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.
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.