It is summer and thoughts turn naturally to travel. One good way to keep costs down on a trip abroad is to study while you are there. The courses usually include low-cost lodging in a dorm, with a family in a homestay or in an apartment that is usually shared with other students.
I've done that on a number of occasions, most recently in Berlin last summer at the Goethe Institut and the year before that at the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia. If you study a language, and these are the programs that are most widely available, it can be very helpful for your subsequent travels.
I've been checking out Russian language courses on the internet, since I want to go back to Russia but it is very expensive. I found what seems to be a good deal in Moscow, studying at Moscow State. This is the university that is located in the hills that were first Sparrow, then Lenin and I believe are back to Sparrow again, south of and overlooking the city. The main building is one of Stalin's picturesque gothic skyscrapers. The company whose web site is www.ruslanguage.ru offers group classes with accommodation in university dorms for three weeks for 560 euros, a very reasonable price in one of Europe's most exepnsive cities. In fact some accounts consider that Moscow is now the most expensive city in the world.
It is also possible to study Russian in other cities, including St. Petersburg. A program there offers classes in what used to be the Smolny Institute, the beautiful blue and gold consturction of Italina architect Rastrelli. Russia is a country where knowledge of the language is especially important, since not many Russians seem to speak English. I know only a few words, and have always found this a handicap in my travels there.
I haven't book anything yet, but wanted to let you know about what seem to be good deals. The Goethe Institute is more expensive, but is also a relatively good deal if you want to spend some time in a German city and learn something about the language and culture.