Kid’s Field Note

What’s it like to be a Kid in St. Petersburg

This week, I got a chance to talk to two young Russian people. They are close to your age! They are sister and brother. Their names are Sasha and Ivan. Sasha is 14 years old and Ivan is 12 years old. They were really shy but wanted to share a little bit of their story with you!


I met Sasha and Ivan through a professor at my University. Sasha and Ivan needed an English tutor. Their father wanted to hire a tutor who is a native English speaker. Your native language is the one you learn from birth. What is your native language?

I’m a native English speaker, so they looked to me for help! The professor heard me speaking English during my lunch break in the University’s cafeteria and asked me if I would be interested in this job. Of course, I said I was! So after finishing our first English lessons this week, I asked them if it was alright if I interviewed them. They agreed and were able to show off their English skills while I conducted the interview!

Sasha and Evan being goofy during our interview

Sasha and Ivan told me that their home is pretty small. This is typical for most Russian families living in St. Petersburg. They live on the ninth floor of a large apartment building in the northern part of the city. They have a small kitchen, a small bathroom and three bedrooms. There is one room for each of them to sleep in and one room for their parents.

When does school start? How do you get there?

“We usually get up around 7:30am every morning and school starts at 9am,” said Sasha.

“We also walk to school together because it is very close to our home,” added Ivan.

They said that during each school day they take six different 45 minute long classes. They also get to enjoy two 20 minute long breaks, which includes their lunch break. School ends around 2:30pm every day.

What subjects are you studying at school? What are your favorites?

At school, Sasha and Ivan are studying many subjects. I was surprised to hear how many! Would you like to hear a summary of these classes? Some of the subjects they are studying in school include algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, history of St. Petersburg and Russia, geography and even economics! Even though they are studying many different subjects, Sasha and Ivan told me they have favorites.

“Math and biology are my two favorite subjects,” said Ivan. “My favorite subject is the history of Russia,” replied Sasha. “I think it is very interesting to know about the country and the people.”

Enjoying their technology

“And about our past times,” added Ivan.

What job would you like to have when you get older?

Although Ivan is not sure about what he wants to be when he grows up, Sasha told me she already knows. She wants to be a lawyer! This is one of the biggest reasons she likes learning about the history of Russia so much. She believes it’s very important to know about your country’s history in order to understand its laws.

What do you do outside of school? Do you have any hobbies?

They look like true siblings

Once they return home from school they always eat a snack before getting started on their homework. They try and get this done as soon as possible because both of them have sport training around 5pm every day. Guess what sport Sasha and Ivan train for? Boxing!

“I was seven years old when we starting boxing classes and Sasha was nine years old,” said Ivan.

Their father used to box when he was a kid and that’s what got Ivan interested in trying this sport.

“I went to dancing classes,” said Sasha. “It was boring for me. So, I asked my father if I could take boxing classes with Ivan. He said if I wanted to I could!”

Now, they have both been training for about five years. Sasha is already recognized as the Boxing Champion of Russia and Ivan is very proud of his big sister. Would you like to see what it is like for Sasha to compete in boxing? Ivan took a video of one of the last boxing matches Sasha had and put it on YouTube. If you are able to watch this video online, Sasha is the competitor wearing the red uniform in the boxing ring!

YouTube URL:

When Sasha and Ivan don’t have school or intense sport training, they love to spend time with their family and friends. When they do have a little free time on their hands, they both admitted that they love to go snowboarding!

“Sometimes we go out with our friends to the cinema or for a walk,” said Sasha. “We like watching movies together!”

“I also like playing with radio control,” said Ivan. “I might control a little car or helicopter model with a special remote,” he later explained to me.

I wanted to keep asking them more questions about their lives here in St. Petersburg but I ran out of time. The lesson was over and their mother had come to pick them up to go to boxing training. I was sad to see them go but very excited and grateful that they were willing to share part of their personal lives with me.

What do you think about Sasha and Ivan? I think they’re quite interesting young people! They’re probably not so different from many young people living in the United States. They each have families, go to school, play sports and hang out with friends. Sometimes it feels like we’re not that different from other people who are living halfway across the world!

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