People keep asking me: why Vladimir? Why am I here? Why did I choose to come to Vladimir when I could have chosen to study in St. Petersburg or Moscow? What do I do here?
When other students ask me, their tone often implies that there must be nothing to do in Vladimir.
Vladimir is a bustling small city with a number of factories, a university, many museums, and a thriving tourist industry (especially in the summer). With several hundred thousand people, Vladimir is many times larger than my hometown. On any given day or night of the week there are many events taking place – symphonies, art exhibit openings, lectures, etc. – and I have never had a hard time finding something interesting to do.
Here is my top ten list as an answer to the question: why choose to live in Vladimir?
Close to Moscow – Vladimir is only an hour and forty minutes by train from Moscow. It is easy to take a day trip or a weekend trip to Moscow, and so pleasant to return to your quiet apartment in Vladimir for a good night’s sleep.
History, history, history! Vladimir is an old, old city, and there are many old churches, monasteries, and other famous sites to prove it. It is situated in the “Golden Ring” of historic towns, which merits a day trip during most people’s vacations to Russia, so why not live here for a summer, a semester, or a year?
Beautiful City – from picturesque cupolas in the skyline to the Klyazma River meandering in the distance, Vladimir is beautiful in the summer and in the winter.
Affordability – In my experience, eating at a restaurant in Vladimir often costs half the price (or less) than eating out in Moscow. Bus fares are also half the price or less than in Moscow or Petersburg. You can save the money for more weekend traveling, more eating out, or more souvenirs!
Walkability and Transportation – Vladimir is a compact city, and maybe that is why many people who have been here on a day trip consider it a “small town.” You can easily walk all over the center of town, and you can also walk to the “suburbs” if you so choose. And when you choose not to walk, the buses come often and are an efficient way to get to and from the center of town.
Friendly People – People hear my accent and they immediately are curious about where I am from, why I chose to come to Vladimir (even Russians are interested to find out why I would come to Vladimir), and what interests me in Russia. If you can get past the nervousness of talking with strangers in a foreign language, it is easy to make new friends in Vladimir.
Speak more Russian – unlike in Moscow or Petersburg, most people do not know English in Vladimir, and for that reason you will get much more practice trying to explain yourself in Russian, and, as a result, your Russian will improve a lot!!!
The KORA Center – The KORA Center is a great place to study, because all of the teachers have been teaching for many years and have a lot of experience working with foreign students. They are patient, persistent, and eager to help you outside of class as well.
The music scene – Because Vladimir is so close to Moscow and en route to other cities, such as Nizhny Novgorod, many bands and musical groups make stops in Vladimir. Ticket prices in Vladimir are also much better than in Moscow, Petersburg, or even Nizhny Novgorod. Every week there are concerts by famous orchestras, rock bands, and pop music stars. There is also a thriving local music scene of cover bands, with live music somewhere every night of the week.
Connecting with your Community – Due to all of the above reasons, especially the friendly people, compactness of the city, and the music scene, it is easy to connect with your community in Vladimir and make Vladimir your home. You quickly get to know the people working at cafes and stores you frequent, the people at your gym or in your dance classes, and people you meet through friends of friends connected with KORA. Vladimir is a welcoming city and people who live in Vladimir are proud of their city and excited to share it with you. After spending six months here, it really does feel like home.
Other fun activities to do in Vladimir depending on the season: cross-country skiing or hiking in Zagoradni Park, swimming in the river or the pool, attending free film screenings at the university film club, watching free movies at Vladimir’s free movie theatre, and dancing at the free dance classes in the central park in the summer.