Journal Entry #1
It’s officially been two weeks since I began my Spring semester here at Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University! I’ve met a whole new group of 25 American students I will be working and studying with while abroad in Russia. I can already tell this is going to be a tough semester because of how busy and intense the classes I’m taking are. I’ll be studying Russian language 12 hours a week! This doesn’t include all the time I need to spend completing my homework assignments outside of class. I am also taking a history class all about the beginnings of Russia and a literature class on Russian writers and poets. I’m even taking a class about what it’s like for a local Russian to live in St. Petersburg nowadays! Well, guess what this all means? Lots of studying and lots of homework! These are all things I’m interested in, though. I am excited to delve into all these subjects!
I have already gone on a few excursions or field trips with this group of American students. One of the places we went to visit was Catherine Palace located in the town of Pushkin. Pushkin is only 25 kilometers or 15 ½ miles southeast of St. Petersburg. Not far at all! It’s where the tsar families would go for their summer vacationing. Can you imagine having a massive palace as a summer home? Incredible! I got to enjoy a tour of the interior of the palace. While I walked through the many different rooms, I couldn’t believe how ornate and richly decorated it was! I can’t imagine how much wealth and time it must’ve taken to complete such a palace. It felt like everything was made out of gold, glass or precious stones! I was almost relieved and happy to leave because it grew to be quite overwhelming in its richness. At least, for me.
Outside of school, I’ve had to work hard to make time to make new Russian friends. I finally have and the friends I’ve made have been very warm, friendly and generous people! Everyone seems to be so curious about me and where I’m from. I think Russians are just as curious about Americans as we are of them! In these past two weeks I’ve been invited out for coffee and tea a number of times. Going to a little cafe is a very popular thing to do here when meeting and getting to know people. There are cafes everywhere here! They’re more numerous here than McDonald’s is back in the States! I’ve been able to make a few conversation partners this way. They can learn or practice their English with me and I can learn and practice what Russian I know with them!
I think the best experience I’ve had so far was meeting a group of young Russian artists at one of these cafes. I am studying fine arts and painting back in the United States, so I’m really glad to have finally bumped into a few Russian artists! I have so many questions for them about what the art world is like in St. Petersburg! Unfortunately, I don’t think I know enough Russian to be able to hold a good conversation with them about this subject. Either way, after meeting them they invited me to their studio and I got to see where they worked and created their art pieces. I hope to continue speaking with them and visiting them at their studio so I can improve my Russian speaking skills. I also hope to gain some knowledge about what art is like here in Russia.
And so my adventure continues! If you have any questions or requests please don’t hesitate to contact me!