If you're thinking about volunteering abroad in Russia and you're a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or any other religion, thoughts of what it would be like may have entered your mind. Is it scary? Is it safe? If those questions have popped into your head, you're in the right spot.
Keep in mind, safety for all ILP volunteers is our biggest priority. We know living abroad for a semester brings up a lot of unknowns because it's such a new experience.
You're never alone when you're volunteering with ILP
Learn more about how our semester abroad program works
ILP supports many volunteers around the world who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and many spend their semester in Russia! Here are the most common questions and concerns we get:
- Are there churches I can attend?
- Will they like me?
- Will my host family be okay with me being LDS?
- Is it different than being LDS in the states?
Are there churches I can attend in Russia?
Yes! Living in Russia gives many great opportunities for LDS volunteers. There will be branches/wards close enough for you to attend every Sunday. Church is a great place to make new locals friends and give you a little community to depend on.
In Moscow there's an international branch you can attend and they hold the meetings in English. You can also attend a Russian speaking branch as well if you'd like that experience (we highly recommend it).
Currently there are not any temples in use for the Latter-Day Saint faith in Russia (but plans for one was announced in the April 2018 conference). Members in Russia travel to nearby countries to visit the temple and you can, too! Volunteers have plenty of vacation time to travel to nearby countries and you can visit other temples in Europe like Ukraine, Finland, or Sweden.
Will they like me?
It's Russian culture to be very reserved in public, so they tend to get a reputation for being not so approachable. Many Russians (especially older generations) tend to keep to themselves, so it may seem like they don't like you when you first get there. They probably won't smile at you on the street or strike up a conversation on the bus, but just understand that that's totally normal.
The truth is that Russians are incredibly loving. You'll meet many locals as you get involved with your ward and they have been welcoming our ILP volunteers in since our program first began in 1992. Church is an excellent place to meet more local friends.
Will my host family be a member of The Church?
In Russia, ILP volunteers live with host families. It's a great way to really experience the culture and get the total Russian experience. Each family is different and more often than not they are not members of the Latter Day Saint church.
But don't let that worry you. They are as interested in getting to know you as you are in getting to know them. They will respect you if you respect them (just like with any aspect of living with someone new). There will be many differences (you're from two different sides of the world after all!) and that is all part of the fun of getting to know each other.
However if you feel uncomfortable with your host family for any reason, please let ILP know. We have arranged new housing for volunteers in the past when there are unforeseen problems.
Is church in Russia different than it is in America?
At times yes. You're in a foreign country, so different is what you should expect. It may be a bit strange to be the minority, to attend a branch that doesn't speak English, or to live with a non-member family. This is all part of the experience! But you know how you always hear people say, "The gospel is the same, no matter where you are." We have a feeling you'll be saying the same thing after attending the branches we love in Russia.
Interested in joining other LDS volunteers in Russia?
We have a guide all about volunteering in Russia for you — It gives you a good overview about what to expect on a semester abroad here, everything from host families, what a typical day looks like to buying souvenirs (and vacation spots).
Are you ready to send in your application for a semester abroad with International Language Programs? Click below to get started!