Any medications you need.
An adequate amount of clothing. You don't need to bring your closet with you though. Also, go light on clothes. Washing them isn't always easy here. Be sure to bring some comfortable and durable shoes. If you will be in Russia during the winter months, warm clothing is a must. The region doesn't start to warm up until late April and May. Usually, winter begins to set in in mid-November, during the most severe winter months it will be very cold — with typical daytime highs of —10 to —20 degrees Celsius. A warm overcoat, hat, gloves, and boots are essential. Long underwear is a lifesaver. In the summer months, the temperature may get as high as 35 to 40 degrees Celsius, but the average temperatures are closer to 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. The nights and early mornings can be cool, with rain falling often in the morning hours. T-shirts, light sweaters, jackets, perhaps a sports coat or dress for big meetings and internship work, jeans and a pair of light boots for when it rains.
Useful items: a jackknife, tissue packs, small flashlight, extra batteries, small calculator (if you're not good at mental arithmetic), mosquito repellent (in the summer we will be going on picnics, and the mosquitoes here are fierce and prolific).
A small photo album with pictures of your family, friends, pets, neighborhood, etc. Photos of your home, college, family, etc., are good conversational items with your host families.
A decent Russian-your-native-language dictionary. School supplies may also be hard to come by. Beginners will want to bring a phrase book and pocket dictionary.
Photocopies of your passport, visa, plane tickets, and credit cards. Keep them separate from the originals.
You might want to bring lots of little gifts for friends and host families. Russia has a very active gift-giving culture. Take part! Picture books, cool T-shirts, popular Western novels (for English speakers), playing cards, gourmet coffee packs, pictures, frisbees, CDs, and anything else that you can think of. Gifts that have some personal expression, such as a picture book of your state or a baseball cap of your favorite team, always go over really well. The best gifts are those which represent your university, city, state, interests or family. Shot glasses, T-shirts, etc., with college emblems or names are good, as well as items with your country's flag.
Bring some books for yourself if you are an avid reader and could use a language break now and then AND bring a pocket dictionary.
Definitely get a money belt or one of those neck pouches for passports, credit cards, and money.
Speaking of traveling, it might be a good idea to invest in a decent and the most recent travel guide.
A compact umbrella.
Bring cash in hard currency, if you bring US dollars, do so in large bills (20s, 50s, 100s). Your bills should be as new and crisp as possible, not written or stamped on, not printed before 1991, with no rips or missing corners. Defaced or faded bills are routinely rejected - even by large banks and the U.S. Embassy. If you bring $100s, make sure they are the new kind.
The ruble rules for all commercial transactions in Russia. You can exchange your hard currency for rubles at Currency Exchanges.
Bring your passport, visa, or other photo ID, as it may be required. The actual rate fluctuates from day to day and from bank to bank, so you may want to shop around for the best rate before changing large bills. You can exchange part of a large bill if you would like. In terms of how much to bring, opinions vary. It obviously depends on how long you will be staying, and upon your spending habits.
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