Moscow vs St Petersburg: How to choose your Liden & Denz location
So you’ve made the great decision to study at Liden & Denz, but there’s still one final choice to make: which location? Although we have two amazing schools in Irkutsk and Riga, the choice often falls between Moscow and St Petersburg. Having just completed two weeks back-to-back in both schools, I’ve gathered some info that might help you make the right decision for you.
The living Costs
Moscow is undeniably a more expensive city. Average stolovaya costs are about 100 roubles more in Moscow than St Petersburg, and a single metro ticket is 60 rubles in both cities from January 2021. However, Liden & Denz accommodation is a comparable price in both cities, and you shouldn’t be put off by Moscow being slightly pricier, as many things, such as coffee, are a similar price in both cities.
Moscow is far larger than St Petersburg, with 12 million residents as opposed to the latter’s 5 million. Moscow claims an area of 2511km squared, whereas St Petersburg is a more modest 1439km squared. Everything feels bigger in Moscow, be it roads, parks etc- there’s just more space.
The pace of Life
St Petersburg life tends to be calmer and slower than that in Moscow. Reflecting the canals and coast, St Petersburg has a magical, yet calm, flowing atmosphere. In contrast, Moscow is more fast-paced and modern, with bigger buildings, more noise, and more people. If you’re looking for a relaxed pace, go for St Petersburg, but if you’re looking for excitement, Moscow is for you.
Distances are judged slightly differently in the two cities. Although both cities have beautiful metros, it is far more realistic to walk or take a bus from A-B in St Petersburg. In Moscow, an hour’s metro commute in the morning is not uncommon. Having said that, both cities have fantastic, and affordable, public transport, so commuting is not at all unpleasant. You won’t be able to avoid using the metro in Moscow, whereas the St Petersburg city centre is very walkable.
The St Petersburg campus is larger and more modern than Moscow’s, with space for 185 students as opposed to Moscow’s 60. St Petersburg has a large social area, table tennis, and a café where you can purchase snacks and beverages. In Moscow, there is a smaller common area with a fridge and microwave, and the coffee is bottomless and free. Moscow’s campus is a 40-minute walk from Red Square, and St Petersburg’s is 30 minutes from the Winter Palace. Both have screens in each classroom, and computers that students can use.
The classes and teachers
Timetabling is slightly different in both schools. In St Petersburg, there are two 1h40 classes, with one 20-minute break in between. In Moscow, classes are split into 50-minute periods with three ten-minute breaks. In both locations, classes start at 10:00, and finish between 13:40 and 14:00. Teachers in both locations are well-trained and fun to learn with, and teaching quality does not differ between the two schools. Think more about whether you learn better in two intense periods with a bigger break, or in shorter bursts.
The social element
Classes are open and friendly, so it’s not hard to make friends in either location. St Petersburg has a large sofa area for relaxing, which does make socialising between classes slightly easier. However, students in both locations are chatty and friendly.
Both schools offer after-school activities, but in differing quantities and styles. St Petersburg usually has more frequent activities in-house, such as Russian cursive workshops and matryoshka painting, and trips to other cities and the theatre. In Moscow, you have the unique opportunity to visit a shooting range and a declassified Soviet bunker, but there are fewer activities overall due to the size of the school.
If you’re headed to St Petersburg, button up! The Venice of the North is notorious for its bad weather, with the damp in winter creeping into your bones, and the summers rarely reaching above 25 degrees c. Moscow is far dryer, with warmer summers and crisper winters. Remember, in winter, St Petersburg has fewer daylight hours than Moscow, which can get you down in the colder months.
The Overall Judgement
Without a doubt, Moscow is the city I’m meant to be in. I love the pace of the city, the buildings, the contrast between architecture from different centuries, and all of the opportunities and events. Although neither city can be called ‘genuinely’ Russian in feel (for that, try Irkutsk), St Petersburg is to me a European city, and I found living in Moscow to be the authentic study abroad experience I was looking for. However, countless people I’ve spoken with will say the complete opposite. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice, but hopefully this article has helped you make your final decision!