Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek

Program Snapshot
Semester: Fall, Spring, or Full Year
Offered: Annually
Estimated Dates: Fall: late August to mid-December, Spring: early February to late May
Program Focus: Language Intensive
Prerequisites: Successful completion of RUS 202. Minimum of 2.5 GPA. Students must satisfy the Words and Numbers CORE requirement before participating in an overseas program.
Housing: Host families / student dormitory
Campus Contact: Maria Hristova Assistant Professor of Russian, 503-768-7442

Program Design

In cooperation with SRAS, Lewis & Clark offers a program of intensive language study in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The program offers Russian language, in addition to electives in geopolitics, ethnicity and identity, linguistic anthropology, and sociology. The program provides extensive travel and cultural experiences to offer local insights and a truly immersive experience.

SRAS partners with The London School in Bishkek. The London School of Languages and Cultures is a well-established private language school founded in 1998. The school has worked with the UNDP, the US Embassy, and various USAID projects. On campus, foreigners studying Russian and Central Asian languages mix with locals learning English. Centrally located, the school is surrounded by cafes, museums, shopping, theaters, churches, mosques, and more. The London School prides itself on its regional and local connections and ability to immerse students in the surrounding culture and community. They offer an extensive multi-language audio-visual library, 30+ modern classrooms, and an international staff from across Central Asia.

Central Asia is landlocked and sparsely populated. Yet, the area has been strategic for the powerful states that surround it for trade routes (such as the old and new Silk Roads) or as military buffer zones, attack routes, or supply lines (from the Mongols to the modern Middle East and Afghan conflicts). Despite diverse influences, parts of Central Asia were some of the last places on Earth to develop settled societies and even today, modern nomads and traditional lifestyles are not uncommon. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with its proud traditional culture, long history, and convenient travel routes to other Central Asian states, provides an excellent vantage point for the study of this fascinating region.

Study abroad in Bishkek means being immersed in a modern multilingual and multicultural society. It means being surrounded by incredible natural beauty.

Bishkek is a green, laid-back city. Most students are able to quickly build a support group, interacting with other international students and Russian-speaking peers at The London School. Public transportation, while crowded, can get you to the city’s attractions or outside the city to hiking trails and other outdoor activities.


Requirements Fulfilled:

General Education - This program fulfills the Global Perspectives general education requirement for students who successfully complete 8 or more semester credits.

Major/Minor Requirements: This program fulfills the overseas study requirement for the World Languages major with Russian as the primary language. Select courses may be applied to the Russian minor.

Credits: Credit earned varies based on courses completed. Students may earn up to 19 credits. Overloads are not permitted.


Sample curriculum for Fall 2022:

    • RUSS 200/300/400-level: Russian Language Study: Small, intensive classes focus on reading, writing, grammar, speaking, comprehension, and phonetics for 20 hours per week. (12 credits).
    • Elective Classes in English: (3 credits each)
      • The New Great Game: You will gain an overview of the New Great Game as a renewed struggle for hegemony and control over natural resources and geopolitical positioning in Central Asia between competing global powers, the Central Asian republics themselves, and neighboring states.
      • Understanding Central Asia: You will take a broad overview of the cultural, social, historical, and religious dimensions of Central Asia, including Afghanistan. Attention is given to the media, civil society, gender, and religious environment in these countries.
    • Elective Classes in Russian: For students who test at the intermediate language or higher level, it is possible to replace some of the above credits with any of the following Russian language electives (3 credits each):
      • Political and Economic Language
      • Literature and Film
      • Russian in the Media
      • Regional History

Excursions: This program includes nearly three weeks of travel to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and either Turkmenistan OR Tajikistan. This travel is designed to complement student coursework, showing the major sites, but also the culture and how locals live outside a major city.

Student Life

Housing: Students have the option of either staying in the homestay or moving into a dormitory.

Dorms: The London School has two dormitories. One is attached to the classroom building. The other is a 15 minute walk or short bus ride from class.

Homestays: Homestays are anywhere from a 15 to 50 minute commute from class by public transport. Most Bishkek host families include children and, at times, extended family living under one roof, giving students opportunity for language practice and cultural interactions.

Extracurricular Activities: Students are given extensive background information on each event, are encouraged to make notes or recordings, and discuss the excursions afterwards in class and with peer tutors. Excursions can include:

  • Weekend trip to a Kyrgyz village for a yurt-building ceremony
  • Walking tour of the city
  • Ata-Beiit Memorial to the Stalinist purges
  • Burana Tower (ruins of the medieval Karakhanid city of Balasagun)
  • Manas Ordo (memorial park to Manas, a Kyrgyz national hero)
  • Master classes (traditional crafts and/or cooking)
  • Seminars in understanding Central Asia (various locations and topics)
  • Ala-Archa National Park; Museum of Fine Arts
  • Historical Museum (ancient to modern local history)
  • Barskoon Waterfall


2024-2025 Fee Breakdown*

Total Fee (includes Tuition, Program Fee, and Health & Wellness Fee): $40,962

Tuition: $32,197

Program Fee: $8,728

Health & Wellness Fee: $37**

Included in the program fee are room/housing, board/meals, and administrative fees. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals. *Fees are updated every February for the following academic year.

**The Health & Wellness Fee supports the operations of Wellness Services staff in delivering pre-program orientation services, as well as in providing health-related consultation regarding participant health needs. All students in the College of Arts and Sciences pay a mandatory fee of $37 per semester.

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.

Estimated Airfare (Round Trip PDX to FRU): $1,500-$2,000

Estimated Travel Document Fees: $160 - $190

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,906

All students participating in overseas programs are automatically enrolled in iNext, a supplemental travel insurance program. The fee for iNext is covered in the program cost. However, students are also required to have comprehensive health insurance during their time abroad. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in overseas programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding health insurance & overseas programs.

Program Preparation

Application Process: Student must first submit a Lewis & Clark Application. Once admitted by Lewis & Clark, the students will receive instructions for submitting their pre-departure materials to SRAS.

For more information about the application process, click here.

Travel: Students usually fly into the Bishkek airport (FRU), where they are met by local staff and transported to orientation.

Visa: Students will be required to apply for a visa in order to participate in this program. More information will be provided upon admission to the program.

Country-Specific Health Information: Click here to view specific health information for people traveling to Kyrgyzstan.

State Department Country Information: Click here to visit the State Department’s Kyrgyzstan page.