Well I’ve been in Russia for an entire week, and what a week it has been! I originally did not think that I would be blogging this often, but there’s so much to talk about. Where to start…
I guess I’ll start with my classes. Now that I have a more solid class schedule, I’m taking: Russian Language, Contemporary Russian Society, Russian Literature, and The History of Russia from Kiev to the Rus. My language teacher Inga (not Ingra, pazhalusta Inga) has been making sure we don’t get too overwhelmed. Not surprisingly Russian is a difficult language to learn. There are 33 letters in the alphabet, and you write in one form of cursive, read in print form (as well as your own cursive), and then there is speaking of course. Don’t get me wrong, Inga is giving us a lot of work considering that the majority of us in our class are complete novices, but she’s not making it difficult to learn. M/W/F we have language class from 10:00-13:30 (they use military time in Russia). T/Th are electives days, with six hours split between whichever electives we chose. I can honestly say I am excited about all of my classes; true self-motivated learning here since UPS doesn’t offer any Russian language classes.
Now to exploring Sanct Peterborg (that’s how the local’s pronounce it).I have been out exploring the city everyday since we arrived. We’ve gotten lost every single day, but that’s fine with me. We’ve gotten off on the wrong stop on the metro & taken wrong turns in the Nevsky Prospekt, but we’re better for it. I’d say we’ve probably walked a good 15 miles every day getting to know the city. It can be a bit overwhelming living and studying in a completely new country where you don’t know the language.
The group of American students I’m studying abroad with, as I mentioned in my last post, are all a bunch of really smart and interesting people. We all meld really well and have the same mindset; we care about school and obviously didn’t choose to study abroad in Russia to go on a vacation.
The food portions are about half the size of American servings, so whenever I go to order something I always end with “Bolshoi” (indicating a large size of that item). They never indulge my request, except for the Blini place down the street where I got a ton of strawberry jam and a bigger sized coffee the other morning (I think the ladies appreciated I was trying to order in Russian). Russians tend to drink tea instead of coffee, so finding a nice large cup of medium roast black coffee to start my day has been a big struggle.
As a part of studying abroad the American students and myself go on excursions and see different major landmarks throughout the city. We went to the Hermitage, which was crazy aesthetic. Just to give you an idea, apparently you would have to spend nine years to see every single piece of art in the museum. Through this program I have the opportunity to volunteer there, which I’m hoping will work out. We’ve been to Peter and Paul Fortress, where we saw the Russian soldiers march, and they let off a blank mortar round as usual at 12:00. We’ve also been to the summer palace of Peter the Great, where we got to see all of the amazing gardens, fountains, and gold coated cupolas. We didn’t get to go inside the main palace, but instead went through the Dacha, where the Russian royalty used to go to Banya. Banya is a great Russian tradition where you sit in a sauna, and cleanse your body of all it’s toxins.
I know I put a couple of common touristy photos in here, but come on this is incredible. Getting adjusted to life here in Russia has been a bit of a learning curve, but overall I think my faculty advisor was dead right, “a life changing, once in a lifetime opportunity.”
That’s all for now, more soon to come.