Millions of Russian children returned to school this week. But dogged by a lack of textbooks and teacher shortages many students are now looking abroad to further their education.
Oversees studies are not just the preserve of the rich, middle class parents are also willing to pay the price of a top education in America or Europe.
The first day of term is always a worry for parents and children alike.
Dressed in their best, with huge bunches of flowers in hand, students flood back to school.
But many, thanks to the newly found freedom to travel abroad, choose to get their education elsewhere.
The United States, Britain and France top the list of destinations chosen by a growing number of Russian parents.
Middle class families may pay up to 8-thousand dollars a year for a child to study in the United States and lodge with an American family.
The air ticket alone costs 850 dollars - eight times the average monthly salary in Russia.
"Parents who send their children abroad enjoy a rather high level of living standards. But there are also families who make sacrifices such as selling their car to be able to pay for their child's travel."
SUPER CAPTION: Nadezhda Kamneva, director International Education Centre
Former exchange students recall the culture shock they experienced when they arrived in the United States.
"I didn't expect to see the swimming pool. Also I didn't expect to see a lot of classrooms full of computers, too, because at our school we didn't have... we had only one classroom and those were not very good computers there."
SUPER CAPTION: Nikita Polyakov, former exchange student
Nikita is re-adjusting to life in Russia after a year in the United States, but for this year's students the adventure is just beginning.
It is the first time that many will be away from home.
Some speak little or no English.
"Of course, I'm scared a little. I'm flying to a foreign country of which I know nothing. My command of the language is rather poor, too. But I hope the family I'll stay with will be good and they will help me."
SUPER CAPTION: Valentina Bagdasarian, exchange student
As parents and relatives bid a tearful farewell, the students move towards the departure gate and the United States.
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