- Travel Topics
Context: In the summer of ’09 after my sophomore year at college I studied abroad for 8 weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia. I frequently wrote updates home (once a week), and this is one of those updates. I am adding this here because this is our travel website and I want it to be a collection of our travels, however, it’s important to know that I wrote these years ago without the intention of them ever being part of a travel website. They are not representative of our future work, but maybe you will enjoy reading them and get a taste of what it can be like to study abroad. Hope you enjoy!
The other day as I was leaving the metro I was stopped by two police officers. It’s actually fairly common place that police stop people and demand to see their documents. Sort of like our illegal immigrant problem in America, there are a lot of people here illegally from the Caucuses, and there is a lot of hostility towards those people as they are blamed for much of the crime and such in Russia. On top of this, Russia has a history of war in that area. Anyways, the problem was solved quickly when I showed them my visa, but it isn’t really comforting to know that you resemble a person from the Caucuses, which I have been told a few times (I think it’s the tan and the nose).
The weekend was pretty interesting. Friday night was Pasha’s last day in St. Petersburg until Aug 1st (which is also a Friday and happens to be my last day). A few of us walked around the city with him. It wasn’t a late night because he had been up the past two days doing work and hadn’t really slept. Anyways, I got to talk to him about a lot of things in Russian, and I’ll see him on my last day as well. Hopefully after that we’ll keep in touch, but you know how these things go. He says he plans to study English a lot this year and hopes next summer to come to America. Time will tell I guess.
On Saturday and Sunday we went to Piskov, which is a really old city in Russia with a lot of history. The whole trip has its pluses and minuses. The biggest plus is getting out of St. Petersburg for a few days and seeing some place new. It isn’t that we really know St. Petersburg that well, but there are parts of it we know very well because they’re the main streets/places, and we always seem to end up there. You begin to feel like you know everything about the city, when really you’ve only seen a fraction of a percent of it, just over and over again. The down side is that Piskov is 5 hours away by bus plus having to wake up early on Saturday and Sunday. Nonetheless, we made the trip, and got a tour guide to show us around the city (churches, monasteries, fortresses, etc). The group also made an excursion to a bee keeper, which was fairly random but actually really interesting. The guy basically explained to us about bees, bee products, and any death of a human that is less than 280 years is an unnatural death. I also saw an American movie (Wanted) in Russian while I was there.
Finally, we got to stay in a hotel, though not before I killed about 20 mosquitoes. I guess I would have rather spent two more days in Moscow, but that’s the way these things go sometimes. The rest of the week will probably pass pretty much like normal. Class, an excursion or two, and I bought a few movies (Indian Jones and Adrenaline) to watch in Russian. It’s really a good way to practice some Russian in a casual setting, and it takes your mind off things. Anyways, this weekend we are going to Moscow which should be an entirely different experience, and I think everyone in the program is really looking forward to it, because although everyone still likes St. Petersburg, the novelty of it has been lost, and when that happens you begin to think about other things like home or what you need to do before you leave and that can bring you down a bit.
Want to read more about Dave’s Study Abroad Program in St. Petersburg, Russia?
Letter 1: St. Petersburg, Russia – Arriving in Foreign Territory
Letter 2: St. Petersburg, Russia – Starting Class
Letter 3: St. Petersburg, Russia – The White Nights
Letter 4: St. Petersburg, Russia – Some Things Lost Some Things Gained
Letter 5: St. Petersburg, Russia – New Friendships
Letter 6: St. Petersburg, Russia – Beach For July 4th
Letter 7: St. Petersburg Study, Russia – phhh Piskov
Letter 8: St. Petersburg, Russia – End Of Days