Samara, formerly known as Kubeshev, is located on the banks of the Volga River in the southeastern part of European Russia, about 250km from the border of Kazakistan.
Samara has a population of about 1.8 million people.
Samara is quite far south, and its climate verges on the temperate - but it's not quite there! Winters generally begin in earnest in November, with a lot of snow and temperatures generally averaging between 0 and -15 Celsius. January cold snaps can occasionally hit -20 or -25, though it's fairly rare to have colder temperatures.
The thaw usually begins in late March or early April, and spring and summers are surprisingly hot and humid. In July, temperatures of around 20 or 25 are usual, even occasionally reaching 30 or more. Mosquitoes are a problem during summer months, but many kinds of repellants are available locally.
Autumns tend to be damp, chilly and gray, though are often livened by an «Indian Summer» in October or late September.
Getting to Samara
If you arrive by plane, you will be arriving at the regional Koromich airport, located 40 minutes from Samara. There are daily flights to Moscow -- the flight time is about one hour.
The train ride to Samara from Moscow takes about 13 hours, but is quite comfortable and is a great way to see some of the country and meet some of its citizens. You will arrive at Samara's huge and modern new train station near the center.
Arriving in Samara
However you arrive, you will be met by a representative of the school and driven to your accommodation. Avoid the offers of a taxi!
All teachers currently have flats of their own, but due to rapidly-rising costs of rental apartments, teachers might share a flat with another teacher. You will have a room of your own and share a kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Language Link will pay for local telephone calls up to a ceiling of 169 rubles and electricity bills up to 100 kilowatts.
Rates for international calls vary — direct-dialed calls can be pricey, but there are some different «card» calling plans that are not at all expensive.
The school has a computer with Internet and teachers are permitted to use it as much and whenever they wish (within reason!). There are also several Internet Cafes in the city, such as Visit near the Babylon Shopping Center on Samara Ulitza. If you wish to bring a notebook computer and have Internet installed in your home, typical rates for connection are about 50 cents an hour through servers such as Pragma and ROL. There is also a branch of the British Council with Internet services, (as well as an extensive library of ESL resources, textbooks and videos).
Mobile phone providers in Samara include Beeline, Smarts and Megafon, all of which offer GSM services. Rates vary, usually from 2 to 5 rubles (about 6 to 30 cents) a minute. Services are quite reliable.
|Directory Inquiries||005 or 09|
|Language Link Office||(8462) 17 98 22|
|British Council||(8462) 78 41 85|
Electricity is 220 volts/50 hz. Plugs are of the two-pin type (as in continental Europe) so you will need adapters if you are bringing electrical appliances from home. These are available in Samara, but you might want to bring some with you. Electricity is reliable and power cuts are extremely rare. A torch (flashlight) might be advisable, as some streets are not well lit.
Many people drink water from the tap with no particular problems, but you'd probably be wise to invest in a water filter ($5 or $6). Bottled water is very widely available and is not too expensive — about $1.50 for a five-liter bottle. Hot water is reliable in the winter months, but is occasionally disconnected during the spring, summer or autumn for a few days at a time. Heating water on the stove is one solution to this problem. Occasionally the cold water will be turned off, leaving nothing but hot — when this happens, you'll have to fill your bathtub several hours before, let it cool, then add more hot water when you want to bathe. Otherwise you'll be scalded!
Laundry and Dry Cleaning
Unfortunately, you will not be provided with a washing machine. There are a number of laundry services in Samara. There is one in the Babylon Shopping Center on Ulyanovskaya Street called «Premier Point» for example, and there is another near the Pyramid Shopping Center on Novo-Sadovaya Street, not far from the school. Washing your clothes yourself in the bathtub may sound horrible, but with only a little practice you'll find it takes no longer than a trip to a laundry service and isn't really that much more effort.
Samara is a fairly spread-out city, but it isn't particularly difficult to get around, as most points of interest lie along a few main roads. There is an extensive network of buses, trolleybuses, and trams. Fare is 9 rubles (25 cents) but no transfer are permitted. There is also a good system of taxis and mini-vans which can take around ten passengers. These are much faster than regular buses, and cost 10 — 12 rubles (30 — 40 cents).
As is usual in Russia, many drivers operate as unofficial taxis. Just put your hand out, palm down, and any interested drivers will stop and ask you where you'd like to go. Prices vary according to location and time of day. A typical 10- or 15-minute ride might cost 50 rubles, 100 at night. Agreeing on a price before you get in is a good idea.
The city also has a metro with seven stations.
Food and Drink
Samara's restaurant scene is ever-growing. In addition to a number of excellent traditional Russian restaurants and cafes, there are many good Georgian, Caucasian and Uzbek restaurants. 'International' dining is becoming increasingly popular, and Samara has one of the best Mexican restaurants south of Moscow, La Cucaracha, as well as some good pizza parlors. Asian foods are well-represented, with several Chinese restaurants, a Korean cafe, and even two Japanese sushi restaurants. There are several German and Czech restaurants, including a branch of the Tinkhoff chain which offers freshly brewed beer and live music as well. Prices vary, but a very good meal with drinks can easily be had for less than $30.
There are a number of bars and cafes. The Krillova sports bar on Kubeshev Street offers televised sports, inexpensive drinks, and a good selection of American-style food. Like so many cities, Samara hosts a «Guiness Pub» but it's expensive ($4 for a Guiness). It's located near Samara Place.
During the summer, Samara's huge beautiful riverfront embankment sprouts literally hundreds of small cafes where you can sit and drink beer and watch the sun go down on the river, while trying different local foods from vendors — salted fish, barbecue, meat dumplings, lamb pilaf, and kebabs- definitely a must during the hot summer months.
And of course there's always McDonald's!
Samara's shops are now very well stocked. New shops, supermarkets and shopping centers seem to open up nearly every day now. A lot of new modern shopping malls have opened up in the last few years — one, Park House, is a five-minute walk from the school. It has a modern supermarket and stores with sporting equipment, clothes, and electronics. There are other shopping centers in the city center and near the train station. Electronic goods and clothes are perhaps a little bit more expensive than in Europe or America -- CDs, software, videos and DVD's are much cheaper.
For fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat, Samara has numerous street-corner outdoor markets selling produce fresh from people's gardens. The Government Market is a delightful experience, with cheerful vendors offering fresh fish and meat, fruits and vegetables of all descriptions, and other treats like fresh herbs and spices, caviar, and cheeses. Always ask the price BEFORE you agree to buy, however! Canned and packaged foods are about the same as in America or Europe, but fruit and vegetables are much cheaper. A kilo of bananas is a dollar and a half, and a kilogram of potatoes costs around 40 cents.
There is a market which cells CD's, DVD’s and computer software at very low prices near the bus station. This is a fun place on the weekends, with young movie and video game fans prowling the aisles for hours on end looking for hidden treasures.
Teachers should try to look presentable, but there is no strict dress code at the school.
You will need a very warm coat — down or fur — and a hat, scarf and gloves. Good boots are essential — the snow is thick and the streets can get pretty messy. You probably won't regret bringing sweaters, warm socks and long underwear. But bring along some shorts, t-shirts and sandals too for the summer months — and a swimming costume for sunbathing and swimming in the river!
Finding clothes of good quality and reasonable price is much easier in Samara than it used to be – the MegaCity shopping mall in particular has a number of good clothing shops.
Samara is generally a healthy place, as long as you take the standard precautions — be careful with meat purchased off the street, wash fruits and vegetables well, and don't drink too much vodka.
Chemists are everywhere in Samara and are very well-stocked. It's unlikely that they would not have a particular medicine, but if you have special needs you should check before you arrive or make sure to bring some with you. Medical care is widely available and of good quality — Language Link will help you find good care and pay for it if you have a problem. Dental care is also good quality and much cheaper than in Europe or America.
The people of Samara are very friendly, and foreigners are still something of a novelty here, so you can expect to be invited to someone's home. Don't forget to remove your shoes when you enter. It's traditional to bring your host chocolate or a cake. Russian meals are leisurely affairs, with many courses and often a lot of alcohol. If you don't want to drink, don't feel pressured — but make sure that you take part in the toasts in some way, even if only with a glass of juice or water.
Language Link in Samara
We strive to provide quality English language tuition and test preparation. We work in close cooperation with the local British Council, and we are the first English language school in Samara to provide native-speaker instructors.
Language Link's school and office in Samara is located in a recently-refurbished wood and brick building about twenty minutes from the city center, near a large park named after cosmonaut and first man in space Yuri Gagarin.
The school is located near Samara's main thoroughfare, Moskovski Shosse, and if thus easy to reach by bus, trolleybus, or marshootni share taxi, It's about a ten minute walk from the stop to the school, which is located near a TV center on Sovietsky Army street.
The address is 217 Sovietsky Army, Corpus 2, Samara, Russia 443011
The office telephone and fax number is +7 (8462) 17-98-22
We can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
The office is staffed from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Monday thru Friday, and on Saturdays and Sundays as necessary, usually from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The school currently has seven classrooms, all of which are modern and outfitted with cassette and CD players, whiteboards, and comfortable seating. Most of the rooms have water coolers with hot and cold water, also. There is an administrative office, a small staff room with two computers with Internet, two photocopiers, and a rather good-sized library of reference and resource books.
Language Link currently has a staff of seven people, these include both local and UK/USA nationals. For a complete list, see 'who's who'.
English Language Courses and Examinations
We offer five levels of general English instruction in classes, for adults and teenagers. We also have classes providing preparation for exams such as the TOEFL, FCE, CAE, and CPE. In addition we provide in-company classes and private instruction, both at Language Link School and in student's homes.
Things to do in Samara
Samara is a very historical city, being over 400 years old. The central downtown area, located around the newly refurbished promenade on Leningradsky Street, has a number of interesting old buildings, as well as some museums and churches. A statue of Lenin can be seen in Revolution Square in this area.
Samara is also a tremendously green city in the summer. Practically every street is lined with trees, and there are a number of fine parks, including Gagarin Park, which is located near the school, and Strookovsky Park near the river. Krasna Glinka park, about an hour away from Samara, offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking opportunities in the summer.
The area around Samara Ulitza and Artzebushevskaya is full of historic old wooden houses with beautifully carved window frames and lattice work.
Samara was slated to be the provisional capital of Russia during World War II - Stalin constructed a bunker here which is the world's deepest. Tours are available by appointment.
Two magnificent embankments stretch for miles along the Volga, providing in the summer months tree-shaded outdoor cafes, sandy beaches, and plenty of space to walk, rollerblade, listen to music, dance or swim in the river. In the winter the river freezes and you can walk right across it to the forested area on the other side — in fact there is a wilderness reserve there.
Samara was the center of Russia's Aerospace industry for many years -- it was completely closed to foreigners until 1992 -- and there is an interesting aeronautics museum at Samara Aerospace University.
Samara's historic drama theater overlooks the Volga and provides cultural opportunities, as do the Concert Hall and Opera. Ticket cost between $10 and $30, depending on the performer.
There have been a number of large rock concerts in the last couple of years. We have recently been visited by classic rockers Joe Cocker, the Scorpions, and Deep Purple, as well as by popular violinist Vanessa Mae and alternative Latin rockers Tito and Tarantula. Russian greats such as Alla Pulgachova, Tatu, and Alsu have recently appeared in Samara, also. The Tinkhoff restaurant brought modern acid jazz to Samara with The James Taylor Quartet and DePhazz recently , and continues to offer other interesting acts.
In the summer, there are occasionally free concerts in Kubesov Square, featuring popular Russian bands and occasionally Europeans acts such as Boney M and Thomas Anders.
Samara has several lively nightclubs. The ultra modern Svezda entertainment complex (Nova-Sadovya Street) has restaurants, a coffee shop, a billiards hall, bowling, a rock bar, a movie theater, video games, and an ultrahip nightclub. It costs between $10 and $20 to enter the nightclub, and a pint of beer in the billiard hall costs about $2 -$3.
Another popular nightclub is Polet, a favorite with university students, which costs between $5 and $10 to enter (half that for women) and features two dance floors with pop and disco music. A pint of beer costs about $1, and vodka is about 75 cents.
Two «rock bars», Skvozniak (in the Svezda complex) and Podval (on Galaktanovskaya Street) offer more live music, billiards, food and drinks. They both charge about $5to $10 to get in and about $3 - $5 for a pint of beer. Podval offers one-liter beer mugs, if you're tough enough!
La Cucaracha, a mexican restaurant on Galaktanovskaya near Podval, is very popular with foreigners and locals alike. Its basement offers live music and dancing until 1:00 am as well as excellent Mexican food. Entrees cost about $7 - $15 and it has imported beers in the $5 - $8 range.
Pizza Sicilia, which has several outlets (Artzebushevskaya and Leningradskaya Streets, and one near the school on Sovietsky Army) is an Italian restaurants with reasonable prices — a large pizza costs around $7 - 10. The Pizzamir restaurant on Novo-Sadovoya has even lower prices and is popular with local teenagers — there's a bar in the basement with Music videos on a big-screen TV. Beers cost between $1.50 and $3.00, and their pizzas are around $5 - $7.
During the summer hundreds of outdoor cafes open up along the river. The atmosphere at this time is a lot more like Miami Beach than Russia, with people lounging around in swimming costumes and rollerblading from cafe to cafe. There are also games, live music, and even karaoke! Bottled and draft beers cost $1.50 and up, and kebabs, barbecue, roasted chicken, lamb pilaf, and salted fish are available from vendors for $4 - $6.
There is a new entertainment complex called Kin-Up near the river, which has a nightclub and billiard hall as well as a game room and artificial climbing wall.
There are numerous swimming pools in the city, including the heated outdoor «Ska» near the river and «Neptune» in the Metallurg Stadium. There are a couple of well-equipped and modern sports clubs — «Planeta Fitness » on Sovietsky Army Street is one of the most popular.
A huge Aqua Park opened on the outskirts of Samara a few years ago, and it provides swimming, water slides, and even occasional disco parties. Entrance is around $10.
Krasna Glinka Snow Park offers snowboarding and skiing in the winter months. You can get there by shared taxi in about an hour. In the summer, Samara's embankment offers plenty of room for rollerblading, running and swimming in the river. There's a skateboard park in Skrookovsky Park near the river, and even an active community of skydivers in Samara!
Hikers will appreciate the nature reserves on the other side of the river as well as the nearby Zhiguli Hills.
Things to do ouside of the city
You can have barbecue and watch a beautiful sunset on the river at the Helicopter Landing, a beautiful cliff overlooking the Volga. During the summer, there are many boats that offer tours of various lengths along the Volga. Some of them run all the way to Moscow, others run down to the Caspian Sea. The Volga also provides opportunities for kayaking and even scuba diving, as well as a number of «tourist camps» where you can enjoy nature in a comfortable hotel setting with saunas, exercise, restaurants, etc.
In July, the Zhiguli Hills, only an hour or so by train from Samara, are the setting for the Grooshinski Festival, a 3-day festival of live music and fun in a totally naturally setting near a lake. People come from all around to play music, party, camp out, and enjoy nature.
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