I’m sorry it has been so long since my last post! I have been her for almost three weeks and despite some initial setbacks getting a stable internet connection I have finally figured everything out and I will be posting much more regularly from here on out!
I flew out of Boston on the 25th of January and after two short layovers in Frankfurt and Munich, (where I met up with fellow UVM’er Kevin Lovely- another Russian major) I arrived in St.Petersburg at about 5 pm on the 26th. Upon arrival, we were greeted by several CIEE staff members in the airports lobby. They escorted us out to coach busses which brought us to the beautiful Park Inn Pulkovskaya Hotel where we spent the next two days attending orientation sessions. CIEE did an amazing job with orientation, the sessions were extremely helpful and our program directors presented the information in an extremely clear and organized manner. I felt much more relaxed and ready for my semester abroad after hearing what they had to say. By the end I literally had no questions left, they covered everything!!
After orientation we took a tour around the city by bus. Russia is known for its overcast weather, there are supposedly only something like sixty sunny days on average each year but on the day of our tour it was extremely sunny and beautiful! Our tour guide was amazing, her knowledge of the city was incredible. We were even able to get out of the bus at a few different places so we could take pictures and explore the surrounding areas. My favorite stop by far was St.Issacs Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox sobor (or cathedral) in the city. It is breathtakingly beautiful, as you can see from the photo below.
The following evening we were brought to our host families! I live on Vasilievsky Island, about a ten minute walk from the metro station. My host mom Irina Alexandrovna is great! It is just her and I living in the apartment, as her son and granddaughter live in Ukraine. The apartment itself is beautiful, it actually has two floors which is extremely rare here in St.Petersburg. My room is really spacious and it even has an enormous window which overlooks the gulf of Finland! Irina is an excellent host mom, she makes me amazing Russian meals and loves to help me practice my Russian. She even has me show her my homework every night so she can check that I understand everything and am doing it correctly. She is an extremely intelligent woman, she loves to read and there are books all over the apartment. I feel really fortunate to have such a great host mom! On top of all that, the majority of my friends live within 15 minutes from me on Vasilievsky so I always have people to meet up with and explore!
The classes are great, I got placed into the intermediate level which I was really happy about. There are ten other students in my class, so the learning environment is very relaxed and one on one. I’m taking five classes in total, Grammar, Phonetics, Conversation, Russian Literature and Russian American Relations. Classes in Russia are much longer than in the states, each class is an hour and a half long! They are all really interesting though so the time goes by quickly.
Even though I have only been here for such a short period of time, I feel like I belong here in St.Petersburg. The city is far more beautiful and interesting than I had ever imagined and I am loving it here so far! Be sure to check back at the end of the week for my post about our weekend trip to Novgorod and a little bit more about my everyday life here! Пока!