Health and Safety

General Health & Insurance Information

Health issues are generally the same in Russia as they are in the U.S. Adapting to a new climate, food, water, and way of life may affect one's health during the first few weeks, but usually has no lasting effects.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control maintains updated information about health concerns abroad, including Russia ( If you plan to travel to Russia, it is advisable to make sure that your inoculations against diphtheria, polio, and tetanus are up to date. Inoculations against hepatitis A and B are also advisable but not required. It is important to keep in mind that Russia has a high STD infection rate, including HIV/AIDS.

Health Insurance is included in the program cost.  All students participating in the Bard-Smolny Program are required to be enrolled in the travel health insurance plan written for Bard College for use on study abroad programs.  Once enrolled, students may elect to extend the coverage to include personal international travel that occurs after the program end date.  The student bears the cost of any extension of coverage after the program end date. 

Most health care providers abroad require payment at the time of service and do not have direct billing relationships with US insurance companies. Therefore, students will pay for treatment and submit receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement. 

U.S. prescriptions cannot be filled at a Russian pharmacy. It is best to bring a supply of prescription drugs that will suffice for your entire stay. Be sure to bring a copy of your prescription with you in case customs authorities ask you for it.

Russian pharmacies are well stocked with over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medicine, vitamins, and anything else students may need. You should be able to fill your entire cosmetic and toiletry needs in Russian drug stores and "parfumerias," unless you are attached to a specific American brand.

Psychiatric care in English is available in St. Petersburg at both the Euromed Clinic and the American Medical Center. If students so desire, they may schedule private consulations with a Smolny psychotherapist who is a professor of psychology at St. Petersburg State University, and who has worked with foreign students for many years at her private practice.

Safety and Security

St. Petersburg is generally a safe place, with crime levels similar to large cities in the United States. Petty crime is by far the most widespread form of criminal activity and can be dealt with by using everyday street smarts. Students should keep their wallets or purses in secure locations and be aware of their bags and pockets, and they are advised not to carry large sums of money unless absolutely necessary.

If students ever find themselves in immediate danger, our program staff is on call 24 hours a day. Our program orientations feature extensive units on safety in St. Petersburg, and the student handbook is an invaluable source of information for those who are concered about their security abroad. All Smolny students are supplied with a compass, whistle, and city map upon arrival to St. Petersburg.

We encourage students to review the information on safety and security in Russia available from the U.S. State Department by clicking here.