Week 3 Summary: Lots of Randomness and Petergof

Hi everyone!

This is going to be a very, very long post, so if you’re reading this and don’t have a lot of time, I would suggest holding off until you do (if you’re interested of course).

I just want to write about some things that went on last week. It may all be a bit random, but I’ll do my best to put it all together.

So the first thing that really went on last weekend was a trip to the bowling alley with some Russian & American students. It was really neat. We had this conversation partner thing the week before, where we went to a bar and just talked to a bunch of different Russian students, and this one Russian boy obviously was being very thoughtful when he invited his Russian friends and some of us Americans to go bowling. There were definitely some language barriers, but it was fun nonetheless, and all the students ended up being really neat. Afterwards we headed over to a bar and attempted to converse some more. Overall I think it was really nice of these Russian students to think of a way to try to include us in their group without being told to do so.

The next thing I want to briefly mention is that Vika and I are receiving international affairs credit for one of our classes here in Russia! I know I mentioned this before, but I’m really happy about it, and super excited to be knocking it out of the way!

Something else that I’ve really been noticing more and more every time we go out is that I really need to learn food. In the most serious tone I can acquire over the Internet: it is necessary that this happen soon. Vika and I went to eat at a restaurant this past week, and the most horrifying moment came when we realized we had absolutely no idea what any of the food on the menu was except for a couple of words. What I ordered, I’m still not sure. Something with mushrooms in it, which was similar to a soup, but definitely wasn’t a soup, and had some kind of meat and cheese? What Vika ordered, we’re guessing was some sort of chicken? It was kind of funny at the time because when the waitress brought out the food, we had no idea what to expect. Seriously though. If you study a language, don’t underestimate the food. It’s important too!

Since I’m already on the topic of food, I thought I’d just describe the café life as well. There is this place called Кофе Хауз (literally: Coffee House) pretty much everywhere, and Vicky and I are becoming professionals at going here. For example, what can I share with you of interest? The chocolate cake and chocolate fondue mix are definitely amazing if you love chocolate, but almost any sort of hot chocolate in this country is so thick that you have to use a spoon to eat it, therefore making hot chocolate not a drink, but actually just melted chocolate in a mug. Yummy. However, if you’re expecting to get actual hydration out of this, don’t expect that to happen with a cup full of melted chocolate. The chocolate suffle is a personal favorite. As well as a “Dabl Kapuchino Ais” aka Double ice cappuccino. The actual food at this café is not the best, but when all else fails, Coffee House is there. Plus it has free Wi-Fi. Oh yea.

My next brief point: letters & postcards. I love them. I really do. I love to write, as I imagine everyone reading this would notice, however mail in this country is not the best. I would just like to say in this post, that I am in the process of writing many people postcards, and I’m so sorry for taking so long with that. I have very little knowledge of how the postal service works over here, but I did receive a letter from my mom the other day, which took me about 30 minutes to get because you apparently need your passport in order to receive mail. I will get this done. I’m writing them slowly and one at a time, but I will send postcards, and if you’d like to be one of those lucky people, just let me know.

I am really trying to cram everything in here, so I do apologize if my writing doesn’t flow together very well. I know it’s a pain to read a lot of words for this generation of people, so I’m trying to cut it down.

Ok, so the metro. Something I feel the need to vent about in a short paragraph. I’m used to the metro. I’ve taken it in DC, and also New York for a little bit. It’s basically the same in Piter as far as how the lines run and how the system works. However, I cannot stand this metro AT ALL. The most stressful part of my day is taking the metro. I absolutely cannot deal with it. I love the metro stations, don’t get me wrong. It’s not as though things are dirty; the metro is honestly more like a museum. It’s beautiful. So what stress comes from this? 1: the amount of people. So, so, so many people take the metro. And the thing that makes it more noticeable (to me) than in DC is the fact that everyone seems to be running for the same direction and there are just masses of people at all times I go. Whenever I am going on the very, very long escalator ride down, all I see is an ocean of people at the bottom pushing to get on the ride going up. If you would like to get to the bottom faster, by all means, take the risk of running down the escalator for 5 minutes, but don’t be surprised if someone who is actually capable of flying down in about 3 seconds yells at you to get out of the way because you’re too slow. Also, have the realization in your head that if you do decide to run down the stairs, and you trip, you’ll fall a long way down and it won’t be pleasant.

Another interesting thing about this system is that the idea of “stand on the right, walk on the left” applies only when going down. When coming up, you have to just stand and wait on the escalator since no one apparently wants to run up the stairs. Stand and wait. For more than 5 minutes I think it takes. Especially if there are a lot of people.

On another note, there is one part of this “metro life” that I wouldn’t mind seeing/knowing more about, and that is when it’s closed. The metro here closes relatively early (12 something am). Why? What goes on during this time period? Maybe 12am doesn’t seem that early to some people, but for some of us, it definitely is. From what one professor has told us, I’ve gathered that the reason for the metro closing so early at night is because it’s actually used for something else: to carry military supplies/other confidential supplies to the outskirts of the city to factories or something like this. Supposedly, when you look at the normal metro map for St. Petersburg, you can only see a part of the metro that is centered around the actual city, but in reality the metro extends much farther out. Every night, when it’s closed to the public, there are authorities who take it to get to those outskirts. I have no proof of this except my professor, so I’m not quite sure how much of that is true, but I do think it’s fascinating and wouldn’t mind seeing this process (although I doubt that will happen).

That wasn’t exactly a short paragraph on the metro, but I thought it could be somewhat interesting…maybe?

Anywho, the last two small points I’ll just sum up:

  1. One of my professors at Smolny looks a lot like my old coach for skating, and it makes me a little sad every time I go to class. However! There is hope that I’ll see this coach in Moscow, so I’m optimistic.
  2. My host mom gave me tongue for lunch one day. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I couldn’t even believe what I was looking at, and I thought you’d all like to have that image in your head as well. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t try it. I’m not that brave.

Lastly, and I apologize again for such a long post, but the most important part of the week came during the weekend. We had another excursion this weekend! To Петергоф(Petergof). It was amazing! I really, really enjoyed going there. It’s only about an hour away from the city, and it is so worth it.

I’ve been debating as to whether or not I should post certain information on this place to people, because if anyone does decide to visit, it would be better if they are surprised. (haha) But, in any case, I will let you all know the fun secrets of this place.

If you want to go somewhere to laugh in Russia, in my opinion, this is the right place. Apparently Peter the 1st was a bit of a jokster, and designed his fountains accordingly. I’ll give some examples here:

Is this table normal? What do you think? My answer: not exactly. Try to reach in for that fruit, and you’ll enjoy getting soaked by water that shoots up from the edges of the table.

The Passage. Is this entrance normal? Again: not really. Try to walk under here and be prepared to get drenched by water that falls out of the crack in between the doors.

Not on these rocks. Don’t want to get wet? Don’t stand here.

Rain, rain go away. Yes, it is possible to sit under this place and have it rain around you all the time.

Do you like flowers? So did Peter’s wife. So much in fact that she would trick her friends into walking past the bench, where water would shoot out and soak them all.

And that was my experience at Petergof. Awesome place. I love it, and of course it’s a palace. If you have a chance….go here while the fountains are open!

The last thing (I promise) I want to write about is that I had the chance to meet up with an awesome LC alum this weekend and talk about his experience in Russia and with his life after college. Unfortunately the museum we were planning on seeing was already closed, but it was a nice chance to walk around and here another person’s adventures in Russia!

2 responses to “Week 3 Summary: Lots of Randomness and Petergof

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