7 Reasons to Consider a School Trip to Russia

Written by Enlo Wang

The impact of a school trip to Russia can have on a student is immeasurable. Beyond the fun and adventure are incredible educational and social benefits that students can experience and gain from embarking on an educational tour. When able to see, touch and smell the very subjects they have learned about in classrooms, students return with a deeper connection and passion for their studies, and understanding of people, history and culture.

From a matchless depth of intense, page-turning history and politics, to world-renowned ballet, classical music, literature, science and architecture, the largest country in the world packs more than enough to fill the curious mind. Russia, albeit extremely underrated as a travel destination, has opened up tremendously since the late Soviet times. Those who have taken the plunge to uncover the true personality of this fascinating land at first hand were spoilt abundantly by her historical, cultural and visual riches, and returned with a newfound understanding of Russia and its people, along with a wonderful treasure trove of memories that last a lifetime. Whether your student curriculum lies in modern history, science or the performing arts, a student trip to Russia offers a chance to live, breathe and experience knowledge in a way no textbooks can deliver. Here are 7 reasons why you should consider a school trip to Russia.

1. Delve into Matchless Depth of Russia’s Historical and Cultural Riches

You don’t need to be a history student to have heard a word or two about Russia’s staggering upheaval throughout history, KGB spies, political rises of world power. From the Mongol invasions to tsarist regimes to ages of industrial revolution and wars, visiting Russia brings her history off the page and into life, whichever period you may be interested in. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are teeming with key historical landmarks whose fame stems from their association with pivotal events and people in history. The nation has undergone extreme political and social change over the past few centuries, and the highlight of any trip is the chance to witness this complex history at first hand.

Russian History

Take an eye-opening trip to the infamous Moscow Kremlin, the seat of Russian political power for over 500 years, from the Grand Dukes to the Tsars to the current presidency. An insightful journey through Moscow will reveal many secrets of the Soviets and the Cold War, and its lasting impact on the Russian society and it’s people, as students come face to face with dozens of extraordinary sites and monuments marking defining Soviet-era events and achievements; from the massive VFNKh Soviet park, Victory Park, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, the Triumphal Arch, Lenin’s Tomb and Stalin’s bunker. In St. Petersburg, students will travel even deeper into history to get a feel of the incredible extremes of Russian life pre-revolution in the Museum of Political History of Russia, and the glorious excess of what is called Russia’s Versailles, Peterhof Palace. Every corner of Russia is steeped in fascinating history, offering immense educational opportunities and value via school trip to Russia to those interested in her history.

2. Experience the Timeless Beauty of the Russian Ballet

It’s equal parts history, national pride, and hero worship, the classical ballet is a world-famous, notable art form coming out of Russia that is deeply loved and cherished by its people of all social stratifications. Ballet may have been invented in Italy and France, but it was refined and invigorated in Russia by blending classicism and Russian folk dance. As the primary form of entertainment among the nobles, Russian’s mighty leaders decided to make ballet a Russian art form, and through centralized planning and the shrewd use of resources, became an integral part of the nation’s cultural heritage. Russia’s unique style of ballet has graciously stood against the test of time and made a tremendous contribution and influence on world ballet culture.  

Russian Ballet, School trip to Russia

Today, ballet schools around the world proudly boast that they teach in the Russian tradition, and Western trainees marvel at how their Russian peers manage to bend themselves into improbable positions. The Bolshoi Theatre and the Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov), known for their extremely strict, rigorous selection process of trainees, are undeniably the two most prestigious ballet companies worldwide having sourced many ballet’s greatest dancers such as Nijinsky, Pavlov, Nureyev and Baryshnikov. Class productions are performed nightly across three Mariinsky venues in St.  Petersburg, and two Bolshoi stages in Moscow. Students will have the eye-opening opportunity to see and hear the timeless beauty of the Swan Lake or the Nutcracker on the stages they were choreographed for. For those with deep interest, a private backstage tour can also be arranged in both theatres where students can interact and share their passion with local dancers. Keep in mind that both companies go on tour in the summer (August to late December) so avoid planning a visit during this period if seeing a ballet, opera or symphony is a priority for you.

3. Immerse in Chamber Concerts of Russian Classical Music

Russian Classical Music, School trip to Russia

Alongside ballet, classical music is another highly-revered artform in Russia and is part of every Russian’s Upbringing from a very young age. Ballet music composers, opera composers, and even jazz musicians have all made their mark in Russia’s history, whose timeless masterpieces had become an integral part of the cultural heritage of the whole world. Russian classical music has a distinctive history, separate from Western Europe and at the same time highly influenced by Western countries. Some of the most internationally-renowned composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich originated from St. Petersburg and Moscow, as well as from smaller towns. Classical music lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy an incredible collection of Russian musical masterpieces in the Mariinsky Theatre, Philharmonic Hall or the magnificent Hall of The Grand Duke Vladimir Palace in St Petersburg; fully immersing in the unique sound of the chamber orchestra and the spectacular atmosphere of Russian aristocracy. Whether your taste lies in the classical orchestra or opera, attending a live concert can be a life-changing experience that will surely change one’s perspective on musical performances.

4. Discover the Russian Soul through Literature

Sensitive, imaginative, compassionate, patient, strong, having ability to feel a wide array of extreme human emotions, are some characteristics used to describe the Russian Soul; a concept that has dominated the literary and philosophical discourse on Russian identity since the mid-nineteenth century. It can be defined as the cultural tendency of Russians to describe life and events from a religious and philosophical symbolic perspective. Great Russian writers such as Nikolai Gogol, Lev Tolstoy, and Fyodor Dostoevsky have used The Russian soul in literature to describe Russian spirituality. It is, as Dostoyevsky wrote in A Writer’s Diary (1876), “unspoken, unconscious, and can only be strongly felt”. For literature lovers, although reading works by the country’s greatest authors may help you paint a mental image of the Russian soul, it can only be felt and brought into the consciousness by physically being there. 

Russian Literature, School trip to Russia

Russia has always publicly celebrated and upheld its rich literary heritage. On the streets of St. Petersburg and Moscow, you’ll run into many public performances of Chekhov. Lovers of Russian literature have also the exciting opportunity to explore the homes, apartments and estates of Russia’s most famous literary figures to see where the authors worked and the views that inspired their writings; many are preserved as museums. Most notably are the homes of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Nabokov in St. Petersburg, and those of Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov in Moscow.

5. Explore Endless Collections of Russian Art

Russian Art, School trip to Russia

Russia is home to some of the largest, awe-inspiring, world-renowned collections of art. Known for a great diversity of styles, subjects and techniques, Russian art is every bit as diverse and interesting as its counterparts around the world. Religious art dominated in Russia for many centuries. Since the Byzantine era, Russian art has been as dramatic and distinguished as the country’s literature, playing a significant global role in the arts and reflecting important social and cultural changes throughout the centuries. In St. Petersburg, students can delve in endless collections of fine art stretching as far as the eye could see in The State Hermitage Museum, the world’s second-largest art museum. In Moscow, every variety of artform can be found at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Multimedia Art Museum and Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art. Whether your subject matter of choice lies in history, literature or arts, a school trip to Russia’s most iconic art museums will be sure to provide a stimulating and immersive educational experience. 

6. Meet the Pioneers of Disruptive Technology

Soviet and Russian scientists have spearheaded and participated in crucial discoveries that continue to shape physics, mathematics, chemistry, and other scientific disciplines. On the top of the list are the invention of the radio by Alexander Popov, the creation of the periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev, achievements of Russian space program lead by Sergey Korolev, deemed by many as the father of practical astronautics, and Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, the first human being to travel into space. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Russia produced many notable scientists, making important contributions in physics, astronomy, mathematics, computing, chemistry and biology. Russia inventors and engineer are at the forefront in such areas as electrical engineering, aerospace, nanotechnology, weaponry, IT, nuclear technology and space technology

Russian Science, School trip to Russia

Today, fundamental research is concentrated in the Russian Academy of Sciences, a community of the top-ranking Russian scientists and principal coordinating body for basic research in natural and social sciences, technology and production in Russia. Science lovers will have the eye-opening opportunity to explore the enormous Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences and National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg or learn about cutting edge Russian tech solutions that will shape the world’s high-tech landscape in near future at the Skolkovo Innovation Centre in Moscow. While in Moscow, students can also learn about the space race from the Russian perspective at the museum of Cosmonautics. There is no doubt the best way for students to learn about science is through exploration, discovery, problem-solving and have fun trying things out for themselves. a School trip to Russia offers innumerable learning opportunities for pupils to witness science in the past, present and future across a broad spectrum of scientific topics. 

7. See Spectacular Sacred Sites 

Religion has always played a prominent role in the public and spiritual life of Russia, which is reflected in the unique, vibrant architectural structures found in every corner of the country. Most notably are the signature onion dome rooftops in the design of Russian Orthodox churches, which have complex symbolic associations as well as technical purposes. Strolling through the city, you will find dramatic contrasts of architectural styles where impressive skyscrapers and aging orthodox churches provide a complimentary modern and traditional contrast. 

Russian Architecture, School trip to Russia

With nearly 5,000 religious associations collectively in Russia, the Orthodox Christianity accounts for over half of the total number registered and is the main religion in Russia. Other religions such as Judaism, Islam, Catholicism Tengrism and Buddhism are also very common in insignificant ethnic groups. Russians celebrate religious holidays and follow Christian traditions, and is known for its numerous customs and colourful folklore. The national culture allows one to experience a genuine relationship between the ages and generations, and offers the opportunity to receive vital spiritual support. From the haunting Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg to the grandiose St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, to the multitude of churches in the UNESCO Heritage city of Suzdal, there is no shortage of breathtaking religious architectures in Russia. Wherever your faith lies, a school trip to Russia provide students valuable learning opportunities to explore the diversity of worship and investigate differing impacts of Religious beliefs. 

As our society becomes increasingly risk-averse and litigious, we are in danger of suffocating our children in rules, regulations and cotton wool. While it is possible to learn some basic concepts in class, there is no substitute for real experience in the wider world. Educational tours to Russia provide a great opportunity for pupils to gain such experience and face a range of challenges that can contribute positively and significantly to their learning and personal development. Not only is it a major contribution to the acquisition of knowledge, but it also raises the whole area of interpersonal skill, including leadership, teamwork and trust and respect. We understand that great school trips require extensive planning and effort, and the primary focus becomes more about policy, safety, paperwork and the potential cost rather than the educational benefits. Although there are still some doubting voices, the benefits to students are so great and the risks so containable that giving in to risk aversion would be to deny our children life-changing, positive experiences and wonderful opportunities to learn. 

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About 56th Parallel

56th Parallel is a travel company specialising in providing packaged tours and travel services in Russia.

Our goal is to redefine travel to Russia, focusing on creating the most rewarding experiences, which help travellers unfolds the soul of this exciting destination.

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