13 February, 2015
I can’t believe that it is already time for me to say goodbye! My time in St.Petersburg has been wonderful, and I am sad to have to leave. It was only 6 weeks ago that I arrived, and time flew by very quickly!
When I first arrived here I was so nervous and had so many questions. What will Russian people and culture be like? Will I like it here? How do I use the metro or a Russian ATM? How do I check into a hostel? How do I ask for directions? There were so many questions troubling me, that all seem so simple now. Although my language is still at a beginner’s level, I can say that I have improved immensely, and taking classes at Liden & Denz as well as practicing with locals has made me significantly more confident in my Russian language abilities.
My trip started a few days before I began my classes and work as an editorial assistant, and I am so happy that I made that decision. It was very helpful to take some time to get over jet lag and slowly get to know the city, and I would highly recommend that other travelers do the same. I began my trip by wandering around the city a lot, getting to know the Petrograd area where I was living, and people watching. Coming from the United States made me very naive to what Russia would be like, as there are many stereotypes and ideas that I knew would be untrue, yet still gave me a false idea about what to expect.
Luckily, I discovered that people are people, no matter where you are. Stereotypes are fueled by politics that have nearly nothing to do with the people that you will meet while traveling, and these prejudices have nothing good come from them. While living anywhere you will meet people who are friendly and helpful, and you will meet people that want nothing to do with you. It’s important to learn to look past this, and not make negative generalizations. While Russia and Russian culture is very different from United States culture, there are many similarities as well. Both cultures have their good and bad sides, and I think that it is important to remember this. It can be easy to be ethnocentric, but you won’t get as much out of your experience if you do. And if you open up your mind to new experiences, ideas, and cultures it will allow you to go home with a new set of eyes. You can learn to appreciate your own culture in a new way, and help to break down those negative stereotypes.
I will value my time in Russia for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to come back. The experiences that I had and the friends that I made were priceless, and I couldn’t have wished for more. I will continue to study Russian language, politics, and history, and hope to come back again soon. Until then, пока пока!
I just thought that I would throw out a few suggestions of unique places to visit if you get the chance. These quirky bars, restaurants, and museums were some great places that didn’t make it into other posts. I hope you enjoy!
- Фарш и бочка (Farsh i Bochka)- A great bar that has a HUGE selection of beers on tap. They have both domestic and foreign beers available, and some interesting choices. I would recommend the Red Machine IPA from Moscow- yum! They also serve sausages and fries if you’re feeling hungry. Location: Belinskogo, 11
- Zhelyabova 25 Pyshechnaya- This Soviet donut shop is named after the old street name, and has been around for over 50 years. They serve delicious donuts made from the original recipe for only 13 rubles. Coffee for 25 rubles, served with milk and sugar. Location: Bolshaya Konyushennaya, 25
- Республика кошек (Cat’s Republic)- A “museum”, gift shop, and cafe, this place has everything cat related. The museum is basically just an area where you can to walk through and play with or pet some happy, friendly cats. The staff is nice, all menu items have cat puns in the names (it’s not кофе с молоком its кофе с молоКОТ), and the gift shop has everything a cat lover could ever want. Location: Yakubovicha, 10
- Barakobamabar- As an American I had to go here just to see what it would be like! It’s really more of a club that was hard to find in the far back of a courtyard. All of the staff wear shirts with Obama’s signature printed on the back, and they make a delicious gin and tonic (with a grapefruit slice, mmmm). Location: Konyushennaya ploshchad’, 2
- Bgl Market Cafe- This cafe is a off the beaten track and is a perfect place to grab lunch on a rainy Sunday. They serve bagel sandwiches, made on fresh baked bagels, and a wide selection of ingredients. With a warm welcoming interior, great coffee, board games, and wifi it’s worth a visit. Location: nab reki Fontanki 96
- Cтирка 40 (Strika 40)- A cosy bar that is located in a laundromat. It has a “hipster” kind of feel to it, and is worth checking out. Drink a beer while washing your clothes? Count me in. Location: Kazanskaya, 26
- Vinastudia- This is a great place to go if you feel like throwing on a pair of heels and a little black dress. Vinastudia is a classy little wine bar that offers a good selection at decent prices, with a beautiful interior and in a nice location. Location: Rubinshteyna 38
This blog was brought to you by Allison, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz