My inspiring experience in St. Petersburg
24 July, 2015
My inspiring experience in St. Petersburg
After an inspiring experience I had in St. Petersburg, it’s hard to believe how fast eight weeks can fly by. But, here I am, writing my goodbye post! My time here in St. Petersburg has been more gratifying, exciting and intense than I could have imagined.
When I was planning my stay here over the winter and spring, I was incredibly excited to experience life in Russia for the first time, but so nervous as well! I just didn’t know what to expect. As most students have experienced in their home country, most of the news about Russia these days focuses on the challenging political situation, and I wondered how I would be received as a visitor from the U.S. So when I arrived here, I was quite surprised by how welcoming and positive people were, and how interested they were in learning more about my background and culture. Here, as in every other country I’ve visited, I found that people were genuinely friendly and extremely receptive when I showed an interest in the local culture and language.
So, without further ado, here are a few last thoughts from me now that my time here is coming to an end!
Arrive a few days earlier
First of all, if I had been able to, I definitely would have followed the advice of past students and interns and arrived a few days before classes start to get to know the city. This is important because once you get started with classes and start to meet more and more people, you’ll see that your time just seems to disappear! It can be tough to fit in all the things you wanted to do during your studies, so if you have the opportunity, definitely try to come a few days or a week in advance to see some of the main sights and get familiar with the layout of the city.
Make a sight seeing To-Do list
That said, I do think it’s good not to get too carried away checking things off your St. Petersburg (or Moscow or Riga) “to-do” list. Even having been here for eight weeks, there are still a few main sights I didn’t get to — I have yet to see the amazing view of St. Petersburg from the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral! However, I’m so glad that I took the time to get to know other students and locals, and sometimes it is fun to spend a Sunday afternoon at yoga class or the banya rather than running around sightseeing. Besides, I always like to leave something undiscovered so I have extra motivation to come back!
I was especially lucky here to live in one of the Liden & Denz shared flats. Although the option of living with a host family is definitely the one which allows you to most improve your Russian skills, I really enjoyed meeting other students from different countries in the flat. If that’s important to you, definitely consider this option when you are choosing housing! It’s always interesting to meet people who share your interest in learning a language. In fact, one of the aspects I most enjoyed about studying at Liden & Denz in general was meeting people who work and study in a variety of fields and learning why Russian is important to them. This gave me extra motivation to continue with my studies, as it solidified my belief that Russian is one of the most important languages in the world and one which is valued in a variety of industries.
Labor of Love
Of course, as you all know by now, learning Russian is a labor of love with an emphasis on the “labor”. Studying here is extremely intense, but if you put in the work every day, you really will see great progress. Before coming here, I mostly learned Russian on my own, so managing even the most basic conversations was incredibly challenging when I arrived! Eight weeks later, I’m so happy that speaking has started to come more naturally and doesn’t throw me into a state of panic. Having classes entirely in Russian was incredibly helpful towards accomplishing that goal. I have a long way to go, but I’m grateful to have learned in such an intensive environment and to have gained useful techniques and recommendations to continue my studies in the future.
Thank you to all of the wonderful teachers, classmates, colleagues and new friends who have made this summer so incredible! It was inspiring to meet so many passionate, dedicated colleagues and students throughout my time in Russia, and I already can’t wait to come back to this beautiful city.
Amy, currently learning Russian at Liden & Denz