Rubles and Ramblings

Rubles and Ramblings

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My First Few Days

With my first week of living in St. Petersburg complete, I figured it is time to update everyone on my experience so far!  I finally have some free time to reflect on all that’s happened, so brace yourself for some new posts! 

Arriving in Russia was overwhelming and extremely intimidating.  Luckily I had my study abroad group with me, and we all stuck together through passport control and baggage claim.  Once getting out of the airport, the excitement of finally being in St. Petersburg overpowered the feeling of exhaustion from jet lag and flying.  My study abroad group was herded onto a bus, and then we were off to our new dorm.

I live in a huge building for international students enrolled at St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University called ИМОП (E-mop).  Upon arrival, I was faced with my first "Russian Quirk", as I've started to call them.  My suite is on the third floor, but for some reason the elevator doesn't stop on the third floor.  Theres a button for it, but no place for it to go.  All the other floors have elevators except ours.  How does that even happen??  Basically, I had to go up to the 4th floor and carry my 50+ pound suitcase and carry ons down the flight of stairs.  Not looking forward to the next time I'll have to do that...Other than that odd first impression of my new home, I love the suite that I'm in!  I live with 3 other girls and we share a bathroom and kitchenette complete with a fridge and a hot plate.  Its a pretty unimpressive set-up but it is all I need for my 4 month stay.
My roommate Katie in our dorm room!
The next day was the St. Petersburg city tour.  We saw some of the main sites of the city such as Peter and Paul Fortress, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and beautiful city views on the banks of the frozen Neva River.  One of the most exciting things that day was witnessing the cannons go off at 12pm at Peter and Paul Fortress.  This happens everyday to signal the time and has been going on since the Fortress was occupied.  Here's a short video of the cannons firing!

Next sight that I really enjoyed visiting was the church that stands on the place Alexander II was assassinated.   This is the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.  The story goes that the Emperor was traveling with his men when someone threw a bomb under his carriage.  Its a morbid and gory story, but basically Alexander II bled to death after his legs and stomach were badly mutilated.  Dedicated to his memory, this beautiful church was constructed on the spot where he was assassinated. 

   I also really enjoyed the look-out point of the Neva River.  From here, the Hermitage, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and the architecturally stunning buildings of the city can be seen lining the banks of the river.  St. Petersburg is referred to as the "Venice of the North" with the amount of bridges and canals that wind through the city.  It's a breathtaking view.  The fact that the river is frozen with people ice-fishing and taking a stroll on the banks is another reminder that I can only be in Russia.
View of the Hermitage & St. Isaac's Cathedral's dome
So far, I am really loving this city and am so happy I chose to come here.  Each day there's something new I learn, whether it be another Russian Quirk I discover or simply sitting in my classes learning about this country.  I can't wait for everything else that is to come!  I promise I'll get better at posting regularly, so keep a look-out for some new posts soon!  Also, go read my suitemate Sarah's blog for more updates on our trip!
До свидания! *Dah-sveh-dah-nee-yah* (goodbye!) 

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