Abstract: I’ve now been living in the largest country in the world for about eight months! Russia covers the whole northern part of Asia. I have been living in the city of St. Petersburg which is located in the far Eastern part of Russia close to Europe. St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia for over 200 years! Come see what I’ve discovered during my time here so far!
Introduction: I can’t believe how many things have been happening over the past few weeks! I’ve been exploring and discovering so many new things about St. Petersburg. In the process, I’ve also been making lots of Russian friends. These wonderful people have been very kind and generous to me with their hospitality and time. Family and friends in Russia are very important. It is not very easy or common to make friends as quickly as I have here. Russians don’t let just anybody into their personal lives. They don’t allow just anybody to get close to them right away. I am truly blessed and grateful to have bumped into a few amazing people who have extended their hands in friendship to me! These are the wonderful people who have helped me learn a lot about this great city, about their history and culture in a way I would never have been able to. Thanks to them, I was able to experience a number of things that I can now share with you!
Local Time: 10:00pm
Time Zone: MSK which stands for Moscow Standard Time
Location (Latitude, Longitude): 59.843905, 30.244836 OR 59° 50′ 38.058″, 30° 14′ 41.4096″ (Deg-Min-Sec)
How far did I travel this week?
I did not leave the wonderful city of St. Petersburg this week. Of course, this is no problem because there are so many things to do here! I have been here several months and I am still discovering new things about St. Petersburg. If you lived here with me, I think you’d agree that you could never get bored!
How did I get around this week?
As usual, I took the Metro a lot this week to cover big distances and commutes. Lately the weather has gotten a lot nicer. This has made it a lot easier to walk around more. I love walking around the city! It’s great exercise. Sometimes, I end up walking several miles each day without even noticing it. I have also found that walking around the city is one of the best ways to get to know St. Petersburg’s people and its culture.
Oh, and guess what? A lot of Russians enjoy walking, too! They love taking a stroll down the main street called Nevsky Prospekt, which is in the center of the city. On Nevsky Prospekt they like looking at all the shops and usually stop inside a restaurant or a little cafe for a cup of coffee or tea. Russians also love their sweets! It’s not unusual for them to order a slice of cake or some sort of dessert with their coffee or tea. If they’re not walking in the center of the city, they’re usually walking around the many parks that exist all over the city!
What was the most interesting place I visited this week?
I think one of the most interesting places I visited this week was a laundromat. You wouldn’t believe how interesting and clever this laundromat is! Do you remember how I spoke about how difficult it is to find a laundromat here because most people own their own washing machines or wash their clothes by hand? Well, I’ve been washing my clothes in the bathroom tub where I live and it’s a lot of hard work! Although my Russian hostess, Ludmila, never tires of washing her clothes by hand I’ve come to understand I need a break! So I found a laundromat close to the center of the city.
The laundromat is called Stirka 40 Degrees. It takes about 35 minutes by Metro to get there from where I live. So what’s cool about this laundromat? Well, first of all it’s the least expensive one around. It costs about 250 roubles to wash and dry one load of laundry. This is almost $8 in American currency. I know it seems like a lot compared to the average $3-$5 we pay to wash and dry a load of our clothes in an American laundromat, but here it is a luxury to be able to do so!
What’s really nice about Stirka 40 Degrees is that you get a free pot of tea or a cup of coffee with each load of laundry you do! They even have a little snack bar near the entrance where you can buy pretzels or small sandwiches for very little money. There are also lots of board games available for you to play while waiting for your laundry to get done. On top of that, there is art and photography created by local artists hanging off the walls. They usually play music too and if not, there is a piano for customers to play their own tunes on. Needless to say, I fell in love with this laundromat and I will definitely be going back there again for my next amazing laundry experience!
Partly cloudy: 2
What is the air temperature right now? 50 degrees Fahrenheit
How was the weather this week?
It seems that spring has come at last! I was scared it would never come when we had two snow blizzards earlier this month. One happened on April Fool’s Day, too! Finally the snow has started to melt and the days have grown longer. Instead of the sun rising close to noon every day, like it did in the middle of winter, it’s been rising closer to 6am! Also, the sun hasn’t been setting until close to 9:30pm! These are long and sunny days. I am ever so grateful for the warmth that is finally creeping into cold Russia.
What animals did I see this week?
I haven’t seen too many animals around in St. Petersburg except for stray dogs and cats. Also, there are lots of pigeons and crows flying around. This is mainly because it’s a big city and there aren’t too many animals that can survive in this very harsh environment which doesn’t contain many natural elements. The animals that are living here are usually in hiding or come out at night to look for food. The few times I visited a local park, I noticed a few squirrels scurrying around. It seems that Russians, especially Russian children, have a soft spot for these furry creatures. I noticed a little boy and girl around five or six years old trying to feed and play with the squirrels in the park. They were pointing at the squirrels, throwing bread crumbs and seeds while laughing and giggling the entire time.
What was the best meal this week?
The best meal I had this week was Russian pie! It wasn’t made with fruits, berries or sugar though. It wasn’t even a round pie! These pies are made with different combinations of meats, vegetables and cheeses. They’re also baked in a square shape! I had a hard time picking which pie I wanted!
I was with my Russian friend, Sveta. We went to a little pie restaurant together and she helped me decide. I ended up trying a slice of salmon and potato pie! It was absolutely scrumptious! She chose a slice of mushroom and cheese pie. When she let me try a bite out of hers, I thought both were delicious! We happily ate our slices of pies with a traditional cup of tea. No dessert for me, please! I wanted to continue savoring every bite of my salmon pie!
What did I read this week?
I am taking a Russian literature class at the University here in St. Petersburg. In this class we have to read many books and poems. The book I am reading right now is called Doctor Zhivago by a man named Boris Pasternak. It’s a very long book. It has 563 pages! It’s a story about a doctor who is also a poet named Doctor Zhivago.
The book describes what Doctor Zhivago goes through during the Russian Revolution of 1905 and what happens to him and his family before World War II. This was a time of great unhappiness, confusion and fighting. Many Russians were very unhappy with their government and so they fought against it. They wanted to start a new and better form of government. There was much suffering during this time.
It’s not a very pretty story but don’t worry! There is always love and hope. I have not finished it yet but I’m enjoying reading it. I think the author did a wonderful job in helping me, the reader, understand what’s going on in every single character’s head. This has brought the book to life for me and I have had a hard time putting it down! I can’t wait to see how the whole story ends!
What games or sports did I play this week?
I didn’t get to play any sports myself but I did get to watch some live! Many Russians love sports just like many Americans do. Of course there are some favorites, right? While most Americans’ favorite sports include baseball or American football, the Russians love ice hockey and soccer. I got to go to a soccer game and watch the St. Petersburg soccer team, called Zenit, play live!
I found out that they don’t call this sport “soccer” here. They actually call it “football,” just like many other European countries do. Watching the Zenit football match was a lot of fun! The crowd was full of energy. There was a lot of screaming, yelling and chanting going on! Lots of Zenit fans were waving large blue and white scarves in the air above their heads, which are Zenit’s official colors. Other Zenit fans brought flags of all shapes and sizes and were waving them around to stir up more enthusiasm and excitement! I even saw and heard a few people who brought big drums and they would bang on their drums to the beat of the chants!
I really wish you could have all been there with me. I’ve never experienced such a crowded and lively group of people before in my life! They all banded together to encourage and cheer on their Russian soccer team! Since you couldn’t come along in person, I made sure to capture a little video footage for you. In this short video you can hear the Zenit fans chanting. They are chanting back and forth with each other from across the massive stadium! When you listen to the video, can you tell how the fans seem to be having a conversation with those on the other side? Can you hear how they echo each other and repeat each other?
After the Zenit football game, my American friends and I got interviewed by someone who works with the Zenit Football Club! They took a picture of us and even posted this very interview online on their official website! Can you find me in the picture?
URL address to Zenit interview: