My Time in Russia (Grigoriy in Russia)

I got into LED airport in St Petersburg yesterday at 4 pm and was welcomed by a large group of volunteers from my particular study abroad program. The immersion happens so fast which gave me a good type of shock, not uncomfortable but more like, “I cannot believe I am actually here. You start reading and being totally immersed the second your off the plane, at least that was my experience. Then we were off to the Crowne Plaza, a beautiful luxury hotel but most notably it was the buffet that gave me that, “now that’s what I”m talking about”. Some of the dishes for our first dinner were an eclecticism of salads; cabbage, crab. Then there was a vegetable rice pilaf, pork dishes,vegetables, specifically zucchini covered in a cheese type sauce. RUSSIANs are very fond of tomato juice so be prepared to see that often. We took a trip to the local store just 7 minutes walking time from the hotel where i bought a classic beverage called KVAS, almost like a non- alcoholic beer but some describe it with a soury soy sauce type flavor; an acquired taste. My roomate and I talked about picking courses and then went to bed. Breakfast would be at 7am the following morning, and unlike many American Hotels, here breakfast is served until 11, laid with the finest staple dishes of Russia. Oatmeal, cheeses, meets, yogurts, a high end ready to serve coffee maker. Potatoes with ikrop (a garnish).

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Today my classmates and I will be going on a tour of the United States Consulate located in St. Petersburg right near the Chernishevsky metro station.  The consulate takes care of adminstrial work, and plays the biggest role in keeping students such as us safe and informed.  If for some reason a passport is lost, or some unexpected even occurs, we are given the phone number in our emergency card to contact them as needed.  Fortunatly such instances have rarely occured but it is nice to know they are always there to help.  I think one of the biggest concerns of students is their safety here in Russia. After about a month into my experience I have not had one negative experience with people, authority figures, or anyone else for that matter.  In fact I have found Russians to be very welcoming to  not only Americans but other international visitors.  Just like any other country, there are times when homeless people or veterans will ask for money and it is a personal decision whether you would like to help them or not.  I have found walking away the best maneuver when beggers ask for money even if it is just moving 2 feet away.  Getting acclimated to the language is probably the toughest part but after a couple of weeks your comprehension will start building at an almost exponential rate, dependent of course of your previous knowledge; the less you know, the steeper the learning curve.  The cafes here are beautiful and the roads illuminate history in every step.  Take a look outside as I write this blog.  I feel like my journey is just starting to take off so stay tuned as I can now comfortably show whats St. Petersburg Russia is really like.

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Theres nothing better than seeing the sun shine, especially in Russia.  It’s starting to feel like spring as today was the warmest day I have experienced here thus far (48 degrees F).     My day started with a Russian lesson from a local student at the Starbucks on a street named Kazanskaya.  Receiving Russian language lessons in addition to studying in school is something I would recommend to any student trying to improve their fluency.  Not only is it much more economical (400-800 rubles/hour) than in the States, but you can rest assured that the person knows Russian very well.

Many historical landmarks are walking distance from one metro stop including the Hermitage.  Nevsky spans for a long distance, so there are other stops which will lead you to this street, each one with its own unique characterstics.  It is one of the bussiest if not the bussiest streets in the whole city and there is never a shortage of things to do and see.  Enjoy the view!

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Already a new week, a little bit colder than last but nonetheless, the weather never interferes with peoples day to day routines.  Be it snow or shine, Russians continue on with their days as planned.  Today our class went to a dance studio to learn to waltz.  Afterwards i decided to stop by at my favorite restuarant called Teremok.  It is a fast food version of some of the classic Russian dishes, including their famous blini’s aka crepes, which are always prepared fresh in front of your eyes.  You can chose many toppings included but not limited to tvorog (kind of like white cheese), fruits, potatoea, sour cream etc.  They also have some classic salads such as Olivee, or Vinagret.  Soups ofcourse-borsch, the most famous.  For about 270 rubles I got myself a blin with potatoe filling, a little blin called a blinchik with strawberry filling, and KVAS.  Heres a few pictures.  If you go to Russia you have to pay it a visit! I Absolutely love this place.

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