Last week, the Study Abroad crew went to Moscow and St. Petersburg. I had so much fun, and am still trying to process all of the experiences from the week! Moscow and St. Petersburg feel very different from one another. In my opinion, Moscow feels very eastern and has a lot of neat history & museums from the Cold War, whereas St. Petersburg is distinctly European and is centered around the fine art.
One of my favorite experiences in Russia was seeing Swan Lake in St. Petersburg. Generally ballet is not my cup of tea; however, there is something so mystifying and magical about seeing a Russian ballet. The first time it hit me that I was in Russia was when our group walked into the Red Square and saw St. Basil’s cathedral, which kind of looks like a red gingerbread house!
In St. Petersburg, we also went to The Hermitage Museum, the second biggest museum in the world. There were so many cool things in The Hermitage including art from the Italian Renaissance (they have quite a few of Rembrandt’s pieces), as well as historically important Russian works of art. According to a pamphlet that we received, if you were to spend one minute looking at each painting, you would be inside The Hermitage for over 9 years!
I cannot even begin to describe the amount of mind-boggling and opening experiences that I had on this trip. Touring the Kremlin was an awesome experience as well! According to our tour guide, the word “kremlin” means “little village”. In a former era, everybody lived inside of kremlins and was guaranteed milk and bread daily. The worst punishment a person could receive was to be kicked out of a kremlin and forced to fend for themselves.
The Study Abroad staff did a great job of making us feel comfortable in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. On our last day in St. Petersburg, I decided to go explore the city on my own. I went to Peter and Paul’s Fortress, the Marble Palace (an extension of the Russian Museum), and then went to journal in a cafe. It was a very liberating experience, and I’m so happy that I got the chance to do some independent exploration.
It would be a bit impractical to attempt to sum up every single experience that I have had in Russia; obviously, I have just included a few of the trip’s highlights. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to explore a different foreign country, especially one that is basically the antithesis of my own! I definitely feel like I am growing in my global competency as I learn to understand new cultures and interact with different types of people.