Modules) starts at 14.00-15.00 - to be confirmed on your first day at school.
General Timetable Moscow
Standard Group Course:
10.00 - 13.50 (4 lessons of 50 minutes, each followed by a short break of 10 min)
Afternoon shift (Intensive Course Supplement, Language Plus or Additional One-to-One Modules) starts at 14.30-15.00 - to be confirmed on your first day at school.
General Timetable Riga
Standard Group Course:
09.00 - 10.40 (2 lessons of 50 minutes, followed by a short break of 10 minutes)
10.50 - 12.30 (2 lessons of 50 minutes)
Afternoon shift (Intensive Course Supplement, Language Plus or Additional One-to-One Modules) starts after 1 hour break at 13.30.
Can I choose to have lessons in the morning or afternoon?
If you book a one-to-one course, you can have your lessons in the afternoon. All group courses take place in the morning.
Can I change groups?
Yes, if you feel that you are in the wrong group, please talk to your teacher who will (after consultation with the Director of Studies) suggest you continue your studies in a group of a different level. If we find no suitable group for you, we will offer you an individual course with 75% of your booked group lessons.
What should I do if I do not understand a teacher during the lesson? Can I speak in English to him/her?
According to our method of teaching, all lessons are taught in Russian only. This is part of your immersion into Russian culture and will ensure you progress quickly. But please do not worry; if you do not understand something, the teacher will talk slowly and make sure you understand the tasks well. However, if it is still of great importance to have a teacher with foreign language knowledge, we may arrange individual lessons which meet your special requirements as much as possible.
Can I use my laptop in the school?
Yes, in all our campuses we provide wireless Internet for free.
Do I have to pay for teaching materials?
Textbooks and copies are included in the course fees. Additional material can be obtained at specialised bookshops.
What kind of certificate do I receive at the end of my stay?
All participants receive a graded certificate (in Russian) issued by Liden & Denz, stating the course type, course dates, number of hours, and level of Russian.
On Online Courses (live classes in virtual classrooms)
Do I have to install a special software on my computer or handheld device?
No. We are using Adobe Connect, the only thing you need is a browser, a microphone and loudspeakers. There are free apps available for mobile and handheld devices. Using a handheld device gives you the added benefit of a cyrillic on-screen keyboard
Can lessons be booked at different times or should they be same time on days picked?
Our calendar gives you an overview of available lesson slots. You can pick and choose as you wish.
If times and days are different does that mean a different teacher will be assigned?
No, we will make sure that you work with one teacher no matter on which days and times you have selected your lessons.
Do I have a choice as to what teacher I want?
As with our residential individual courses, you should indicate in the signup form for which main purpose you are learning Russian and you should also indicate your individual needs in the notes section of that form. This will be taken into account when we assign you a teacher.
What if I am not happy with one teacher and want to change?
All our teachers in the virtual classroom have been properly trained for distance learning. However – if you want to change, we will assign you a different teacher.
Can a lesson booked be postponed if other commitments prevent me from joining the lesson? Will a credit be issued?
If you let us know at least 24 hours prior to your planned lesson in writing to email@example.com, your lesson will not be lost and we will issue a credit.
I prefer to pay with a wire transfer. Can you issue an invoice with your IBAN credentials?
Yes, you can choose a ‘pay offline’ option and download a paper invoice with our banking details. In that case we will credit the amount of booked lessons as soon as we receive your payment.
Are certificates issued, as in your residential courses?
Yes, we issue the same certificates, which you will receive in the form of a signed and stamped PDF. On request we will airmail you the original certificate.
Are you only going to have the current times that you show? Is there a possibility of having lessons at different times or at weekends?
On request yes. Please send your preferences to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Travel and Arrival
Can I get my visa to Russia or Latvia upon arrival?
If you require a visa to study at one of our centres, you need to get it at your nearest consulate. The authorities will not allow you to enter either Russia or Latvia with no or non-valid travel documents.
How do I reach St.Petersburg and Moscow?
A number of international and Russian airlines offer regular flights to Moscow (international airports Sheremetievo SVO, Domodedovo DME and Vnukovo VKO) and to St.Petersburg (Pulkovo LED).
Train is another way to travel to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Students should be aware of the fact that if they plan to travel from Europe by train via Belarus they will need a valid transit Byelorussian visa to pass through this country. There is also a possibility to travel to St. Petersburg by bus or boat (from Helsinki, Finland or Baltic States).
Upon arrival in the airport visitors first pass the passport control, followed by the customs control. Visitors arriving with an invalid visa face stiff fines or are asked to leave the country immediately.
It is possible to change money at the airport in the arrival hall. There are also ATM (cash machines) which accept most credit cards (Master, Visa, Maestro).
Anything I need to know about Russian customs and passport control?
Upon arrival in Russia foreign visitors receive an immigration card they need to keep until departure. No customs declaration form needs to filled out if foreign visitors carry less than USD 10.000 or equivalent in other currencies. Detailed information about export restriction of art-work, paintings, musical instruments, cash, caviar etc. are available on request.
How do I travel between St. Petersburg and Moscow?
To travel from St.Petersburg to Moscow and vice-versa, students can either fly or go by train. There are plenty of flights per day between St.Petersburg and Moscow. Airfares are reasonable. Train is another very popular form of travel between the cities. In St.Petersburg trains for Moscow depart from the Moscow railway terminal (nearest metro station – Ploschad Vosstanya/Moskovsky Vokzal). Leningradsky Vokzal is a railway terminal in Moscow (nearest metro station – Komsomolskaya) to leave for St.Petersburg. There are several night trains that depart late in the evening and arrive early morning. High-speed services during the day (Sapsan) will have reduced travel times to under 4 hours. Trains are clean, safe and comfortable. Some trains offer business class services.
How do I reach Riga?
Riga airport (RIX) is easily accessible from most European hubs. The Latvian low-cost carrier Air Baltic operates a decent European network as well. There is also a ferry link to Stockholm operated by Tallink at reasonable prices.
Train and bus are also options. Latvian Railways offers service to a few cities in Russia, Estonia and Belarus. There are daily overnight trains to St. Petersburg or Moscow and also trains to Tallinn and Tartu in Estonia quite frequently.
Latvia is well connected by bus. Busses arrive from many different cities, but most frequently from Estonia and Lithuania.
Anything I need to know about Latvian customs and passport control?
As Latvia is a member of the European Union and Schengen, the same rules apply as for most countries in Europe. This makes the process quite easy for most visitors to Latvia. Some nationalities that do not require a Schengen visa for tourism purposes include members of the European Economic Area, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Non-EEA nationals are allowed a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period in the entire Schengen zone. Those who wish to remain in Latvia or the Schengen countries longer than this period will have to apply for a Visa.
How cold does it get in St. Petersburg and Moscow?
The St. Petersburg climate is similar to Scandinavia. In the short summer (mid-June to mid-August), temperatures can reach 30° C. The winters are generally cold and temperatures can fall below minus 20º C. The position of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland tempers the summer heat a little, and in autumn and winter produces a cool breeze. Moscow’s climate is continental: cold in winter and hot in summer.
What is the weather like in Riga?
The weather in Riga is similar to Stockholm, probably a bit milder as the Riga bay protects the city from the open Baltic Sea. The coldest months are January and February, with an average temperature of −5 °C (23 °F) and the possibility of lower temperatures throughout the year. In summer, Riga is warm and humid, averaging 18 °C (64 °F).
In which time zone will I live?
Moscow and St. Petersburg, both in the Moscow Time Zone, are CET + one hour in summer and CET + two hours in winter as Russia recently abolished summer time.
Latvia shares the same time zone as Finland (CET + one hour). In Summer, it is like everywhere else in the EU.
Do my electrical plugs work?
The standard voltage is Russia and Latvia is 220 volts. Unearthed Western European plugs with two narrow pins fit local sockets. An adapter is required for Swiss three-point plugs and German earth contact plugs.
Is there anything special I should bring?
The choice in the shops is now similar to what you have at home so just pack your luggage as if you were coming to any other European country.
Slippers: Both in Russia and Latvia people always take their shoes off at home and wear slippers instead. Small gifts for your host: some souvenirs from your home country, like chocolate etc., are always appreciated. Electrical adapters: Russian sockets take two thin pins (European jacks).
Will I be picked up at the airport, railway or bus station?
We offer transportation from the airport or railway/bus station for free if you book your accommodation via the school. Upon arrival our students are met by a school representative carrying a “Liden & Denz” sign and taken straight to their host family or other point of destination. In the unlucky event that there is nobody at an airport or train station to meet a student, he/she should immediately call the school using our emergency numbers. There is always somebody on duty in all our centres, who will immediately send for a car or/and a member of staff to pick him or her up.
How much money should I bring with me?
For your lunch you may need the equivalent of €5 to €10. The excursions organised by the school cost between €7 and €35 (full-day trips). Your personal expenses will range from €50 (going out once a week, no shopping, no souvenirs) to €250 per week. Please do not bring a lot of cash with you. There are plenty of ATMs around.
Can I get around by bike?
In Riga a clear yes, in St.Petersburg and Moscow you should be more careful. There are no bicycle lanes and Russian car drivers are not very polite, to put it nicely.
How do you select your host families?
We operate a system of transparent selection criteria in terms of geographical location, cleanliness, room size, bathroom, etc. Our accommodation officer then visits the family and fills out a check-list. We interview the family members and inspect the apartment (with yearly re-inspections). While all our families live in clean and cosy apartments, the common areas (staircase, lift and yard) of most of the buildings are usually in need of repair, especially in Russia (less so in Latvia). The maximum travel time from home to school and vice versa is 50 mins for St. Petersburg and Riga and 70 mins for Moscow.
Can I get accommodation in the historic city centre?
If you book early, especially for summer courses, we will try to take your wishes into account as much as possible. Living in the centre is certainly convenient. On the other hand, many central buildings (in Russia) have not been renovated in years. Staircases and yards look worse in the centre than in the much greener residential areas, where the quality of air is also generally better.
What do I get to eat?
You should be prepared to eat everyday local cuisine. It contains little you are not already familiar with, but be aware that Russians eat potatoes, beetroot, and cabbage in rather large quantities but, as a rule, have very little green salad or different fruits, as these are expensive, especially in winter and spring.
Latvians love eating vegetables, fruit, meat, and bread.
Ask what time the family eats and try not to be late. Tell your host what you like and what you don’t like. Let your host know if you are planning to eat out.
Is it possible to arrange my own dinner?
Yes, you can book your host family with breakfast only. But please inform us if you plan to cook at homestay when submitting your reservation. Many students prefer to dine out and hosts ask us to communicate this matter when making assignments.
Can I drink tap water?
Unfortunately the tap water in St. Petersburg and Moscow is not drinkable. Please drink only boiled or bottled water bought from a store. You may brush your teeth with tap water. In Riga it is ok to drink tap water.
Who washes my clothes?
Your host family may be willing to do your washing and ironing, provided they have a washing machine, for an extra fee. Alternatively, you can take your laundry to one of the many launderettes/dry cleaning services in the city. Our secretariat will be happy to provide more information. All our shared flats are furnished with a washing machine, so you can do your washing yourselves.
Can I make phone calls from home?
Local calls are free and therefore unproblematic. For your international calls, please use IP calling cards or the internet.
Is there Internet available in my host-family or shared flat?
Generally yes, but you can also purchase local USB modem sticks, which offer you cheap access to the internet everywhere you are, provided you bring your laptop with you.
Can I change my host family?
You should accept your host for the whole time of your stay. If you have serious reasons to ask for a change of host family, the accommodation manager will try to find another family for you as soon as possible. Please understand that you can only change your family at the weekend.
When do the shops open?
No general rules exist, or at least none are followed, except for alcohol which cannot be bought after 10 PM. Most shops and businesses open from 10 am and close in the late evening. Many food shops and restaurants are open 24 hours. Many shops also open on Sunday.
Where can I change money in Russia?
There are ATM’s everywhere so there not really a need to change cash money. However, Euro and US dollars can be exchanged in most banks and exchange offices. Banknotes should be as new as possible and in good condition, as notes that are worn, torn, have been written on or are otherwise marked are not accepted. Students should be aware that they will not be able to change any money without a passport (or a passport copy stamped in the Department of Visas and Registrations) in most currency exchange offices. Please note that despite inflationary tendencies the only accepted form of payment in Russia is the Rouble (RUB).
Where do I change money in Riga?
Nowhere if you carry Euros with you: from January 2014, the Euro replaced the Latvian currency Lat. Like most countries in Europe, ATMs are common and the best way to get cash. There are also banks, which will exchange currency.
Is it safe to travel to Russia?
Although crime has become a problem in post-Soviet Russia, foreigners in Moscow and St. Petersburg have nothing to fear provided they behave as they would in any major European city. Common sense rules. Negative reporting about Russia is often wildly exaggerated. And when complaining, as many Russians do, about the growth in crime, it is worth remembering that the Soviet Union was one of the safest countries in the world and crime has risen from a very low level. Below are some basis safety tips. Out and about: Only carry with you what you need for the day or evening, i.e. enough cash, and credit cards only if you plan to use them. Otherwise, leave them at home. In Moscow you should always carry your passport with you. In St. Petersburg, a copy will do. Pickpockets: Keep a close eye on your possessions at all times and especially in restaurants and cafés. Telephone number for emergency (police, fire, medical): 112.
Is Riga safe?
Like any large European city, petty crime does happen, but not much worse than elsewhere. Avoid going in bad areas alone and keep your belongings close. Watch out for pickpockets and be careful of bar scams. Be sure to find out the price of things in bars and restaurants before you order and be skeptical of people who strike up conversation out of the blue.
Can I buy a local SIM card?
It’s a good idea, to avoid high roaming charges. Prepaid sim-cards are on open sale in numerous kiosks in any of our destinations.
Why are bridges raised every night in St. Petersburg?
To allow passage for cargo boats on their way to Moscow or the Volga region. From the beginning of May until mid-November, all bridges over the Neva are raised from about 1.30am until 5am.
Can I walk alone at night?
We don’t recommend it. Take a taxi!
Can I approach police if I am lost?
If you speak Russian, yes. Latvian police can speak at least 3 languages – Latvian, Russian and English, but in Russia you may meet an officer without any foreign language skills.
Does Vodka in the evening guarantee a hangover next day?
No, as long as you don’t mix it with other alcoholic drinks. Never ever drink beer after vodka!
On Internship & Volunteering
What does it cost?
The placement fee is EUR 250 if combined with a Russian language course (minimum 4 weeks group or 2 weeks one-to-one) and EUR 400 if no language course is booked.
Internships at Liden & Denz are free of charge.
Do I get paid?
For legal reasons, work experience assignments in Russia are unpaid. Students need also to be aware that accommodation and insurances must be covered by themselves.
Where do I live?
Liden & Denz offers inexpensive rooms on a shared-flat basis (shared with other Liden & Denz students) but work experience students are under no obligation to book their accommodation with us.
How good does my Russian need to be?
Work experience students need a sufficient level of Russian in order to qualify for one of the places on offer. The entry level (language competence on arrival) should be at least A2. Language requirements differ from host to host.
How long does an assignment last?
Again, this depends on the host company, but in general internships and volunteering last between one and six months.
What is the minimum age?
A minimum age of 21 years old is required for internships and 18 for volunteer work. However some host organisations do require a higher age. Maximum Age 30 y.o.
Change of programme
Once the work placement has been confirmed according to the requirements and profile of the participant and of the host Company/Organisation, no programme changes can be made.