The College of St. Scholastica, the only private college in northeastern Minnesota, has sponsored study abroad programs for many years. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the intensive Russian language program held at Petrozavodsk State University in Petrozavodsk, Duluth's sister city in Russia. The program is co-sponsored by St. Martin's University in Lacey, Washington.
Petrozavodsk State University has a strong foreign language program with instructors specially trained in foreign language education. In addition to academic work, they organize numerous outings and field trips.
Students in this program have a homestay with students from Petrozavodsk State University, so they have considerable opportunity to meet and interact with Russian students who are eager to make friends with their American counterparts. Indeed, contact with Russian speakers outside the classroom plays as important a role in language training as formal coursework. American students are encouraged to spend most of their time with Russian speakers - not with other Americans.
Petrozavodsk, some 240 miles northeast of St. Petersburg, is the capital of the Karelian Republic and an ideal spot for summer language study. It is located on the shore of Lake Onega at the edge of a wilderness of incomparable beauty. The people are extremely friendly and hospitable to Americans, especially to those with ties to their sister city, Duluth, Minnesota.
With a population of 280,000, Petrozavodsk is large enough to support a variety of restaurants, shops, theatres, museums and other cultural amenities to add richness to one's stay there. On the other hand, the majority of the people in Petrozavodsk speak only Russian, so students are not likely to encounter as many who want to practice English as they might in larger, more cosmopolitan cities.