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Jayhawks on the Steppe: Russian Language Institute in Kazakhstan

Jayhawks on the Steppe: Russian Language Institute in Kazakhstan
Study intensive Russian language and post-Soviet culture in the heart of Eurasia.
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Slavic Languages & Literatures
Program Type: 
Summer Non-Faculty Led
Fulfills KU Core 4.2
  • Study Russian language at a modern university in the capital of Kazakhstan.
  • Earn KU credit for two semesters of Russian langauge study.
  • Take part in cultural activities and excursions including a weekend trip to Burabay National Park, traditional nomadic hunting with eagles, museum visits, and ballet and opera performances.
  • This program is not being offered in Summer 2022. Contact Jenna in KU Study Abroad for information about program options.
Program Summary: 

This program provides an excellent opportunity for Russian language students at any level (including students with no previous Russian language experience) to live and study in Central Asia. A safe and comfortable campus environment, tutoring program, lecture series, and organized cultural activities are just some of the program features that make this an ideal opportunity for any student to study Russian in a supportive environment. 

The program is offered in partnership with the Nazarbayev University Summer School in Russian and Eurasian Studies (SSRES). Whether you are looking to enhance your Russian language fluency or have a budding interest in the language, this program supports learners at all levels.


Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) is the capital of Kazakhstan and a modern city of approximately one million in the northern part of the country. This vibrant city boasts one of the most highly developed infrastructures and economies in Central Asia. 

Nazarbayev University (NU) is a highly selective English-language university with approximately 4,000 students.  NU was established in 2010 and is well-known for its program in Eurasian studies. NU offers a safe and comfortable campus environment with access to many amenities such as fitness facilities, clinic, pharmacy, restaurants, beauty salon, grocery store, and more.

Academic Information: 

Courses Offered

Students will receive credit for two of the following KU courses based on their Russian language proficiency at the start of the program:   

  • RUSS 104: Elementary Russian I (5 credits)
  • RUSS 108: Elementary Russian II (5 credits)
  • RUSS 204: Intermediate Russian I (5 credits)
  • RUSS 208: Intermediate Russian II (5 credits)
  • RUSS 504: Advanced Russian I (3 credits)
  • RUSS 508: Advanced Russian II (3 credits)

Students also have the option of enrolling in one English language elective course (additional fee applies).  Consult the host university’s website for up-to-date information on available electives. Contact the KU Program Coordinator for information about the KU credit for these electives. Students currently at an advanced level of Russian should consult the KU Program Coordinator about program credit.

The program includes a free crash course in practical Kazakh language as well as a Eurasian Studies Lecture Series consisting of a dynamic set of lectures (conducted in English) intended to deepen understanding of Eurasian history, culture, and contemporary affairs. For additional support and conversational practice, students have access to language instructor office hours and student tutors.


Students will live in student dormitories on the modern and well-maintained campus of Nazarbayev University (NU).  A typical arrangement includes a double room plus bathroom.  The NU campus offers many amenities and access to basic services such as laundry, health and pharmacy services, and more.  All program participants will receive a gym pass and can access campus fitness facilities for free.

A meal plan with two meals per day Monday-Friday is included in the program fee.  Students have access to a fully-equipped kitchen and grocery store in the student dormitory.  The campus also offers several convenient and reasonably-priced restaurants and cafes.

Life Abroad: 

2020 Dates

  • May 21: Depart for Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
  • May 23: Arrive in Kazakhstan, proficiency testing, course placement
  • May 24: Orientation and start of cultural program
  • May 25: Classes start
  • July 2-6: Mid-Summer break
  • July 17: Last day of classes
  • July 19-21: Final exams
  • July 22: Program ends

Cultural Program

Weekly excursions in and around Nur-Sultan are included in the program fee.  Planned activities include:

  • Nur-Sultan city tour
  • Traditional Berkutchi nomadic hunting with eagles
  • Weekend trip to Karaganda and KARLAG tour
  • Nur-Sultan Day national holiday festivities
  • ALZHIR Memorial Museum
  • Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve
  • Horseback riding
  • Weekend trip to Burabay National Park
  • Perforamnces at the Astana Ballet and Astana Opera

Open to students of all majors from any accredited U.S. college or university with a minimum 2.5 GPA.  No prior language experience is necessary. 

Program Faculty: 

Ani Kokobobo, Associate Professor, University of Kansas
Ani Kokobobo (PhD, 2011, Columbia University) is associate professor and chair of the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at KU. Kokobobo specializes in nineteenth-century Russian literature and teaches multiple upper-level undergraduate literature and culture courses for KU's Slavic program. Kokobobo has taught at KU since 2011. Dr. Kokobobo oversees the program and will be on-site with students for the first two week of the program.

Additional program support is provided by Nazarbayev University faculty and language instructors.  


Summer 2022 programs now accepting applications !

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